F1 – Miami GP – Race
Hello, MiniFans! After the shake up of the usual order in yesterday’s qualifying, we need to add the rain that fell overnight on the track, leaving it green and with virtually no grip. With Alonso’s promise to fight for first place, the defence Pérez will need to put up and both Verstappen and Leclerc needing a comeback to even smell the podium, it’s time to go racing!
As was promised, Alonso tried to attack Pérez at the start, but the Red Bull’s superiority was clear. Meanwhile, Verstappen had dropped a place, due to starting with hards in a sea of mediums, but his comeback kicked off almost immediately, taking the position back. A small battle between Magnussen and Leclerc made it quite easy for him to get past both of them on the straight. Leclerc got stuck behind Magnussen and Verstappen waved goodbye, continuing his quest to reach the podium.
Things weren’t going too well for the Mercedes, with Hamilton not quite finding himself in the car and Russell trying to agree on a strategy call with his race engineer. As soon as the pit window opened, the majority of midfielders with mediums boxed to get rid of them and grab a fresh set of hards to try and make it to the end. The first of the podium contenders to pit was Sainz, in an attempt at an undercut on Alonso. Aston Martin didn’t pit the Spaniard immediately, hoping traffic would slow Sainz down. However, this wasn’t the case and seeing he had already lost the position, Alonso wasn’t called to pits in hopes that a fresher tyre later on would suffice to recover the third step of the podium.
To continue with the tradition of 5-second penalties for Sainz, he got awarded one for speeding in the pitlane, as he didn’t manage to slow down enough when entering it. Once this was announced, Aston Martin entered attack mode and gave Alonso his new tyres, which aided him in his clean overtake on Sainz a few laps later. The race had mostly settled but had also promised a battle to the death for the win in the last laps.
On the other hand, Leclerc was still stuck behind Magnussen, this time fully out of the points and not quite managing to close the gap enough to be able to open his DRS, all while complaining about his car’s behaviour over the radio. This went on for a good handful of laps, until the stops from the ones who had started on hards plunged them into the points and Leclerc finally managed to make an overtake stick.
With less than fifteen laps to go, Verstappen was the only one who had not done his compulsory tyre change, almost having opened a gap big enough to Pérez not to have to fight for the win at the end, but the Mexican driver hadn’t thrown in the towel yet, lowering the fastest lap time before Stroll, who had been one of the last to pit, stole it away from them. Barely a lap after that, Verstappen was called into the pits for his set of mediums.
The roar from the crowd was clearly heard all around the circuit when Verstappen left the pitlane barely a second away from his teammate. His softer and fresher tyres were evident as he reduced the gap until he was right against Pérez’s rear diffuser and barely two laps later, the reigning world champion was leading the race. Russell had also gotten past Sainz, but the quest for third place ended there, due to Alonso being too fast for the Mercedes driver.
The order at the front was decided with around ten laps to go, save for a disaster, but the fight was still on a few positions behind them, with Leclerc having managed to climb up to sixth, right behind his teammate, but Hamilton wasn’t going to let him have it, overtaking the Monegasque making use of his softer compound. The last few laps were a cruise to the end, as no one was close enough to even attempt an overtake, and Verstappen signed on a new victory to add to his resumé.
Saturday’s qualifying had left some hope for an entertaining race, with Verstappen and Leclerc needing a comeback, while the Spanish speakers of the world hoped for a repeat of the grid positions. Verstappen did what was expected of him and more, easily reaching the podium places in a handful of laps and slow cooking his winning chance, finishing his dish close to the end of the race. The Red Bull 1-2 was the expected ending to the weekend, even if not following the path that had been drawn on their strategy papers, and Alonso completed yet another podium in a year that has allowed him to prove that age, at least for him, is simply a number.