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Formula 1 Miami GP

F1 Miami GP: Verstappen victorious, Hamilton penalised in busy sprint race

Max Verstappen beat Charles Leclerc in the sprint race for Formula 1’s 2024 Miami Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton’s various battles on his way to eighth provided the most entertainment.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24, Daniel Ricciardo, RB F1 Team VCARB 01

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Hamilton was handed a post-race penalty for speeding in the pitlane during the early safety car period, which dropped him to 16th in the final results.

At the start, Leclerc appeared to gain well against Verstappen before the polesitter swung left and made sure of the lead into Turn 1, where Leclerc saw off Perez’s attentions and that allowed Daniel Ricciardo to slip ahead into third as they raced away.

Norris never got that far as he was taken out on Turn 1’s outside line – the McLaren an innocent victim of a chain of events involving Hamilton braking very late on the inside and hitting Alonso, who was also close to Stroll and they collided, which put the lead Aston into Norris.

As the McLaren was left stranded on the inside – with Stroll later retiring in the pits the next time by – the safety car was called and the race was neutralised until the start of lap four of 19.

Verstappen aced the restart and immediately pulled out of DRS threat to Leclerc for when the system was finally activated for the first time on lap 5, during which Perez easily got back by Ricciardo with a DRS run down the meandering back straight.

Perez could not then get quickly after Leclerc, who stuck close to Verstappen as they lapped in the low 1m31s bracket no one else could reach.

By the halfway stage, Verstappen led Leclerc by 2.2s, with Perez finally starting to edge closer back towards Leclerc as Ricciardo held off Carlos Sainz behind the second Ferrari.

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Verstappen then reported his car balance and degradation notes for Red Bull was “terrible” with “zero rear grip, like quali”, at which point on lap 10 Leclerc closed back in on the lead to bring the lead back under two seconds.

The gap then rather yo-yoed between the two leaders, but Verstappen eventually pulled away to win by 3.3s, with Perez eating into Leclerc’s advantage through the race’s final third to finish 1.7s further behind in third.

Ricciardo held off Sainz’s race-long attentions in fourth and fifth, with Oscar Piastri also less than a second back in their three-car train adrift of the leaders.

Nico Hulkenberg took seventh for Haas ahead of Hamilton, who had the most dramatic race following the Turn 1 close for which the stewards apportioned no blame – most of his action involving Kevin Magnussen in the other Haas.

Hamilton struggled to get by Magnussen when DRS was activated, complaining about a lack of top speed in his Mercedes.

On lap eight Magnussen cut the chicane ahead of Hamilton, while three laps later they collided through the long Turn 12 right-hander after the back straight – where Magnussen had been coming back from leaving the track.

On lap 14 Hamilton attacked Magnussen on the outside run to Turn 11 but Magnussen braked so late on the inside they both went off and Yuki Tsunoda nipped ahead of the Mercedes.

Magnussen, who buy this time had been handed a 10-second penalty for cutting the chicane, then let Tsunoda and Hamilton by before he was then handed three more penalties for the other incidents involving Hamilton, who repassed Tsunoda’s RB on the final lap.

These included a five-second time addition for track limits abuse, which meant the Dane finished last in the standings, behind Alonso, who had dropped to rear of the field following the Turn 1 contact and later fought Esteban Ocon’s Alpine before the Aston Martin made a late pitstop.

Ocon ended up 15th having served a 10s stop-go penalty during the safety car for hitting Leclerc on the laps to the grip and breaking his own front wing.

Hamilton’s post-race penalty was given for speeding in the pitlane, which occurred on one of the occasions the whole field twice touring through the pits behind the safety car as the lap one crash debris and Norris’s McLaren were cleared away.

Norris faces an investigation now the sprint has concluded for walking across the track back to the pits following the early accident.

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