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Verstappen powers to victory in Miami after battling past Perez

Verstappen powers to victory in Miami after battling past Perez

Verstappen powers to victory in Miami after battling past Perez

Verstappen powers to victory in Miami after battling past Perez

An imperious Max Verstappen charged through the pack to clinch victory at the Miami Grand Prix after overcoming team-mate Sergio Perez.

In the closing stages of a relatively uneventful race at the Miami International Autodrome, Verstappen breezed beyond his Red Bull rival on fresh tyres, tightening his grip on the drivers' championship in the process.

Verstappen delivered a red-hot performance and utilised an off-set tyre strategy to better Perez, despite the Mexican starting from pole position.

The world champion impressed with a long first stint on hard tyres before pitting 25 laps later than Perez, re-joining a second behind and then overtaking him.

Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso clinched third place while George Russell salvaged a difficult weekend for Mercedes after finishing fourth.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz crossed the line in fifth while Lewis Hamilton took sixth, capping off an impressive drive after starting the day in 13th.

Charles Leclerc was forced to settle for seventh, with Pierre Gasly, Esteban Ocon and Kevin Magnussen making up the rest of the top 10.

Red Bull's strong start

Pole sitter Perez eased away with a superb start, allowing him to hold off pressure from Alonso while Sainz kept his grip on third. Verstappen briefly dropped a place, however, before clawing back ninth in his bid to avoid being dragged into shunts.

While Perez powered ahead in clean air, the world champion set about gunning for the rest of the pack. On lap two, he glided beyond Valtteri Bottas and completed a superb move two laps later to pass the tussling Magnussen and Leclerc.

The Ferrari driver found himself caught twice in a costly couple of seconds down the main straight, damaging his hopes of clinching a podium.

Marooned in the midfield, meanwhile, a frustrated Hamilton reported contact before voicing his fear that he would not complete the race.

Shortly after, Verstappen avoided fireworks when beating Russell and slipping past Gasly, moving the championship leader into the top four just 10 laps in.

Hamilton reported contact over team radio on a mixed outing

Verstappen on a roll

Leclerc, staying ahead of the DRS train forming around Bottas, took Magnussen into turn one before flailing on the brakes, allowing the Haas to retake the position.

His Ferrari team-mate, who had been running third, then reported issues with his medium-compound tyres, with the hard compound instead appearing the quickest.

Verstappen benefitted in roaring fashion as he cut a swathe through the field and closed the gap on Perez. Utilising the RB19's superior speed on the straights, the Dutchman cruised past Sainz and into the podium places.

Alonso was then reduced to a speck in the distance, Verstappen stealing a glance at P2 and taking the position, placing him squarely behind his title rival.

Several drivers took the opportunity to return to the drawing board while the race for first unfolded, with Leclerc and Russell among those pitting for fresh rubber.

Unsurprisingly, Perez also dived into the pits for hard tyres and re-emerged in fourth, freeing up room for Verstappen to take the lead.

Perez enjoyed a superb start to the race but was bettered by his team-mate

Duel for the top spots

Perez wasted little time in moving back into the top three, passing Ocon with ease, and then fixed his sights on Alonso. On lap 25, he edged back ahead of the Aston Martin after the veteran pitted at the end of a lengthy stint.

Narrowly adrift of the top three, Sainz was hit with a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane, having locked up in a bid to undercut Alonso.

His afternoon then took another turn for the worse, Alonso bursting into DRS range and ducking neatly inside his compatriot to take fourth place. The same driver continued his podium charge after passing Ocon, who had not pitted.

Further back, the two Mercedes drivers were instructed to change positions, with Hamilton giving way for the quicker Russell to move into sixth place.

As the race ticked beyond the halfway stage, the ailing Leclerc, out of the points and running in 12th, complained of his Ferrari skipping and jumping untidily.

Alonso took the final podium place after a steady drive

Podium fight peters out

In the fight for the podium, Russell continued his unlikely charge on the top three and coasted past Sainz to take fourth, moving him five seconds adrift of Alonso.

Verstappen's imperious push took his effective track position after his first stop to just over a second behind Perez, firmly placing him in the driving seat.

And to the disappointment of the crowd, Perez was unable to defend against his red-hot team-mate, forcing him to settle for second in the race and the standings.

Ultimately, Alonso comfortably held on to third ahead of the pacey Russell.

Full Miami Grand Prix 2023 results

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull): 1:27:38.241

2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull): +5.384

3. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin): +26.305

4. George Russell (Mercedes): +33.229

5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari): +42.511

6. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes): +51.249

7. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari): +52.988

8. Pierre Gasly (Alpine): +55.670

9. Esteban Ocon (Alpine): +58.123

10. Kevin Magnussen (Haas): +62.945

11. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri): +64.309

12. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin): +64.754

13. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo): +71.637

14. Alex Albon (Williams): +72.861

15. Nico Hulkenberg (Haas): +74.950

16. Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo): +78.440

17. Lando Norris (McLaren): +87.717

18. Nyck de Vries (AlphaTauri): +88.949

19. Oscar Piastri (McLaren): 1 LAP

20. Logan Sargeant (Williams): 1 LAP

READ MORE: Perez leads as Hamilton in strife - Miami GP lap one recap

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