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Miami GP race analysis – why BOLD Verstappen and Hamilton strategy decisions paid off

Miami GP race analysis – why BOLD Verstappen and Hamilton strategy decisions paid off

F1 News

Miami GP race analysis – why BOLD Verstappen and Hamilton strategy decisions paid off

Miami GP race analysis – why BOLD Verstappen and Hamilton strategy decisions paid off
Shubham Sangodkar

The Miami Grand Prix promised to be entertaining with its uncertainty in weather, rapid track evolution and multiple tyre strategy opportunities. However little did we know that we would have a complete clean race.

We didn’t have a single yellow flag, virtual safety car, safety car, red flag, retirement or error during the pit stops, basically meaning the teams and drivers put together 1138 'flawless laps' (18*57, and 2*56 for the lapped cars). Max Verstappen could just drive the car home, finishing first on the hard compound tyres after blowing past the field.

Let us dive into the data to understand the race pace of the top teams and the midfield.

Race pace: Top 4 teams

The expected tyre strategy going into the race was a one-stop, starting on the medium and finishing on the hard. All the top team drivers seemed to be starting on this strategy except for Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, who opted to start on the hard compound tyre.

This made sense, as both the drivers had a pace advantage over other drivers around them, so the thinking must have been to push long into the first stint and take advantage of the clean air that they would get when the drivers in front of them on the mediums would pit.

What the teams didn't expect was virtually zero tyre degradation on the hard compound tyre, which put both Verstappen and Hamilton into a great position against their competitors.

Max Verstappen vs Sergio Perez

The key battle was between the two Red Bull drivers. Max Verstappen has improved massively with tyre management over the years, and the two-time world champion showcased his skill with the tyres.

Perez pitted to swap from the mediums to the hards on lap 20, joining the track back in P2, 17 seconds behind his team-mate. At this point, everyone expected Perez to catch up with the Dutchman, who still had to make a pitstop and lose the approximated 17 seconds they took through the short pitlane.

From lap 20 to 33, Verstappen and Perez were very evenly paced, thanks to the minimum tyre degradation on the hard compound tire. Perez was able to close the gap only to 15 seconds during these laps.

As the reigning champion's pit window was approaching, he started to lean on the tyres a bit more, clocking faster times than his team-mate from lap 33 to 43 and opening the gap to 18 seconds; less than the pitstop time loss.

A slightly sluggish pit stop for Verstappen on lap 43 meant that he came out just a single second behind Perez, who put up a defence but couldn't hold out against the superior performance of the fresh medium tyres.

Key insights

– The Red Bulls were 0.6-0.7 seconds faster on average compared to the other teams.

Ferrari struggled with tyre wear in this race. Sainz could not keep up with Alonso and Russell, while Leclerc had trouble passing Magnussen, before eventually being overtaken by Hamilton.

– Alonso drove a brilliantly calibrated race, extending his first stint on mediums to 24 laps and then using the tyre age delta performance to overtake Sainz on the hards and drive off to a comfortable podium place.

Race pace: Midfield

As mentioned in our pre-race predictions article, the Alpines looked the most competitive from the midfield pack, while McLaren showed signs of struggling.

This reflected itself in the race, with the Alpine drivers finishing P8 and P9, while the McLaren drivers finished P17 and P19 – albeit with a little assist from Nyck de Vries to hold up Oscar Piastri.

The surprise of the lot was Kevin Magnussen, who drove a brilliant race to get Haas points in their home race.

Key insights

Alpine's Baku aero update seems to have put them at the head of the midfield.

– The midfield otherwise looks closely contested, with 0.1-0.2 sec of average race pace covering Williams, Haas, Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri.

– McLaren's lack of pace is puzzling. Maybe they have not yet fully understood which window to run their car in with the new floor update.

READ MORE: F1 Race Engineers: The stars of team radio with Hamilton, Verstappen and co

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