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Red Bull throw down gauntlet as Mercedes overcome disappearance - What we learned at the Miami Grand Prix

Red Bull throw down gauntlet as Mercedes overcome disappearance - What we learned at the Miami Grand Prix

F1 News

Red Bull throw down gauntlet as Mercedes overcome disappearance - What we learned at the Miami Grand Prix

Red Bull throw down gauntlet as Mercedes overcome disappearance - What we learned at the Miami Grand Prix

Reigning F1 world champion Max Verstappen made it three wins from five at the inaugural Miami Grand Prix after fending off a late Charles Leclerc charge.

The Red Bull driver was comfortable in the lead until a late safety car period but still had plenty in reserve to close the gap at the top of the drivers' standings to 19 points.

But during a feverous weekend that saw Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes hit trouble, what did we learn at the Miami International Autodrome?

Red Bull the team to beat

If it wasn't clear after the weekend in Imola that Red Bull is ahead of Ferrari, then now we can say with confidence the Milton Keynes-based outfit is the team to beat.

Ferrari may have taken a front-row lockout in qualifying as Charles Leclerc beat Carlos Sainz to secure pole, but in the race, the Scuderia simply had no answer for Verstappen.

Red Bull is able to run slightly lower downforce than Ferrari, allowing for a greater top speed in a straight line. Yes, Leclerc was faster than Verstappen in the twisting corners but that is no good when you can't get past, even with DRS assistance.

The RB18 also looks kinder on the Pirelli rubber than the F1-75s which will be a factor through the season.

One issue that still lingers though is reliability, with Verstappen suffering hydraulic problems on Friday and Sergio Perez struggling to finish the race with a power unit issue in the latter stages of the race.

Had it not been for a loss of power, the Mexican would have almost certainly been on the podium.

Make no bones about it, Ferrari has its work cut out.

Mercedes scramble to positive finish despite woe confusion

It is hard to tell what is going on at Mercedes.

A hefty upgrade package including new front, rear and beam wings arrived in Miami and looked to be working well with George Russell going fastest in FP2.

Yet come qualifying on Saturday, the pace evaporated faster than a Miami rain shower with the Briton capable only of 12th on the grid.

Lewis Hamilton fared better but then missed out on the points he deserved because of the timing of a safety car yet again, with the seven-time champion in desperate need of some luck in that department again.

But fifth and sixth was a good result for the team to keep that motivation going. Who knows what morale would have been if the Silver Arrows weren't at least the third-fastest team after Friday's glimmer of hope.

Bottas rejuvenated at Alfa Romeo

Former Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas should have finished ahead of both Silver Arrows on Sunday.

The Finn has been a different person since moving to Alfa Romeo with a real team leader's attitude backed by strong performances.

For the second race in a row, he out-qualified his former employer and started fifth on the grid and should have finished in the same position.

A mistake at turn 17 late on gifted Russell and Hamilton a way through but nonetheless, the difference in Bottas' demeanour both inside and outside of the car is stark.

If he can motivate the Alfa Romeo factory back at Hinwil, the team really could cement itself as a top-midfield team and challenge for podiums.

Aston Martin continue on the up despite troubles

Imola was a welcome improvement for Aston Martin but many would have pointed to the mixed conditions as an excuse for their midfield rivals.

The team had endured a miserable start to the season but there were signs of a genuine turnaround in Miami, with Lance Stroll reaching Q3 and Sebastian Vettel unfortunate not to follow.

But drama hit before the race with the team failing to reach the minimum prescribed fuel temperature before leaving the garage, meaning a pit-lane start for both drivers, undoing all the hard work of Saturday.

But the team used the alternate strategy to start on hard tyres and pick off cars one by one before pitting late in the race for mediums.

The safety car for Lando Norris' clash with Pierre Gasly no doubt helped, as did a double-penalty for Fernando Alonso in helping Stroll take a point for 10th, but Vettel would have been higher up had he not needed to retire after contact with mentee Mick Schumacher.

After being in danger of solidifying its place as F1's backmarker this season, the Silverstone-based team is showing signs of being a midfield runner.

Schumacher heartbreak part of the learning curve

For Schumacher, the move on Vettel that resulted in contact will go down as another learning moment in his career.

His first points in F1 looked to be in the bag despite letting Vettel through with an error at turn 17 but the contact consigned him to be the last of the drivers to finish the race.

The pain could be heard in his voice over team radio after what was potentially his best weekend in an F1 car.

But with being back to Europe and Spain next time out, one feels Schumacher needs to get those elusive points on the board sooner rather than later.

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