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Verstappen bests Leclerc to take win at maiden Miami GP

Max Verstappen

Miami, May 9: Max Verstappen sealed his second straight Formula One win by getting the better of Charles Leclerc at the maiden Miami Grand Prix.

Reigning champion Verstappen – who started in third – got past Carlos Sainz and pole-sitter Leclerc in the early stages and never looked back.

It was not entirely plain sailing for the Red Bull driver, with a safety car deployed after Lando Norris collided with Pierre Gasly seeing his seven-second advantage evaporate.

Leclerc was on Verstappen's tail thereafter, but the Dutchman got out of DRS range by setting the fastest lap and cut the Monegasque's championship lead to 19 points.

Verstappen got away well at lights out and dived down the outside of Sainz at Turn One, while DRS helped him reel in Leclerc by lap nine.

Leclerc was unable to retaliate with the Ferrari lacking pace on the straights, and Verstappen gradually established a lead of almost eight seconds.

The collision between Norris and Gasly, which forced both drivers to retire, initially brought out a virtual safety car on lap 41 of 57, but that was quickly upgraded to a full safety car.

Neither Verstappen nor Leclerc were able to get into the pits quick enough for fresh tyres, but the Ferrari man was seemingly energised by having the Red Bull back in his sights.

However, after failing to make a move, Leclerc started to lose time and Verstappen took the chequered flag in relative comfort.

Dig deep

After the win,Verstappen acknowledged he had to dig deep in order to follow up his success at Imola with another victory.

"It was an incredible grand prix. Very physical as well, but I think we kept it exciting until the end," said Verstappen.

"I am really happy with winning here in Miami, it was an incredible Sunday for us."

Meanwhile, Leclerc admitted it was a tough race.

The Dutchman pulled out the fastest lap to get away from the championship leader, whose lead was consequently cut to 19 points.

"It was a very difficult race physically. We struggled quite a bit on the medium tyres in the first stint and got overtaken. It made our race a bit more difficult from that moment onwards," said Leclerc.

"On the hard we were very competitive and towards the end I thought I could get Max at one point, but they had the advantage in terms of pace.

"We need to keep pushing. Upgrades will be important, and I hope now we can do a step up from the next race onwards. It has been an exciting beginning to the season and that's what we like to see."

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Story first published: Monday, May 9, 2022, 2:50 [IST]
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