Max Verstappen used easy driving on Sunday to keep Red Bull unbeaten on the season, as the two-time reigning Formula One champion drove from ninth place to victory in the Miami Grand Prix.
Red Bull has won all five races so far this season, and teammate Sergio Perez’s second-place finish in Miami was Red Bull’s fourth 1-2 this year. Verstappen has three wins this season, while Perez, the polesitter in Miami, has two.
The win was the 38th of his career for Verstappen, who tied Sebastian Vettel for the most wins for Red Bull. At this rate, he will break Vettel’s record at the end of what many critics are already complaining about as a boring season dominated by Red Bull.
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«I just call it (expletive) lovely,» Verstappen said on his radio. «That was a good race, a good race overall, so thank you very much. It was very, very good, good for the team as well, again.»
Red Bull boss Christian Horner praised Verstappen’s poise during the 57-lap race that gave him his second consecutive victory in Miami.
«Well done Max. That was a powerful mid stage, really impressive on the hard tire and thanks for running clean with your teammate,» said Horner.
Red Bull has said it will allow Verstappen and Perez to compete fairly for the championship, and Perez looked set to take the points lead in Miami starting from pole position. Verstappen was relegated to a starting position of ninth because qualifying was interrupted before his last qualifying attempt by a crash by Charles Leclerc.
But the Dutchman had no problem driving through the field. He went from ninth to sixth in the first four laps, taking advantage of a two-car pass in a turn to gain ground. He was fifth on lap nine, fourth on lap 12 and finally behind Perez in second on lap 15.
Verstappen took the lead when Pérez pitted on lap 20 and held a nearly 18-second lead with 15 laps remaining. When he finally made his pit stop, Verstappen returned to the track in second place, but only 1.6sec behind Perez.
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It took just a few minutes to pass Perez for the win, taking the lead in a wheel-to-wheel battle with nine laps remaining. Although Verstappen has won from a lower starting position before, he becomes the first driver since Niki Lauda at the 1984 French Grand Prix to win from ninth position.
The victory also came on the anniversary of the 2016 announcement that Verstappen would be promoted from the junior team to Red Bull before the fifth round of that season.
Perez finished second, a full 5.3 seconds behind Verstappen.
«I tried, I gave it my all,» Perez said as the crowd chanted his nickname «Checo! Checo! Checo!»
Fernando Alonso was third for Aston Martin but finished 26 seconds behind. It was the fourth podium in five races for the resurgent Spaniard.
«It wasn’t easy, it was never easy, but it was a lonely race,» Alonso said.
George Russell was fourth for Mercedes, followed by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who drove from 13th to sixth. Leclerc was seventh, and Alpine riders Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon were eighth and ninth.
Kevin Magnussen, a driver for the American Haas team, finished 10th to score a point for the second time this season. Haas has used the Miami race to highlight all of its American sponsors, including Chipotle, which promised 10,000 free burritos if a Haas driver scored a point on Sunday.
Logan Sargeant, the first American driver on the grid since 2015, finished last at his home race. Sargeant was born and raised less than 20 miles from the speedway in Fort Lauderdale. He started last.
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The sold-out crowd of 90,766 included Jeff Bezos, Tom Cruise, Elon Musk, Serena and Venus Williams, and Roger Federer, while LL Cool J handled the driver introductions. The drivers came out with a new will.i.am song called «The Formula» made specifically for Sunday’s race. The song, which is a collaboration with Lil Wayne, was performed by a symphony.