REIGNING World Champion Max Verstappen took his third Formula 1 Grand Prix victory of 2022, the Red Bull driver overtaking the Ferrari of championship leader Charles Leclerc to score a well-controlled victory in front of a capacity Miami crowd.
Ferrari completed the podium, Leclerc taking 2nd ahead of team mate Carlos Sainz while Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez claimed 4th for Red Bull despite suffering a sensor issue throughout the race.
The inaugural Miami Grand Prix was held in typically hot and humid conditions on the new 5.4km circuit built in the ground of the Hard Rock Stadium, home to the Miami Dolphins NFL team. The event attracted celebrities from the worlds of sport, music, politics and culture, marking another important step in Formula 1’s goal of developing the sport in the USA.
“This was another important win for Max and, when you consider that he has won every race he has finished this season, we can say that Red Bull have definitely got a faster package than Ferrari,” said Mika Hakkinen. “Max’s race was so strong. He made such a good start to take 2nd from Carlos Sainz and his overtake of Charles Leclerc on lap 9 was perfectly executed.”
“The Red Bull had a straight-line speed advantage over the Ferrari which meant that, even when Charles has the benefit of the drag reduction system, he was still unable to come back at Max. When we had the late safety car period – caused by the collision between Lando Norris’s McLaren and Pierre Gasly’s Alpha Tauri – Charles really pushed hard but Max was able to defend and pull away. He was totally in control.”
“Ferrari are planning to bring some upgrades to their car and Charles and Carlos will really need those developments to give them a lot more performance because the Red Bull is looking so strong. Reliability seems to be the only weakness at Red Bull – Max had a costly problem on Friday, for example – but if they can find perfect reliability Ferrari is going to find life difficult.”
Behind Sergio Perez, finishing 5th and 6th, came the Mercedes of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.
“Mercedes had a strange weekend, ultimately ending with quite a positive result,” said Mika. “They looked really quick on Friday – George was fastest in second practice and Lewis was 4th – but as the track conditions evolved into Saturday their speed fell away. George did a very good job to look after his tyres and run long in the race, holding out for a safety car period, and that worked really well for him. I know Lewis was not happy with the strategy his team gave him, but the safety car was outside their control and the team should really be quite satisfied to have both cars in the top six in spite of their problems.”
Finland’s Valtteri Bottas qualified his Alfa Romeo in 5th position, the quickest drivers behind the two Ferraris and Red Bulls, and held that throughout the race until his car ran wide, allowing the chasing Mercedes to overtake.
“Valtteri did an amazing job again this weekend,” said Mika. “The Mercedes is not a race winning car but it is the 3rd fastest car in F1 at the moment, so it was a really good effort for Valtteri to out-qualify them and teams like McLaren and Alpha Tauri. He will be frustrated not to finish 5th, but he has again scored good points for the team and keep them 5th in the World Championship.”
“Ultimately there were two winners this weekend – Max Verstappen and Formula 1 itself. To see sporting legends like Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Venus Williams and David Beckham attend, and former First Lady Michelle Obama watching qualifying in the Mercedes garage, it was a very special event. For a Formula 1 race to attract America’s A-list celebrities from sport, music, film and culture shows how much success F1’s owners are having. With a third American Grand Prix being added in Las Vegas next year, interest is only going to increase.”