Formula One world champion Max Verstappen won the inaugural Miami Grand Prix for Red Bull on Sunday, slashing Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc’s overall lead from 27 to 19 points after five races.
Leclerc finished a fighting second, 3.786 seconds behind after starting in pole position, with Spanish team mate Carlos Sainz completing the podium at the Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium.
The victory was the Dutch driver’s third of the season, and second in a row, and he made it happen with a crucial overtake around the outside on Sainz at the start to seize second place before blasting past Leclerc on the ninth of the 57 laps.
Verstappen, who also made sure of the bonus point for fastest lap, had looked to be cruising to victory until McLaren’s Lando Norris collided with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and crashed on lap 41, triggering the safety car.
That allowed Leclerc to close the gap and get back into contention over the final 10 laps.
“It was an incredible Grand Prix,” said Verstappen, who has won every race he has finished so far this season and was handed his winner’s trophy by Dolphins NFL quarterback great Dan Marino. “(It was) very physical but I think we kept it exciting until the end.”
The race drew a cast of A-list celebrities, sporting greats and a sell-out crowd as Formula One basked in a wave of popularity fuelled by the Netflix docu-series ‘Drive to Survive’.
“It’s been insane. I’ve never known such interest, such passion and a huge, huge event,” said Red Bull boss Christian Horner. “I think it’s been great for the American public to tune into Formula One. It’s been a great event and an exciting race in the end as well.”