Verstappen overhauls Perez for Miami GP victory as Red Bull intra-team battle steps up a gear
Max Verstappen struck back in the 2023 title race by beating Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez to victory during Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix, recovering from ninth on the grid to pass the pole-sitter in the closing stages of an intriguing, strategic race.
Perez had slashed Verstappen’s championship advantage to just six points with a Sprint and Grand Prix double last time out in Azerbaijan, and a topsy-turvy qualifying session at the Miami International Autodrome gave him a golden opportunity to move to the top of the standings.
However, while Perez led the majority of the race on a medium-hard tyre strategy, Verstappen expertly stretched out his initial stint on hards to rise from P9 to P1 via a series of fine moves, and he emerged just behind his team mate with a fresh set of mediums late on.
With 10 laps remaining, Verstappen comfortably cleared Perez to move into a lead that he would not relinquish, meaning the Mexican had to settle for the runner-up spot and lose some of the ground he had made up in the title race.
In addition to a statement victory, Verstappen picked up the fastest lap bonus point to top up his tally and the ‘Driver of the Day’ award, with fans suitably impressed by his charge through the field.
With the Red Bulls again in a league of their own, it was left to Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin to claim the ‘best of the rest’ spot in third, making it four podium finishes in five races for the new partnership.
George Russell was the lead Mercedes in fourth, thanks in part to team mate Lewis Hamilton moving out of his way on a different strategy earlier in the race, getting the better of Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz in the process.
Sainz was hit with a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pits during his swap of tyres, but there was enough of a gap back to Hamilton and team mate Charles Leclerc to keep fifth position at the chequered flag.
Alpine bounced back from their Baku nightmare with a double points finish, Pierre Gasly leading home team mate Esteban Ocon, while Haas driver Kevin Magnussen rounded out the points-paying positions after his P4 start.
Yuki Tsunoda just missed out on another point in his AlphaTauri, having scored in Australia and Azerbaijan, taking P11 ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll with some defensive driving to the finish line.
Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas ran inside the points early in the race but dropped back to 13th as the various tyre strategies played out, followed by the Williams of Alex Albon, Haas of Nico Hulkenberg and team mate Zhou Guanyu.
McLaren pair Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri had quiet races en route to 17th and 19th respectively, having been the only drivers to start on soft tyres. They were split by the other AlphaTauri of Nyck de Vries, with home favourite Logan Sargeant bringing up the rear after an early pit stop for a new front wing.
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Photo's: Max Verstappen social | Oracle Red Bull Racing