Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Miami International Autodrome, 2023

Verstappen hunts down Perez to take Miami Grand Prix victory

2023 Miami Grand Prix summary

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Max Verstappen recovered from ninth on the grid to overtake team mate Sergio Perez and win the Miami Grand Prix.

After a long first stint on the hard tyres, Verstappen made a late pit stop and rejoined just behind his team mate. He quickly overtook Perez to claim the lead and cruise to the chequered flag. Fernando Alonso finished 20 seconds behind the Red Bulls to take his fourth podium finish of the season.

The top seven starters lined up on the grid on medium compound tyres, with Perez taking his pole position grid slot ahead of Alonso alongside. When the lights went out, Perez successfully held onto the lead ahead of Alonso in second, Carlos Sainz Jnr in third and Pierre Gasly fourth for Alpine after he got ahead of Kevin Magnussen, who fell down to seventh.

Verstappen started from ninth on hard tyres and passed Esteban Ocon for eighth. When DRS was activated on lap three, Verstappen used his Red Bull’s DRS along the pit straight to overtake both Charles Leclerc and Kevin Magnussen to move up to sixth for the start of lap four.

On lap eight, Verstappen gained fifth place from George Russell, passing the Mercedes driver for fifth place into the turn 17 hairpin. One lap later, Verstappen gained fourth place by passing Gasly into turn one, with Russell following the Red Bull through by the Alpine to demote Gasly to sixth.

Verstappen caught and passed Sainz at the hairpin on lap 13 and was soon on the back of second-placed Alonso. Using DRS, he slipped by the Aston Martin into turn 11, completing his comeback through the field to sit around three seconds behind his team mate.

Perez eventually pitted at the end of lap 20, switching to hard tyres, which allowed Verstappen through into the lead. The pole-winner rejoined in fourth behind Ocon, but eventually passed the Alpine to take third and slowly begin to shorten the gap to team mate Verstappen ahead.

Sainz pitted earlier than Alonso to successfully undercut the Aston Martin and move into a net third place. However Alonso soon caught up to the Ferrari after pitting five laps later, overtaking him to reclaim that third position. Behind, Russell was allowed past team mate Lewis Hamilton, then dived by Sainz to take fourth place from the Ferrari at turn 11.

Out front, Verstappen very slowly built out his lead over team mate Perez to just over 18 seconds, remaining out for over three-quarters of the race distance on his hard tyres and eventually pitting at the end of lap 45 for medium tyres. He rejoined 1.6 seconds behind team mate Perez in second place, but had closed to within DRS range by the end of that lap.

Perez defended his position into the turn 17 hairpin on the next lap, but that allowed Verstappen to tuck into his slipstream for the pit straight and pull to the outside of turn one. Perez held the inside, but Verstappen had the traction on the exit of the corner to pull ahead and complete the pass for the lead.

Verstappen calmly ticked off the remaining laps to take the chequered flag, and with it his third victory of the season. Perez finished five seconds behind his team mate in seconds, with Alonso another 20 seconds behind the Red Bulls to take the final podium position. Russell finished fourth ahead of Sainz, Hamilton, Leclerc and the two Alpines of Gasly and Ocon. Kevin Magnussen,who started fourth, claimed the final point for Haas in tenth.

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2023 Miami Grand Prix reaction

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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61 comments on “Verstappen hunts down Perez to take Miami Grand Prix victory”

  1. Well…another 1-2 by RBR, no history there, great race from Max, not so great from Perez but a good one, Fernando did also well as Hamilton with the strategy. Poor Ferrari even a Hass was to much today….they have to do it far better.
    Was amazed that Perez did not pitted for the fastest lap beeing 20 seconds ahead of Fernando, who’s call is this? The team? Pilot? Both?

    1. The delta wasn’t large enough, but close: 19.5s in lap 54. If the stop takes an extra second, Fernando is ahead, and I promise you, his car will be wide for the last two laps.
      Remember Max was 18.3s ahead of Sergio, and after the stop he was 1.6 behind.
      And where would Checo end up? Were there lapped cars? I think they mentioned Seargant being a few seconds ahead of Fernando (communication with Russel).
      What tires would you put on the car to take the fastest lap? A used set of softs? Or did they have unused sets available?
      For the team, the FL was secure, and Max was on “halfway mediums”.
      W/O taking great risks, and w/o tire advantage I don’t see Checo taking the FL.

  2. Perez looked defeated. Race 5.

    1. Yes. It was evident on Saturday where he said I could not do what Max is doing and more evident on Sunday where he could not manage the first stint on medium tyres.

      1. Starting on the medium, he had to pull away from Alonso and set up as big a gap (to Verstappen) as possible. When he didn’t, it already looked over.

  3. Verstappen did what everybody was expecting him to do. Perez was the one dropping the ball with a pretty weak first stint in which he failed to pull any gap on Max.

    Sad race by Leclerc, one of the worst of his career, he definitely should not have finished behind Hamilton after starting 6 positions ahead and driving a better car than the Mercedes.

    1. A better car in qualifying, but certainly not in the race. You did see Russel overtaking Sainz too, I believe?
      Charles FUBARed the car twice this weekend, so maybe the mechanics had to make further compromises on setup due to parts shortage.

      1. Sainz is under pressure from other guys almost every race. He doesn’t count.

        Leclerc starting further up would hardly perform worse than that.

        1. In the end of the day, ferrari was the better car of the 2 in quali and merc in the race, the first ferrari driver could only beat the 2nd merc driver, and the history of the season is indeed that ferrari performs better in quali.

          1. I don’t even think Russell was that good, Sainz is the one who can’t make his tyres last even for his life.

            He either holds off guys behind him like in Bahrein and Baku, or they pass him. Him attacking people happened like 4 or 5 times the last 30 races.

            He barely races, he just goes there for a stroll and brings it back in one piece. Turns out sometimes this is enough to beat Leclerc.

        2. But yes, I believe leclerc without the quali mistake should’ve been able to hold off russell.

  4. Solving the Captcha to log in to Racefans was more entertaining than this race. Absolute yawnfest.

    1. COTD right here

      1. Highlight of the entire race was watching Sir Jackie fetch Roger Federer for Martin Brundle with 5 seconds of airtime to go. Nail biting!

        1. The mislabeling of James Marsden as Roger Federer near the end of the race was also scintillating. Can’t wait for the next race!

          1. I also enjoyed the shot of the tarmac, highlight of the race!

  5. It appears that Hard-Medium was a much better strategy – with Max gaining 8 places and passing Checo, while Lewis gained 7 places and overtook Charles.

    I’m not sure what is going on with Ferrari. Quick on a single lap, yet too slow in the race.

    Overtaking with DRS seemed relatively easy.

    What happened to the once great McLaren?!!!

    Fantastic weekend for Kevin.

    1. Lewis and George also split strategy. Lewis finished 20s behind his teammate. So I don’t think the H-M was the better strategy. For Max starting in the midfield it was the most logical choice and he made it work

    2. I don’t think strategy mattered. Max was just faster. He was faster on worn hards than Perez on newer hards. He was just much faster as you would expect a multiple world champion compared to a journeyman. If you reversed the starting positions and strategy I don’t think Perez would have won that race. Strategy was meaningless today.

      1. Yes, I think you could see this also going back to earlier in this season, the race where verstappen started quite far back he was quickly behind perez, while the race where perez started far back he didn’t even make it into the top 5 by the end, must be melbourne.

      2. Between Perez and Verstappen strategy might have been meaningless due to Verstappens speed, but the overall picture was clearly that the H to M was the best strategy due to track temperatures failing 3-4 degrees during the race.

    3. BW (@deliberator)
      7th May 2023, 23:17

      What happened to the once great McLaren?!!!

      They are reliving their 2015 season, presumably out of nostalgia.

      1. WHo’s going to yell GP2 engine?

        1. Norris could take that role, he’s more experienced than piastri and strikes me as someone who would complain when the car sucks season after season.

        2. BW (@deliberator)
          8th May 2023, 4:40

          At this stage, I think a GP2 engine would actually be a step forward.

      2. Piastri was doing great (relatively) up until his car developed a software/brake issue.

        He must be regretting not going to either Williams or Alpine now.

        Riccardo is laughing somewhere and depending on how things continue to go this year, must be eyeing a return in the back half of the year in an Alpha Tauri

        1. I agree Oscar was up to 14th then after the pit stop he started to off a cliff in one lap

  6. some racing fan
    7th May 2023, 23:06

    Max had a better strategy- that’s how he won. Check came in too early, and Max was able to make his tyres last.

    1. Robert Henning
      7th May 2023, 23:20

      Explain Lewis finishing 20s behind Russell.

      This is just pure copium.

      Verstappen was faster, and showed everyone why he is the best driver on the grid.

      1. “Verstappen was faster, and showed everyone why he is the best driver on the grid.”

        purely the car. more so than mercedes ever was. he didnt really show much pace on a inferior car yet.

        1. Robert Henning
          7th May 2023, 23:57

          Yeah, some more copium will be helpful, keep using it.

        2. I remember verstappen being really fast at red bull even before 2021.

        3. There was a season merc was really dominant, pretty sure it’s 2020, and despite that verstappen was basically able to match bottas’ points.

        4. BW (@deliberator)
          8th May 2023, 4:49

          @mysticus – Regarding Mercedes, I’m assuming you missed, at least, the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2020 seasons?

          And it’s not “purely the car”, else Perez would be equally far ahead. The Red Bull may be a great car, but it still takes someone special to get the results out of it consistently. Just as Hamilton did with the Mercedes, Schumacher did with the Ferrari, Senna/Prost out of the Mclaren, etc etc.

      2. Verstappen is special, but to use this race to illustrate that he is the better driver is laughable.
        Put them all in go karts then, let’s see if he makes light work of everybody else as fast and easy as he did today. Alonso and Sainz didn’t even put up a fight, they know it’s a worthless effort.

        The race did show that he is better than Perez, i’ll give you that, as if anyone in the world still had any doubts about that.

        1. You know he beats Charles (and more drivers today in the field) in his cart periode…. He was really fast after that in the Winter games Miami With Lance and Will Buxton (Will was last) but everyone saw his speed in F3 why do you think he was in F1 next year.

          1. doesn’t change at the slightest the fact that he wouldn’t do the same as he does with his Red Bull.

        2. Pjotr (@pietkoster)
          8th May 2023, 8:13

          Check Carts WDC history and you see who of current F1 maybe can keep up with Verstappen in a cart. Norris, Leclerc, de Vries.

          1. Pjotr (@pietkoster)
            8th May 2023, 8:14

            Bad English… But you’ll understand.

          2. doesn’t change at the slightest the fact that he wouldn’t do the same as he does with his Red Bull. (2)

      3. Lewis was in trafic for the larger part of the race, Russell wasn’t and he just outdrove Hamilton. Every time he had an opening for an overtake, he took it right away without missing out a lot of time whereas Hamilton was stuck behind for multiple laps during his hard tyre stint.
        Verstappen showed he was the fastest, but Russell showed he was up there as well.

        1. Hamilton was stuck in a 4 car DRS train. Care to elaborate what was he supposed to do exactly? Russell was not in such a bad position after he pitted and even then his DRS train was cut short by drivers ahead of him pitting. Until then, he was unable to overtake as well so not sure what you are talking about.

  7. Just watched the highlights. Lots of dull DRS lunges that even the commentators no longer pretend are battles.

    Not sure what Leclerc was doing. From the short clips it looked rather… bad? Will have to hear more about that.

  8. For the whole race I’ll just say – Pirelli’s philosophy and the overall approach is quite strange. There’s no benefit in softer compounds, they generally drop off after a few laps and you cannot even push, while the hards last for the whole race and beyond – and in competitive pace.

    1. Yes, absolutely, softs have been terrible for a while now and hards are incredible, verstappen did over 40 laps at great pace on them.

      Never been a pirelli fan also.

    2. That’s a good observation. The grip/pace/durability balance isn’t what’s being advertised with the different compounds.

      That said, it’s not unusual for the best car to also handle the tyres best.

  9. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    7th May 2023, 23:58

    How is there one car so fast on the straights compared to the others? Red Bull just waltz past on the straights something isnt quite right here. The regs are awful and this is proving to be one of the most inspid years ever on some of the most uninspiring tracks ever.

    1. Well, we’ve recently had a decade of another car doing it, so in that sense it isn’t that unexpected. Regarding the tracks I agree. So far I’ve seen a lot of Mickey Mouse tracks this season and it is really starting to annoy me. Save these track for other categories please, a F1 car doesn’t belong there.

  10. Neil (@neilosjames)
    8th May 2023, 0:15

    I expected after qualifying that Verstappen would go for the alternate strategy, be quicker than Perez at the end on softer tyres and win.

    I normally like being right, but my dream of a world title ‘fight’ depends on Perez taking gift-wrapped opportunities like this one, so it’s quite disappointing on this occasion.

    1. Verstappen was only like 4 sec behind when he got to 4th place after a few laps, the race was over then, and keeping the gap so low despite having to recover is hint of an incredible pace compared to anyone else, I remember an interesting recovery by hamilton in brazil 2017: he had already mathematically won the title, but crashed in quali, so he started from the pit lane and recovered up to 4th place, but he ran out of tyres right when he needed them the most, since he had raikkonen on ferrari in front and wasn’t able to overtake him, despite this he ended right behind winner vettel, 6 seconds distance despite starting from the pit lane.

      When something like this happens there’s a significant superiority by the driver starting on the back, so I didn’t expect perez to be able to defend, although he tried, but tyre delta was just too much, I’m guessing he will need some luck like rosberg in 2016 in order to give verstappen a challenge.

    2. In my opinion that is only because Perez is hyped sometimes. This creates false expectations.

      1. @mayrton I agree: the way some go on about Perez like he will ever beat a top-tier driver in a straight fight. It wouldn’t just be Verstappen either: Hamilton, Alonso, Leclerc, Norris, Russell (even though I don’t like him) – all of them would beat Perez hands down over the course of a season. That’s just of the drivers that I know enough about to judge.

  11. Swap sergeant and max seats and we have an exciting championship battle

    1. I think that Williams has no budget for that ;-). But great idea!

  12. I already think the FIA need to change the rear wing rules just to limit red bulls pace, the performance gap is too big and it’s making the races boring.

    1. Maybe, but what about 2014-2020 then? Didn’t interfere then, so why now?

  13. A curious observation: all the Ferrari powered cars went backwards on Sunday from their starting position with the exception of Leclerc who ended up where he qualified. Without the crash on Saturday, he would probably have qualified higher but gone backwards in the race. I think the there is something fundamentally wrong not just in how the cars manage the tyres but probably in energy deployment making Ferrari powered cars more powerful over one lap than a Grand Prix distance.

    1. Interesting point. I personally have the idea (could be totally wrong here) some teams focus on Saturdays rather than Sundays and it makes no sense at all they do it. Almost comes across as a testosterone thing or something. Why on earth would you be interested in Saturdays? Ferrari has always had this. In my (limited) view they seem to prioritise single lap speed over race pace. Or is it that the car overall can’t keep up anyways and they just focus on getting the max out over a single lap to make somewhat of an impression? They are making it way too easy for others to beat them.

      1. Ferrari are a mystery and have been for several years now. They do great on Saturdays with a tendency to fall backwards in the race pretty much since they hired Leclerc.
        While 2019 could to an extent be explained with some shady engine modes it’s still remarkable that they consistently qualified in the top 5 in 2020, even higher in 2021 and of course 2022 only to fall back on Sundays.
        But again that really does apply only to Charles Leclerc. The second car, be it Vettel, be it Sainz is much more consistent. So it’s either Leclerc who’s doing all the difference in qualifying or Ferrari getting it seriously wrong with his set-up, but after 5 years you would assume they have learned…

  14. How much will the Mercedes look like the Aston next race? Also, looking at you McLaren …. waste of two very good drivers.

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