As usual at the Miami Grand Prix on Sunday, the only question was not whether Red Bull would win the race. It was which The Red Bull driver will win the race.
Sergio Perez started from pole position and briefly led. And then Max Verstappen. And then back to Perez. And then, finally, Verstappen. This, regular Formula 1 watchers will tell you, is the norm these days.
This week’s winner? Verstappen got past Perez after a late pit stop and sprinted away to take his third win of the season. (Perez has the other two; Red Bull is still unbeaten in five races this year.)
Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso finished third, again, his fourth finish in five starts. Formula 1 is the best in the class in many respects; Amazing people, it seems, are not among them now.
Verstappen’s victory, after a rare slip-up in qualifying left him far behind in the opening stages, will continue beyond Sunday as it allowed him to extend his lead over Perez in the season points race. That edge, which had shrunk to 6 points, is now a comfortable 14.
But the victory re-established Verstappen as the best driver in Formula 1’s best team, and the betting favorite to win next time, and the time after that, and the time after that.
“I made it hard on myself,” Verstappen said before the race, referring to a rare error in qualifying that led to his ninth start in the 20-driver grid. “But we’re going to have a good day.”
He was right. But this year has been a good year for Red Bull.
Where the race turned
20 to 40 rounds. Perez started fast and led for about 20 laps, before he found himself on the same hard tires as Verstappen, climbing through the field behind him to second. As soon as Perez handed the lead to him, Verstappen quickly pulled away: at one point he opened up a lead of almost 20 seconds on the rest of the field.
Of course, Verstappen still had to pit. But by then his lead had grown so large that by the 46th of 57 laps, when he emerged from the pit lane, he did so with fresh tires and a clear streak on Perez, only a few yards ahead of the Miami Dolphins on the track. ‘Hard Rock Stadium. Verstappen took less than two laps to run around his teammate and that was it.
“Well done, Max,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told Verstappen over the radio as he crossed the finish line. “That’s a great middle ground.”
Race in photos
Better days, ranking
1. Red Bull. As always, Verstappen goes to bed a little happier than Perez.
2. Fernando Alonso. Have you ever seen people who are so happy to get third place every time?
3. Mercedes. George Russell finished fourth and Lewis Hamilton, who started 13th, finished sixth. Mercedes continues to make improvements, both Russell and Hamilton muttered on the radio at times on Sunday. But given where the team has been – with team principal Toto Wolff scolding reporters this week that his own team’s car was “a bad job” – Sunday was a good day.
Red Bull’s results this season:
Bahrain: Verstappen B1, Perez B2
Saudi Arabia: Perez B1, Verstappen B2
Australia: Verstappen B1, Perez B5
Azerbaijan: Perez B1, Verstappen B2
Miami: Verstappen B1, Perez B2
Driving Championship Levels
At this point Red Bull’s only race is against itself: