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Verstappen cruises to sprint race victory at Miami Grand Prix

By AFP

May 4, 2024 11:06 PM


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Red Bull's Max Verstappen cruised to victory in the Miami Grand Prix's sprint race on Saturday finishing a full 3.3 seconds ahead of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

The reigning three-times world champion and current championship leader, who is looking for a third straight Miami Grand Prix victory on Sunday, led from pole and was never challenged after a chaotic opening lap.

Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez was third as the world champions gave themselves a points boost ahead of qualifying later on Saturday.

Verstappen has won four of the five Grand Prix races so far this season and looks well set for a fourth straight world championship.

Dutchman Verstappen held off Leclerc's strong start to secure his place at the front but there was plenty of action and incident in the middle of the pack.

Haas's Kevin Magnussen and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton jousted hard but in the end the Dane picked up three penalties, adding 25 seconds to his time, after frequently leaving the track and gaining advantage.

Hamilton also received a penalty, leaving him outside the points positions in 16th after speeding in the pit lane.

The safety car was brought out after the first lap which saw a start line incident involving Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Lance Stroll and Lando Norris.

But away from those skirmishes, it was business as usual for Verstappen, who adds another eight points to his season tally with the victory.

"I think my engine wasn't good in the start and so then I had to speed it a bit, luckily everything worked out in turn one," said Verstappen.

  'Calm things down'-

"Then we had the safety car just to calm things down a bit after that. Steadily we could increase the gap a little bit, but it wasn't entirely perfect so we still have a bit of work to do," he added.

"We can still fine tune the car a little bit, so hopefully we can improve for later on in qualifying and especially for tomorrow in the race".

Australian Daniel Ricciardo, of RB, finished fourth in the sprint after holding of Ferrari's Carlos Sainz.

"Every big result always feels like it is a needed one. It's a happy feeling, a powerful feeling....nice to keep a few people quiet," said Ricciardo.

Magnusson accepted his penalties were "well deserved" and Hamilton said he had enjoyed the duel.

"I think that is pretty honest of him and I think that is pretty cool," he said.

"We had a good race. It was a little bit on the edge in some places, but that's what I love. I love racing hard and, for me, I wasn't really frustrated or anything," added the British driver.

Leclerc has had some disappointments of late in qualifying and felt he had gone some way to answering his critics.

"I'm happy because there is so much talk now and you are as good as your last race in this sport and you have two races in a row when you are bad in qualifying - and I haven’t done a great job - people start to talk," said the Ferrari driver.

"But now we have to work on the consistency and try to stay at that level."


AFP


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