Max Verstappen cut his title deficit to 19 points with a dominant victory at 2022 Miami Grand Prix.
Verstappen made a strong start to clear Carlos Sainz at Turn Two for second before he calmly reeled Leclerc in, which enabled him to pass his title rival on Lap 9 at Turn One to take the lead and proceeded to control the race.
A late Safety Car following a race-ending collision for Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly on Lap 41 however failed to yield success on the restart for Leclerc as he tried to snatch victory from Leclerc’s grasp.
Sainz finished third ahead of Sergio Perez, George Russell, Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon, Fernando Alonso and Alex Albon who rounded out the top ten.
In the driver standings, Leclerc’s lead was further reduced to just 19 points as Verstappen moved onto 85 points with Perez, Russell and Sainz rounding out the top five.
Amidst intermittent rain showers in the hours leading up to the race, conditions were dry once the formation lap began minus the Aston Martin pair of Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel, who both began from the pit lane due to fuel related issues.
At lights out, Leclerc made a clean start to claim the lead as Sainz was outbraked by Verstappen through the opening two corners, with Perez staying fourth as the top four quickly settled into position.
Hamilton meanwhile lost two positions to Pierre Gasly and Alonso to slip to eighth but was able to recover seventh on Lap Three, before passing Gasly for sixth three laps later with Alfa Romeo’s Guanyu Zhou retiring a further lap later.
Up front, Verstappen quietly reeled Leclerc in and was able to get the momentum through the final sector on Lap Eight, which enabled him to pass the Monegasque into the opening corner of the next lap.
Verstappen then settled down into the lead as the racing action went quiet up front amongst the Red Bull and Ferrari drivers, despite Perez experiencing a brief loss power on Lap 20 as he battled Sainz for third.
Further back, Norris endured a slow pit-stop which left him stuck at the back of a DRS train led by Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, Mick Schumacher and Aston Martin’s Vettel.
That mistake from McLaren’s pit crew eventually proved costly on Lap 41 as Norris suddenly spun out following heavy contact with Gasly, who was dawdling as he re-joined the track after running wide at Turn Eight just two laps after contact with Alonso at the first corner.
Gasly consequently retired on Lap 45 with race-ending damage from his two collisions.
Russell meanwhile had worked his way up the order to fifth on the alternative strategy as he started on hard tyres, which paid dividends as the Safety Car was deployed following Norris’ incident which dropped Russell to seventh after he stopped for medium tyres.
The race resumed on Lap 47 as Verstappen fended off the challenge of Leclerc to cling on for his third win of the season, with Sainz completing the podium in third after Perez mistimed a late-braking lunge at Turn One on Lap 52 after having pitted for mediums under the Safety Car.
Russell finished fifth ahead of Hamilton after passing his teammate on Lap 50 with Bottas settling for seventh after he had ran wide in the penultimate corner one lap earlier.
Ocon benefitted from a five-second time penalty for Alonso to finish eighth ahead of his teammate as Alex Albon snatched the final point in tenth.
Schumacher meanwhile ended the race in 15th following a late collision with his fellow German compatriot and mentor, Vettel at Turn One on Lap 54, after the Haas driver had spent much of the race lingering around the final points-paying positions.
F1 now heads to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain for the Spanish Grand Prix between 20-22 May, which marks the home race for Sainz and Alonso.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||57||1h 34m 34.258|
|2||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||57||+ 3.786|
|3||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||57||+ 8.229|
|4||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||57||+ 10.638|
|5||George Russell||Mercedes||57||+ 18.582|
|6||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||57||+ 21.368|
|7||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||57||+ 25.073|
|8||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||57||+ 28.386|
|9||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||57||+ 32.128|
|10||Alex Albon||Williams||57||+ 32.365|
|11||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||57||+ 35.902|
|12||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||57||+ 37.026|
|13||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||57||+ 40.146|
|14||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||57||+ 49.936|
|15||Mick Schumacher||Haas||57||+ 73.305|
|17||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||54||Damage|
|RET||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo||6||Mechanical|