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Norris beats Verstappen in Miami for first F1 win

6 May 2024 10:46 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


May 6 (BBC) - McLaren’s Lando Norris beat Red Bull’s Max Verstappen with help from the safety car to take his maiden Formula 1 victory at the Miami Grand Prix.

Norris jumped to the front because he was able to make his pit stop when a safety car was deployed at about half distance while others had already stopped.

Verstappen was unable to keep pace with Norris when the race restarted with 27 laps to go, and the Briton stretched ahead, while the world champion had to settle for second ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

"About time, huh?" Norris, 24, said after victory in his 110th grand prix.

“The whole weekend has been good. I’ve had a few setbacks along the way. I knew on Friday we had the pace and just a couple of mistakes here and there but today we managed to put it together, we put the perfect strategy, it all paid off."

In addition to a bit of luck and timing, Norris’ victory was based on genuine pace - he was the quickest car on track once he was released from behind the struggling Red Bull of Sergio Perez when the Mexican made an early pit stop for tyres on lap 17.

From then until the safety car for a collision between Williams’ Logan Sargeant and Haas driver Kevin Magnussen at Turn Three, Norris turned on the pace and set the foundations for his win.

The fact that this was not the usual cruise to victory for Verstappen was obvious when he missed the chicane on lap 21 and displaced a bollard. Red Bull said after the race it had damaged his floor and cost performance.

The virtual safety car had to be deployed for half a lap to clear the debris from the track. Verstappen pitted two laps later, and rejoined 10 seconds behind Norris.

But despite having fresher tyres, Verstappen did not close on Norris - in fact the McLaren started to pull away.

And when the safety car was deployed Norris had a sufficient advantage to pit and come out still in the lead.

There was a bit of confusion when the safety car picked up Verstappen rather than Norris and the field had to be let past to run around and catch up behind Norris, but now it came down to a straight fight between the McLaren and the Red Bull.

Usually, Verstappen would have been expected to pass Norris, and the Briton made it difficult for himself with a nervy restart which gave Verstappen the chance to think about a pass at Turn One.

But the combination of the pace of the upgraded McLaren and Verstappen struggling with a lack of front grip meant Norris was able to stretch away, turning the tables on Verstappen, on whom Norris inflicted the pain the Dutchman usually does on the rest of the field.

In doing so, and winning by nearly eight seconds, he became the first driver to beat Verstappen on track when he had finished the race since Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in Singapore in September last year.

Behind them, Leclerc drove a strong race to stay within two seconds of Verstappen despite making his pit stop for tyres four laps before the Red Bull driver.

His team-mate Carlos Sainz finished fourth on the track, but lost that place after being penalised for colliding with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri when passing the Australian with 17 laps to go.

Sainz had been angered by Piastri forcing him off the track when he passed the Ferrari at Turn 11 a few laps earlier, after which Sainz complained vociferously on the radio that he should be given the place back. But the stewards did not agree and felt Piastri had done nothing wrong.

The collision wrecked Piastri’s front wing and he had to stop for it to be replaced. Sainz managed to get away with minimal damage but after the race the stewards penalised him five seconds, dropping him to fifth behind Perez.

Lewis Hamilton had an eventful race in his Mercedes, battling first with Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas and then Yuki Tsunoda’s RB to take sixth, just a second behind Perez, ahead of the Japanese and the second Mercedes of George Russell.

And Fernando Alonso recovered from a poor qualifying in the Aston Martin - the Spaniard started only 15th - to take ninth place, passing the Alpine of Esteban Ocon, who took the final point for 10th place.

  • When is the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix?

Round seven of the Formula 1 season heads to Italy and the legendary Imola circuit, from 17-19 May.

The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was added to the shortened calendar during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and was intended as a "one-off" event. It returned again in 2021 and 2022 but last year, the race weekend had to be cancelled because of major flooding in the region.

With 2024 marking 30 years since the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and three-time world champion Ayrton Senna during the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, tributes are expected to take place across the three days.

On race day, four-time F1 title winner Sebastian Vettel will be taking to the track to drive Senna's McLaren MP4/8 from 1993.

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