Miami GP: Verstappen wins from ninth on grid

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Max Verstappen came through the field to win Sunday's F1 Miami Grand Prix and inflict a psychological blow on teammate and likely title rival Sergio Perez.

Verstappen started only ninth on the grid after a red flag meant he couldn't complete his final qualifying lap, while Perez looked the heavy favorite to take victory after lining up on pole position.

However, starting on Hard tires, Verstappen made quick work of the rest of the pack, and by Lap 15 he was up to second behind Perez, who had only pulled out a 3.5 seconds lead on his Medium compound rubber.

Perez then pitted on Lap 19 to fit Hard tires, allowing Verstappen through into the lead. But despite being on much fresher tires, the Mexican was unable to make significant inroads into Verstappen's lead, and the Dutchman was still 18 seconds ahead of Perez when he finally made his own pit stop on Lap 45.

Emerging just 1.6 seconds behind Perez, Verstappen was quickly on the Mexican's tail and breezed past his teammate on Lap 47 to take a lead he would hold to the flag.

"I just had a clean race and picked the cars off one by one," said Verstappen, who also picked up the bonus point for fastest lap.

"I stayed out really long on the hard tires and I think that's what made the difference and then a good little battle with Checo at the end.

"Yesterday was of course a bit of a setback, but today we kept it calm, kept it clean and winning a race from P9 is very satisfying."

Perez crossed the line second for Red Bull's fourth 1-2 finish in five races so far in 2023, but the Mexican rued his inability to seriously challenge Verstappen for the win.

"I tried. I gave it my all. We had graining and initial pace wasn't good," said Perez.

"The Medium [tire] we had initially was poor, more than expected. It really compromised our pace and Max had tremendous pace on the Hard and we will analyse what went wrong today because we simply didn't have the pace."

Behind the Red Bull pair, Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso continued his good form with his fourth third-place finish of 2023.

George Russell took fourth for Mercedes, ahead of Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, who was slapped with a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

Russell's teammate Lewis Hamilton finished sixth, ahead of a disappointing Charles Leclerc in the second Ferrari.

The Alpines of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon took eighth and ninth on a better weekend for the French outfit, with Kevin Magnussen rounding out the top ten in his Haas.

For only the 14th time in F1 history, there were no retirements, with all 20 cars seeing the chequered flag.

Verstappen's win sees him extend his lead at the top of the Drivers' Championship, and he now has 119 points. Perez remains second with 105, and Alonso is third with 75 points.

In the Constructors' Championship, Red Bull are way out in front with 224 points, Aston Martin are second with 102, and Mercedes are third on 96 points.

The next round of the 2023 F1 season is the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at the Imola Circuit.

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