What we learned from the first Miami F1 Grand Prix

  • Max Verstappen won F1’s inaugural inaugural GP in Miami on Sunday, moving from his starting third place to lead.
  • Poleman Charles Leclerc had to settle for second place.
  • Carlos Seinz made it a two-for-three Ferrari podium.

    It was celebrities galore, an entertainment extravaganza but a relatively mediocre sporting contest at Formula 1’s inaugural Miami Grand Prix.
    Max Verstappen edged closer to Charles Leclerc in the championship with a third win in five events, overtaking the title leader early in the race before withstanding the pressure in the final stages after a safety car period.

    Behind them, Carlos Sainz held onto third place ahead of Sergio Perez while Mercedes clawed back fifth and sixth, George Russell ahead of Lewis Hamilton as the young Briton once again took advantage strategically.

    Autoweek summarizes some of the talking points from the Miami Grand Prix.

    A familiar Mercedes trope

      Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes and George Russell of Great Britain and Mercedes speak to the crowd during the opening night of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at Hard Rock Stadium on May 04, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

      Dan Istitène – Formula 1Getty Images

      There was cheering for Mercedes on Friday when George Russell was quickest, but he started the weekend fifth and sixth in the race, firmly third and taking the points he deserved. Russell once again maximized his opportunities, taking advantage of the timing of a safety car to earn fifth place, while Lewis Hamilton was less fortunate but only realistically slipped one position – that of his teammate.

      “This weekend is where we showed the most promise, but we’re still a long way off,” Russell said. Hamilton was a bit more circumspect commenting that “we’re at the same speed as the first race, we haven’t improved in those five races, but hopefully at some point we will, you just have to keep trying.”

      Team boss Toto Wolff repeated a familiar mantra that ‘physics is not mystical so you have to unravel the bones’ of Mercedes’ current situation, but admitted it was getting frustrating to relay the same position.

      “It’s clear there’s potential in the car and it’s fast but…we just don’t understand how to unlock the potential,” Wolff said. “It’s probably a car that’s super hard to drive, on the edge, diving in and out of the performance window – more out than in – and dissecting the data with a scalpel is just a painful process because it takes a very long time. and as a fact, the data sometimes doesn’t show what the drivers are telling us, and they certainly have their hands full with the car The data doesn’t show these big swings [in performance]. We haven’t had this situation for years without there being a correlation between what we see on the screens and what the driver is feeling, which makes it more difficult.

      Mercedes could have many more weekends to consider solid points a positive result, as it is not in the mix to face Ferrari and Red Bull.

      Bottas’ disappointment shows Alfa’s progress

      auto may 08 f1 crypto com miami grand prix
      Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas (77) of Finland during the first race of the Crypto.com Grand Prix of Miami on May 8, 2022 at Miami International Autodrome in Miami Gardens, Florida.

      Sportswire iconGetty Images

      A year ago Alfa Romeo would have jumped to seventh in a Grand Prix, but Valtteri Bottas’ result in Miami left him slightly disappointed says a lot about the team’s progress. While rookie Zhou Guanyu was on early retirement due to a water leak, Bottas continued his role spearheading Alfa Romeo’s 2022 revival following his departure from Mercedes. Bottas pulled away from Hamilton in the first stint as he held a comfortable fifth place, before dropping to seventh after the restart – after being caught out by the bickering Mercedes drivers behind him.

      “George [Russell] had the option to stop for the Medium tires and he was closing in quickly,” Bottas said. “As he passed Lewis [Hamilton] I was kind of following them in the mirrors as they got close enough, if I had to close the door or something, and I braked a fraction too late, missed a whole little bit the top in the corner then i got to the dirty the tarmac and i felt uneasy as i was going so slow, i was understeering, hitting the wall, luckily i didn’t I haven’t broken or punctured anything.

      That mistake left Bottas seventh but his disappointment is testament to Alfa Romeo’s gains. He was a distant ninth last season, but he’s a solid fifth in the standings this year and has scored 31 points, 30 through Bottas.

      “The race pace was very close to Mercedes I think, so that’s good to see,” he said. “It was a race with no DNF coming up, so to fight for fifth position with this car is nice to see.”

      Team boss Frederic Vasseur added that “it shows how far we have come this year that we are actually a bit disappointed with P7 – which is a very good result in itself. We were really strong today and rode most of the race comfortably in P5, just behind both Red Bull and Ferrari.

      Albon’s lucky red hair?

      miami f1 grand prix qualifying
      18th qualifier Alexander Albon of Thailand and Williams walk down the pit lane during qualifying ahead of the Miami F1 Grand Prix at Miami International Autodrome on May 07, 2022 in Miami, Florida.

      Mark ThompsonGetty Images

      Alexander Albon caught the eye in Australia when he arrived with red hair. It wasn’t a bold fashion statement, just that during construction he had visited an orphanage in Thailand and the kids there had put red dye in his hair, and Albon was into antics. He then went to score a point in the race. It largely faded in time for Imola, but before the race in Miami Albon had it professionally dyed – and he left the weekend with his second point of the season after finishing in the top 10. Albon showed encouraging pace throughout practice but disappointing qualifying left him just 18and, but he stayed out of trouble and maxed out the strategy to score a point on the sly. That became two when Fernando Alonso received a post-race penalty.

      “Super happy,” Albon said. “If you look at the whole weekend, it’s less surprising than Melbourne, we were in the top 10 in two tries, we were there, at pure pace. To get 10th place is where we should have been all weekend, we were lucky with a few bumps but we were right behind them, I’m happy. It was a really strong weekend for us, the anomaly was qualifying, we have to understand where to recover the performance.

      Albon has ensured Williams hasn’t missed out on George Russell’s presence this year and it’s also hugely positive for Formula 1 that all 10 teams are in contention for regular points.

      Please let us watch the action

      auto may 08 f1 crypto com miami grand prix
      A general view of the MIA Marina fan areas prior to the CRYPTO.COM Formula 1 Grand Prix of Miami on May 8, 2022 at Miami International Autodrome in Miami Gardens, Florida.

      Sportswire iconGetty Images

      Formula 1 is obviously not just a race and that was evident in Miami with the plethora of sports stars in attendance throughout the weekend. And naturally TV cameras gravitate towards that during construction, or even after, to take advantage of the showbiz element. But damn it, please let us watch the Grand Prix. When Max Verstappen passed Charles Leclerc at the start, a replay was immediately shown – despite the action being broadcast live – and that meant we missed what Leclerc was up to. He came very close to hitting back down the backstretch, but replays kept us from watching that live. There were also several shots of the crowd at the expense of the action, and cutaways of celebrities or guests watching from their exclusive vantage points. Did we need to see David Beckham’s uninteresting reaction to Lando Norris’ accident? Was there an advantage to watching will.i.am without really wanting to dialogue with the cameraman? Miami was obviously an influencer race, with an impressive guest list, and of course, show it. Advertise it. This can help the growth of the sport among casual or previously insensitive fans. But do it before and after the race. When there’s a grand prize, let us watch all 20 guys do their thing. This is what racing fans want to watch. It’s such a simple thing not to mess up.

      Miami F1 Grand Prix Results

      1. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 57 laps
      2. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, +3.7 seconds
      3. Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari, +8.2
      4. Sergio Perez, Red Bull, +10.6
      5. George Russell, Mercedes, +18.5
      6. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, +21.3
      7. Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo, +25.0
      8. Esteban Ocon, Alpine, +28.3
      9. Fernando Alonso, Alpine, +32.1
      10. Alexander Albon, Williams, +32.3
      11. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, +37.0
      12. Yuki Tsunoda, Alpha Tauri, +40.1
      13. Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, +40.9
      14. Nicholas Latifi, Williams, +49.9
      15. Mick Schumacher, Haas, +1:13.3
      16. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, +1 lap
      17. Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, +3 laps
      18. Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, +12 laps
      19. Lando Norris, McLaren, +18 laps
      20. Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo, +51 laps

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