Max Verstappen says the decision to start the Miami Grand Prix on the hard tyre compound was key to his victory from ninth on the grid.
Despite starting eight places behind his pole-winner team mate, Verstappen rose to the front of the field to claim his third grand prix victory of the season. He made his way up to second place with little difficulty over the opening 15 laps, then quickly closed on his race-leading team mate.
Sergio Perez pitted once Verstappen threatened to get within striking distance. Verstappen extended his first stint on hard tyres until lap 46, and had built up enough of a gap over Perez he rejoined the track with his team mate in sight.
Verstappen quickly attacked in the DRS zones and reclaimed the lead as lap 48 began. From there he was untroubled as he pressed on to clinch victory, repeating the triumph he scored at the Miami International Autodrome 12 months ago.
“It was a good race,” said Verstappen. “I stayed out of trouble at the beginning and then just had a clean race, picked the cars off one by one.”
While Verstappen started the race on the hard tyres, Perez had to pit early on to replace his medium rubber. “I could stay out really long on the hard tyres and that’s where we I think made the difference today,” said Verstappen.
After emerging from the pits behind his team mate, Verstappen was easily able to pass him through the three DRS zones around the circuit.
“[It was] a good little battle with Checo at the end, we all kept it clean, that’s most important and great win today,” said Verstappen.
The Red Bull driver looked in strong shape throughout practice and the first two stages of qualifying. However a mistake in Q3, following by a red flag caused by Charles Leclerc, left him a lowly ninth on the grid.
“Yesterday was of course a bit of a setback,” Verstappen admitted. “But today we just kept it calm, kept it clean and for sure winning a race from P9 is always very satisfying.”
The team began considering whether to start the race on hard tyres yesterday, and stuck with the decision after overnight rain reset the track conditions. “We didn’t know what the weather would do,” said Verstappen, “but we were quite confident that this would pay off and luckily it did today.”
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