Formula 1 Racing

Verstappen’s pursuers must escape DRS trains to gain ground in Miami · RaceFans

Sprint race start, Miami International Autodrome, 2024

Max Verstappen managed to rise from ninth on the grid in last year’s Miami Grand Prix to take one of his most impressive wins of 2023.

This year, he has given himself the best possibility of repeating that feat by securing pole position for the sixth time in as many races at the start of the championship.

Fresh from his cruise to victory in Saturday’s sprint race few would bet against Verstappen chalking up another win today. But his margin of victory over second-placed Charles Leclerc was far closer than the last sprint round in Shanghai.

While Ferrari will be looking to put the championship leader under pressure over a full grand prix distance, there will also be plenty of intrigue back in the pack as several teams are set to fight over the lower points positions.


Drivers had near-identical conditions in both of Saturday’s sessions, with both the sprint race and qualifying taking place in ambient temperatures of 28C and the track temperature around 45-47C. Current forecasts for Sunday suggest that drivers can expect much of the same for the grand prix, which will start at the same time as qualifying at 4pm.

One difference between the sprint race and qualifying was the wind speed, which picked up significantly in the early evening – from around 7kph during the sprint race to 15kph by Q3. A southernly wind runs across the two longest straights on the circuit, but will produce a tailwind out of the final corner on the run to turn one. That could alter the effectiveness of the opening DRS zone, which has proven to be one of the more popular overtaking spots on the circuit.

“Every lap is a bit of an adventure with the wind,” said Carlos Sainz Jnr after qualifying. “You don’t know what’s going to happen.”


Short run to turn one thwarted Leclerc’s strong start in sprint race

For the second time in 24 hours, Verstappen will have Leclerc alongside him to the inside on the front row of the grid looking to beat him to the first corner. Although the Red Bull driver held his position off the line in Saturday’s sprint race, Leclerc got a superior launch and almost had his front wheels alongside the Red Bull’s rear wheels by the time they slammed on the brakes for turn one. Had this been almost anywhere other than Miami, which has one of the shortest runs to turn one seen all year, Verstappen could have lost his grip on the lead in this moment.

Leclerc admitted he could have forced the issue more into turn one in the sprint race but did…

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