Verstappen bats away boos with 'simply lovely' Miami GP win: F1 race report


From ninth on the grid to victory: Max Verstappen won the 2023 Miami Grand Prix in impressive fashion, leaving polesitter Sergio Perez in his wheeltracks. But some in the crowd were vocal in their dismay at another race of dominance from the defending champion

Max Verstappen with winenrs medla from 2023 Miami GP

Red Bull

Booed by some beforehand, booed by some afterwards, but Max Verstappen delivered another masterclass in Miami to respond to Sergio Perez’s latest challenge.

Saturday had set the race up superbly, with Perez on pole position and with a golden opportunity to take the championship lead for the first time in his career, sitting six points behind Verstappen who would start ninth.

Amid high anticipation, the sell-out crowd for Miami’s second edition were treated to an additional introduction period on the grid that saw each driver presented in reverse championship order, and there were audible boos for Verstappen.

Not that such a response would ever shake his confidence, but the Dutchman did drop a spot off the line starting on hard tyres, as he opted for a cautious approach before quickly making progress.

Sergio Perez leads at the start of the 2023 Miami GP

Perez leads off the line; Verstappen stays out of trouble on the outside

Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Max Verstappen is introduced to the crowd ahead of the 2023 Miami GP

Boos from some of the crowd as Verstappen is introduced pre-race

Red Bull

Perhaps he was expecting chaos with a mixed-up grid, but after Kevin Magnussen dropped from fourth to sixth off the line the only points of note were Nyck de Vries punting Lando Norris wide and Logan Sargeant picking up front wing damage and needed to make a pitstop. There was little for Verstappen to benefit from.

“I was just really staying out of trouble in the beginning because the people around me try to gain positions as quickly as possible on lap one but knowing that you have a quick car once it all settles down you just try to pick them off one-by-one,” Verstappen said. “That worked out quite well, I had even a three-wide on the straight which was quite entertaining!”

The three-wide moment demonstrated one of Red Bull’s strengths in such situations, as he used DRS on the squabbling Magnussen and Charles Leclerc to get down the inside before Turn 1 starting Lap 4, promoting him to sixth.


Leclerc loses out as Verstappen and Magnussen power past

Grand Prix Photo

Next up was George Russell, but any hangover from Baku was easily avoided as Verstappen pulled an impressive late move on the brakes into the Turn 17 hairpin on lap eight, doing the same to Pierre Gasly a lap later as Russell followed the Red Bull through.

Even with all of that action while Perez led Fernando Alonso at the front, Verstappen was still within five seconds of the lead as the medium-tyre runners tried to nurse their softer rubber.

“It started well but very early on I saw that the medium was very fragile initially, so I had to protect the tyre quite a lot just to make lap 15 or so, so it was really hard to lean on that tyre,” Perez said. “Basically the whole right hand side was really difficult and I could see that Max was closing up on the hards and from that point on I knew the race was looking difficult.”

Related article

Red Bull’s DRS advantage saw Verstappen clear Carlos Sainz and Alonso on consecutive laps into Turn 11 to run second by the end of Lap 15, and Perez’s fears were well-founded. Verstappen closed in as the leader extended his first stint to Lap 20, with only Alonso the only frontrunner to go longer.

That decision from Aston Martin was perhaps influenced by Sainz getting right up behind his countryman before diving into the pits, locking up heavily as he looked for the undercut but carrying too much speed and picking up a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

With Perez switching to hards, Verstappen had clear track and a tyre that was proving consistent to put in impressive lap times, regularly lowering the benchmark that others were trying to chase. Similar approaches were being taken by Esteban Ocon and Lewis Hamilton, with the latter – trying to recover from 13th – letting his team-mate through shortly after halfway due to split strategies.

Russell showed it was a favour well-served as he impressively got Sainz on the brakes into Turn 11 to take fourth, while Hamilton then fought a former team-mate much harder. Having made his pit stop on Lap 35, two laps later Hamilton came up behind Valtteri Bottas and got him out of Turn 17 in a crucial move as Ocon had just made his pit stop and rejoined between the two.

With 12 laps remaining, the ebb and flow of Verstappen and Perez’s race came to a head. Verstappen had almost pulled out a pitstop’s advantage but his 3.1sec stop ultimately cemented the fact it hadn’t quite been enough, so he needed to get the final move done on track.

George Russell ahead of Lewis Hamilton in 2023 Miami GP

Hamilton moved over for Russell as Mercedes split strategies

Jiri Krenek/Mercedes

Max Verstappen leads the Miami GP pitlane with medium tyres

Verstappen heads out to hunt down Perez on fresh mediums

Red Bull

Emerging within two seconds, Verstappen took just one lap to be in DRS range and attacked towards Turn 17, with Perez defending the inside line and holding on initially. Verstappen had another go towards Turn 1 though, and while Perez again made him go the long way round – trying to outbrake his team-mate – it was a fruitless exercise as Verstappen swept into the lead on the exit.

“I call that simply f*****g lovely,” was his immediate response over the radio after taking victory.

Aftet the race, he elaborated further: “We had good pace, I could look after my tyres and then once I was in clean air it was about getting to that lap number we targeted, that’s why maybe in the middle of that stint I was not entirely sure if I was going to make it, but then as soon as I was getting close to that number I was like ‘OK this is good’.

“So then I started pushing and could extend the gap again, which really made my race today I think. Because once we pitted then of course I had the fresher tyres to the end but also the tyres which were a bit more fragile today.

“I had a good battle with Checo. We were free to race which was said before, and we had a good go at it. Of course most important is that we don’t touch but that all worked out really well.”


Verstappen moves to take the lead

Florent Gooden / DPPI

From Perez’s point of view, as much as he wanted the victory that would have taken him into the championship lead he toed the line between risk and reward against the sister Red Bull.

“Obviously at the end of the day we have to put the team ahead of us,” Perez said. “We are two drivers but there are so many people back home working really hard, so we have to stay respectful and at the end we had a really good fight between us and a bit more would have been contact, and I don’t think that would have been fair for any of us. Only for Fernando.”

Alonso was a distant third ahead of Russell, with Sainz similarly unable to challenge from fifth. But there was more late action in the fight for sixth as Leclerc forced Gasly into a mistake at Turn 1. That allowed Hamilton a run on the Alpine to clear him within a lap, and then with just over two to go he wedged his car between the wall and Leclerc’s Ferrari to cap a solid recovery drive.

“It was mega,” Hamilton said. “It was really great to have pace, see the cars up ahead and seeing the progress, knowing that I’ll be battling with people. I had a couple of great overtakes as well. That’s what I live for.”

Demoted to eighth late on saw Gasly end up where Alpine’s pace ultimately suggested, with Ocon backing him up in ninth and Kevin Magnussen holding onto tenth. It was a result that earned him the final point despite Yuki Tsunoda threatening to close him down after another strong drive from the AlphaTauri driver that was highlighted by a great move on Bottas at Turn 17.


Alonso delighted to be best of the rest again, behind the Red Bulls

Mark Thompson/Getty Images

There was ultimately no reward for Tsunoda but as the top three headed for the podium, Verstappen was subject to a little more hostility from those not wanting to see him run away with the title.

“I think if I would be driving in the back nobody would do anything in terms of reaction,” Verstappen said. “It’s normal when you are winning and they don’t like who is winning. It’s something for me that is absolutely fine. As long as I stand on the top that is the most important. I take the trophy home and they go back to their houses and they can have a nice evening.”

It’s a trophy the Dutchman fully earned, because this time Perez had no response to him.


2023 Miami Grand Prix race results

Position Driver Team Time Points
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 57 laps 26*
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull +5.384sec 18
3 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +26.305sec 15
4 George Russell Mercedes +33.229sec 12
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +42.511sec** 10
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +51.249sec 8
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +52.988sec 6
8 Pierre Gasly Alpine +55.670sec 4
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine +58.123sec 2
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas +1min 02.945sec 1
11 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +1min 04.309sec 0
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +1min 04.754sec 0
13 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +1min 11.637sec 0
14 Alex Albon Williams +1min 12.861sec 0
15 Nico Hülkenberg Haas +1min 14.950sec 0
16 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1min 18.440sec 0
17 Lando Norris McLaren 1min 27.717sec 0
18 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri 1min 28.949sec 0
19 Oscar Piastri McLaren +1 lap 0
20 Logan Sargeant Williams +1 lap 0

*Includes point for fastest lap
**Includes 5sec penalty