McLaren's Norris wins Miami Grand Prix for maiden F1 win

McLaren driver beat Verstappen by over seven seconds with Ferrari's Leclerc finishing third

AFP May 06, 2024


McLaren's Lando Norris won the first Formula One race of his career with a shock victory over world champion Max Verstappen in the Miami Grand Prix on Sunday.

Breathing life into an F1 season that risked becoming a one-man story again, Norris, in his 110th race for McLaren, beat Verstappen by over seven seconds with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc finishing third.

Verstappen, who began on pole, had won four of the opening five races of the season and leads the world championship standings.

It looked like business as usual with the Dutchman, who had won the previous two Miami races, leading until lap 24 when he pitted and Norris's McLaren team-mate Oscar Piastri took over the lead.

Australian Piastri himself went into the pits four laps later, allowing Norris to grab the lead and the British driver never looked back.

Crucially, Norris was able to pit during a safety car on lap 30, earning him a valuable time advantage which he never relinquished.

The safety car came after Kevin Magnussen clipped Logan Sargeant, sending the American Williams driver into the wall, bringing a yellow flag.

Norris, who had 15 podiums before his first win, took full advantage of the safety car and with Verstappen struggling to catch up, he secured his maiden victory.

It was the first time Verstappen has been beaten on track, when he finished the race, since Ferrari's Carlos Sainz won in Singapore in September last year.

Norris was hoisted in the air by the McLaren mechanics as his long wait for a victory in the sport came to an end.

"About time huh?" said Norris, "I knew on Friday that we had the we managed to put it together. We had the perfect strategy, it all paid off," he added.

"I guess a lot of people doubted me along the way. I've made a lot of mistakes over the last five years, my short career, but today we pulled it all together, so this is all for the team.

"I stuck with McLaren because I could believe in them and I did believe in them and today proved exactly that," he added.

The nearest Norris had come previously to winning a Grand Prix was in Sochi, Russia in 2021 when he led in the latter stages before failing to make a tyre change early in rain, costing him dearly.

Verstappen, who had complained about lack of grip in qualification and during Sunday's race, said his Red Bull had been unable to keep up with Norris once the McLaren driver switched to hard tyres.

"They just had more pace, Lando was flying. It was incredibly difficult for us, but on the bad days P2, I'll take it right?

"I'm very happy for Lando, its been a long time coming and it's not going to be his last one. He definitely deserves it," said the Dutchman.

Leclerc echoed those sentiments.

"Very often he ran very close it but for one reason or another he didn't make it. But today he did an incredible job and the whole weekend he has been on it," said the Ferrari driver.

Sainz finished fourth with Verstappen's Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez in fifth place but the pair swapped places after stewards imposed a post-race penalty of five seconds on the Spaniard for his collision with Piastri.

Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished sixth and eighth with RB's Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda ending seventh.

As in the first two years of the Miami Grand Prix, held around Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the NFL's Miami Dolphins, the race attracted plenty of celebrities.

Former France international footballer and coach Zinedine Zidane, singer Ed Sheeran, Super Bowl winning quarterback Patrick Mahomes and former US President Donald Trump were among those spotted at the race. Trump visited the McLaren garage before the race.


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