Norris Bests Verstappen For Maiden F-1 Victory


Lando Norris celebrates winning Sunday's Formula One Miami Grand Prix. (McLaren photo)

MIAMI – During the lead-up to the Miami Grand Prix, Lando Norris said emphatically that he believed he would win a race and that he would do so with McLaren.

It turned out that the 24-year-old Englishman was calling his shot.

In his 110th career Formula One grand prix start, Norris drove to an emphatic victory at Miami Int’l Autodrome Sunday, taking the lead off a perfectly timed Safety Car period and then using fresher tires to drive away from Max Verstappen’s Red Bull over the final 25 laps.

With steady pace that outmatched everyone else on the 3.363-mile course, Norris ultimately took the checkered flag 7.612 seconds clear of Verstappen to become the 21st British winner in F-1 history.

It led to raucous approval from the assembled fans and a crowd-surfing celebration for Norris, who jumped into the arms of his elated team and was hoisted in the air before climbing atop the podium.

“About time huh?! What a race,” said Norris. “It’s been a long time coming; at last I've been able to do it for my team and deliver for them. It was a long race, but the whole weekend was good despite some little setbacks along the way.

“I knew on Friday we had the pace [to contend], and today we managed to put it together. We had the perfect strategy,” Norris added. “What can I say about [McLaren]? I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way, but we finally put it all together and this is for them. We’ve stuck together and I believe in them.”

Norris is the 114th driver in the 75-year history of Formula One to win a grand prix event.

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella was equally jubilant for his young star, who showed out after the team brought 10 car upgrades to Florida for the Miami event.

Sunday was McLaren's first grand prix victory since the 2021 Italian Grand Prix at Monza with Daniel Ricciardo.

“This is a day of many firsts,” said Stella, who celebrated his first win as McLaren’s team principal as well. “Most important is the drive put in by Lando, who absolutely deserved this. We always said that he would make it, and he made it today.”

Verstappen dominated the first half of the 57-lap race from the pole position, but made a rare miscue on lap 22 when he clipped a bollard in turn 16 that led to a quick Virtual Safety Car while a marshal retrieved the debris.

The three-time defending F-1 champion pitted two laps later and switched from Pirelli mediums to the hard-compound tires, but Norris stayed out in a move that ultimately won him the race.

Norris was the last driver who had not pitted – and in the lead as a result – when Logan Sargeant and Kevin Magnussen collided and crashed at turn three, with the American’s Williams ending up in the barrier to force the yellow.

That allowed Norris to pit for much fresher hard-compound tires than Verstappen had, without losing any time as the race leader due to the Safety Car. Once he was picked up out front, the stage was set for what looked to be a dramatic duel for the win between Norris and Verstappen.

Racing resumed at full pace on lap 33, with Verstappen sticking to Norris’ rear wing and trying to make a brief move before the McLaren began to flex its muscle and pull away.

It took barely a lap for Norris to get the one-second gap he needed to clear DRS range, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc hassling Verstappen just enough for second to let Norris build some breathing room.

With 20 to go, the gap was 1.9 seconds, and it expanded to more than five seconds by the time the 10-to-go benchmark was reached. At that point, Norris’ win was all but a foregone conclusion.

Verstappen complained of increasing understeer as the laps wound down, unable to get his car to turn well through the corners and as such, unable to mount any challenge against Norris for the win.

As such, the Dutchman had to settle for second, only the second time in the last 13 races that he failed to earn the winner’s trophy at the end of an F-1 grand prix.

It also snapped Verstappen’s six-race F-1 win streak in the United States, as well as his undefeated record on the streets of Miami.

Though Verstappen was understandably disappointed at being unable to win, he was quick to laud Norris for an incredible drive and a maiden grand prix victory.

“You win some, you lose some. We are all used to that in racing,” noted Verstappen. “This race was just tricky; even on the mediums we weren’t pulling away. Once [the McLarens] switched onto the hard tire, they were flying. If a bad day is [second], I’ll take it.

“I'm happy for Lando; it’s been a long time coming and it’s not going to be his last [win]. He deserves it.”

Leclerc filled out the podium, followed by Carlos Sainz in the sister Ferrari and Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez.

Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton was sixth for Mercedes, with Visa CashApp RB’s Yuki Tsunoda seventh over George Russell in the second Mercedes.

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon closed the points-scoring drivers in the top 10.

Norris’ McLaren teammate, Australian Oscar Piastri, moved from sixth to second in an opening-lap scramble and hounded Verstappen early.

However, his race unraveled after contact with Sainz on lap 40 in a battle for fourth, which left Piastri with a damaged front wing and forced an extra pit stop for repairs.

The 23-year-old made up some ground, setting the fastest lap of the race at 1:30.634, but finished 13th.

Sunday’s race was run in one hour, 30 minutes, 49.876 seconds at an average speed of 126.624 mph.

The Formula One grid will get a week off to reset before heading to Imola for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Verstappen has won the last two F-1 races held at the track, going back-to-back in 2021 and 2022.

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About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.