‘Leclerc immediately cracked under pressure from Max’

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc looking at Max Verstappen celebrating. Miami May 2022

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc looking at Max Verstappen celebrating his race win. Miami May 2022

Passing both Ferraris on pace alone, Jolyon Palmer says Ferrari should be worried after Max Verstappen’s Miami Grand Prix win.

The Red Bull driver had to come from behind to win at the Miami International Autodrome, the Dutchman starting P3 behind both Ferraris.

He made short work of Carlos Sainz, passing him at Turn 2 in a move in which Palmer has questioned whether the Spaniard should have done more to keep Verstappen behind him.

He wrote in his latest F1.com column: “The worry for Ferrari at the moment though must be the manner with which Verstappen is able to beat them, even when he starts behind both cars, and on a Miami circuit which the majority of the other drivers found tricky to overtake on without a significant tyre offset.

“Verstappen didn’t rely on team tactics or strategy for the win either, he outmuscled Sainz at the first corner to immediately split the Ferraris. Sainz was a bit hampered by his inside line and being boxed in by Leclerc at the apex, but could he have been a bit more aggressive in squeezing Verstappen before the braking zone?

“This move was essential for Verstappen’s win. A front row lock out is such a dangerous advantage for a team because it gives them the strategic options to cover off the nearest threat in the pit stop phase.”

With Sainz out of the way, Verstappen set about drawing closer to Leclerc and, on lap 9, he made his move through Turn 1 to take the lead.

Palmer reckons Leclerc’s defending was even worse than Sainz’s.

“At the end of Lap 8 Verstappen was within DRS range of Leclerc, in a Red Bull that is quick on the straights, the pressure was beginning to mount on Leclerc who was just showing signs of struggling with his front tyres,” he said.

“Leclerc immediately cracked, running wide at Turn 17 as soon as Verstappen loomed large in the Ferrari’s mirrors. This gave the Dutchman a brilliant opportunity to pass, which became a slam dunk when Leclerc gifted Verstappen the inside line into Turn 1.

“Passes for the race lead don’t come much easier than that, particularly against a driver who is almost certainly Leclerc’s main title rival.”

Leclerc was given an opportunity later in the race to try regain the lead, the field bunched up behind the Safety Car after Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly crashed.

The Ferrari driver wasn’t able to seize the chance, Verstappen getting a good start to race his way to his second win in succession.

That meant he closed the gap to Leclerc in the Drivers’ Championship to just 19 points.

“After all the drama of his Hamilton title fight in 2021, Verstappen must be appreciating this fight so far,” said Palmer, “with both drivers being extremely respectful of one another, but Leclerc in Miami was surely too generous.


“Maybe he was hoping to get the DRS on the long straights next lap, but unlike in Bahrain or Jeddah where that tactic worked, the next DRS wasn’t on the corner exit – but seven turns later, Verstappen could break clear, and did.”


Verstappen showing he's the one to beat - Miami GP Conclusions

With Red Bull having sorted out the reliability issues that plagued them for the first three races of the season, Max Verstappen is now proving he is the guy at the top and the one to beat, and did so with an emphatic drive at the Miami Grand Prix.