Miami Grand Prix: Lando Norris ends long wait for first F1 win after Max Verstappen ‘disaster’

Jamie Woodhouse
Lando Norris celebrates his pole position in Sprint qualifying

Lando Norris celebrates pole position

The wait is over! At long last, Lando Norris can call himself a Grand Prix winner as he claimed an impressive victory in Miami. 

While Max Verstappen had not enjoyed his usual level of comfort, it was the perfect Safety Car timing which opened the door for Norris to snatch the lead, as he ditched Verstappen from there to deliver on his prophecy that a 2024 victory was coming. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc would complete the podium.

Say hello to your new Formula 1 Grand Prix winner, Lando Norris

Lewis Hamilton, on the hard tyres, was the only driver in the top 14 not to start on mediums. According to Pirelli, that hard compound could last the entire Grand Prix. Of course, a pit stop is mandatory.

Sauber’s Valtteri Bottas went down a completely different route by starting on the soft tyre from his P16 grid slot.

It was all eyes to the front though as polesitter Verstappen secured the lead, with a rapid Sergio Perez narrowly avoiding wiping out his Red Bull team-mate at the Turn 1 braking zone. With Leclerc in P2, McLaren’s Oscar Piastri nailed the start to improve to P3.

Nico Hulkenberg meanwhile got his elbows out against Hamilton who was trying to get the hard tyres up to temperature, dropping the Mercedes driver back down to his P8 starting position.

Piastri soon fancied P2 for himself, slipping down the inside of Leclerc at Turn 17 on the fifth lap, as he showed that the McLaren sporting half of the Miami upgrades was working very well indeed in these early stages.

“Nearly just had a big crash,” Hamilton declared over the radio as he engaged in a fresh on-the-edge battle with a Haas, passing Hulkenberg before a lock-up at Turn 17 let Hulkenberg back through. After his scrap with the penalty-collecting Kevin Magnussen yesterday, Hamilton was surely sick of the sight of a Haas.

After completing his second pass on Hulkenberg down at Turn 11, Hamilton set about trying to escape up the road with George Russell in the other Mercedes now on Hulkenberg’s rear wing, Russell completing the pass a few laps later on Lap 13 as Hulkenberg then dived into the pit lane for hard tyres.

By Lap 15, Verstappen’s advantage over Piastri was sitting at just under three seconds, Red Bull urging Verstappen to pick up the pace with his trademark disappear into the distance not materialising at this stage. Piastri was under pressure himself from Leclerc, while Norris was emphasising McLaren’s race pace as he harried Perez for P5.

Perez pitting on Lap 18 to take on a set of hard tyres released Norris to go for the overcut, though McLaren were urging him to go after Sainz, a request which Norris happily backed.

Leclerc made his stop for the hard tyres on Lap 20, a rapid 1.9-second service from Ferrari giving their driver the perfect boost.

Verstappen meanwhile made an uncharacteristic error as he got the Turn 14/15 chicane all wrong, dislodging a bollard and luring out the Virtual Safety Car while a marshal retrieved the hazard, the track soon returning to green. Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon and Magnussen were the drivers to pit under the VSC.

And on the following lap, the 24th of the race, in came Verstappen for the hard tyres.

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On Lap 28 it was the turn of Piastri and Sainz to pit, but soon the race took a major twist as Magnussen and Sargeant collided through Turn 3, eliminating Sargeant and bringing out the Safety Car.

Perez pitted again, but crucially, Norris got his cheap pit stop in, pitting from the lead and coming back out in P1 with the hard tyres, meaning Verstappen had a key overtake to do.

Magnussen meanwhile received a fresh 10-second penalty to add to his collection for causing that Sargeant shunt.

On Lap 32 of 57, the Safety Car returned to the pit lane, Verstappen already attempting a move at Turn 1, but there was no way past Norris, with Leclerc, Piastri and Sainz completing the top five, Sainz complaining that Piastri had pushed him off the track at Turn 11 as they went to battle over P4. The stewards did not agree, at first anyway, as they then decided to investigate after all following the race.

Considering Verstappen’s dominance of this F1 era, pessimism was understandable over Norris’ chances to keep him behind, but instead, the McLaren driver was building the gap up to three seconds, Verstappen’s outburst of “I can’t get the car to turn, it’s a disaster” serving as music to Norris’ ears.

Piastri and Sainz were soon at it again, Sainz locking-up at Turn 17 and tagging Piastri before completing the move at Turn 1, Piastri picking up front wing damage in the exchange as Perez and Hamilton came through, McLaren calling him in to the pits to replace that front wing and take on some medium tyres, a great shame for the Aussie.

Sainz was also complaining that his Ferrari was not right as he asked his team to “check the downforce”.

It proved to be a comfortable P4 finish for Sainz, but the true story ahead was Norris, who for the first time in Formula 1, became a Grand Prix winner here in Miami!

Verstappen was forced to make do with the second step on the podium, as Leclerc completed the top three.

2024 Miami Grand Prix classification

1 Lando NORRIS McLaren 1:30:49.876 57 laps
2 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing +7.612
3 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +9.920
4 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +11.407
5 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +14.650
6 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +16.585
7 Yuki TSUNODA RB +26.185
8 George RUSSELL Mercedes +34.789
9 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +37.107
10 Esteban OCON Alpine +39.746
11 Nico HULKENBERG Haas F1 Team +40.789
12 Pierre GASLY Alpine +44.958
13 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +49.756
14 Guanyu ZHOU Kick Sauber +49.979
15 Daniel RICCIARDO RB +50.956
16 Valtteri BOTTAS Kick Sauber +52.356
17 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +55.173
18 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team +64.683
19 Alexander ALBON Williams +76.091
20 Logan SARGEANT Williams DNF

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