The weird secret to beating Max Verstappen discovered after latest defeat in Miami

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull's Max Verstappen with his hand to his face.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen.

Sky F1 commentator David Croft joked suffering some form of medical situation seems to be the only way a driver can rise to topple Max Verstappen.

While not enjoying his usual level of dominance in Miami, it appeared as though Verstappen had just enough pace to avoid being challenged and claim a fifth win of the season. However, all of that changed when the Safety Car was deployed following a shunt involving Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargeant.

‘Some operation or injury’ the way to beat Max Verstappen?

With Norris yet to pit at that point, he was able to box and come out still in the lead, pulling away from Verstappen upon the restart and becoming a Grand Prix winner for the first time.

Norris – who suffered a glass-inflicted wound on his nose ahead of the Miami Grand Prix – becomes the second driver to defeat Verstappen in F1 2024, following Carlos Sainz’s triumph in Australia in his sensational return after undergoing appendix surgery. So, is “some sort of injury or operation” they key to stopping F1’s dominant Dutchman?

“We realise now the secret to beating Max Verstappen, remove an appendix, do an injury to your nose, some sort of operation or injury is the way now to beat Max Verstappen in Formula 1,” said Croft with a smile.

“There’s going to be drivers going, ‘Oh, I’ve got a bit of a sore arm, I’m limping a little bit’, it’s back in the days of Nigel Mansell.”

The Miami GP also featured a rare error from Verstappen, who dislodged a bollard after getting the Turn 14/15 chicane all wrong, with Croft’s co-commentator Martin Brundle saying this showed how hard Verstappen was having to push with Norris, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and earlier in the race Norris’ McLaren team-mate Oscar Piastri applying the pressure.

“Interesting that Max Verstappen made the mistake in the chicane, isn’t it?” Brundle pointed out. “He hit the bollard.

“Because it shows you how hard he was pushing, because McLaren had the pace and Ferrari weren’t too far behind either.”

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It would appear that Norris and McLaren may have been given a helping hand via floor damage for Verstappen inflicted by that chicane error, though Croft does not believe that fully accounted for Norris’ pace advantage in his race win-securing final stint.

“Speaking to Red Bull, I think Max did pick up a bit of damage to the floor when he went over that bollard, a couple of tenths a lap,” said Croft.

“But, I still think McLaren had more pace than that towards the end.

“And speaking to [McLaren team principal] Andrea Stella about the the overall strategy for McLaren, even without the Safety Car, they believe that Lando’s lap times were good enough so that he would be in the game right at the end of the race.

“He did it on fresher tyres and it wasn’t just the Safety Car that earned him that victory.”

Norris’ Miami triumph marked McLaren’s first Grand Prix win since the 2021 Italian GP.

Read next – Miami Grand Prix conclusions: McLaren, not Ferrari, are Red Bull’s biggest threat