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Verstappen is just on another league



Miami Grand Prix 2023 max verstappen

Starting in ninth place, Max Verstappen seemed like an unlikely contender for victory at the Miami Grand Prix. Yet, as his Red Bull teammate and championship rival Sergio Perez enjoyed pole position, Verstappen displayed his true racing prowess.

Max Verstappen began the Miami Grand Prix in ninth place, while his Red Bull teammate and championship competitor Sergio Perez held pole position, coming off two consecutive wins in Azerbaijan.

Despite this, Verstappen found himself in second place by the 15th lap of the 57-lap race and ultimately secured a fairly routine victory over Perez.

Miami Grand Prix 2023 max verstappen

Does this hint at a true title battle that emerged following Baku already fading away, or was it never truly genuine to begin with? Does the Miami race provide the most evident sign yet that Verstappen will dominate the season as he wishes?

Claiming that it’s too simple for Verstappen is somewhat unjust. While the combination of the top car and Verstappen is hard to beat, one must not overlook his role in making it appear so effortless.

Verstappen quickly and efficiently moved up to second place, avoiding significant risks while not getting stuck longer than necessary. A delay of four or five seconds in this phase could have made his path to victory more challenging.

Additionally, he exceeded Red Bull’s expectations with his pace during the second half of his hard-tire stint, which can be attributed to both his superior underlying speed in Miami compared to Perez’s and his exceptional tire management.


Verstappen’s journey to victory may have seemed easy, but it was his relentless pursuit of excellence and skill behind the wheel that made it so.

Miami Grand Prix 2023 max verstappen

Outstanding drivers often make the extraordinary appear ordinary, and just because stronger competition from Mercedes, Ferrari, and Aston Martin would pose a greater challenge, it doesn’t mean it’s being handed to him effortlessly.

Perez was the only benchmark, and apart from Verstappen’s first Q3 run, when he made an error, Verstappen held a decisive advantage over Perez throughout the weekend, emphasizing his contribution.

It speaks volumes about Verstappen’s dominance that his ascent to second place behind Perez during the initial laps took longer than anticipated.

This was primarily due to losing some ground in the first part of the opening lap. However, with the car advantage he possessed, he could afford to be cautious among the pack and wait for the situation to stabilize before overtaking each competitor.

In the cool-down room post-race, there seemed to be a conversation between Verstappen and Fernando Alonso that involved Alonso’s prediction about when Verstappen would catch the Aston Martin. A mention of lap 25 by one of them indicated an overly cautious estimate.

Regardless, it was enjoyable to witness overtaking maneuvers, even straightforward ones, rather than the two Red Bulls leading the race from the first lap.


Ultimately, Perez put up a commendable defense, but his lack of pace hindered his efforts. With eight cars separating them on the grid and the car he had, Perez should not have been caught and passed if he aimed to be a title contender and viewed himself as a consistent threat to Verstappen.

Perez’s speed was insufficient and remained so throughout the weekend. The qualifying events only set him up for disappointment. Verstappen’s flawless opening stint made the outcome feel even more inevitable – he lost minimal time navigating through the pack on hard tires, and everything proceeded smoothly.

Miami Grand Prix 2023 max verstappen

Perez’s high points – Jeddah, Baku – are not the issue. Failing to win a race from pole position while Verstappen starts ninth highlights a performance gap that could jeopardize his championship aspirations.

Perez has earned a reputation as F1’s “tire whisperer” – someone who excels at managing delicate tires and extracting maximum efficiency from them during long, demanding, one-stop races in the Pirelli era.

However, the Miami GP demonstrated that his 2023 title rival and Red Bull teammate Verstappen is actually better in this aspect, even though Perez was confident (bolstered by his impressive Baku victory) that he had started to “crack the code” of Red Bull’s F1 cars.

Perez quickly pointed out the challenges of making the medium tires work effectively at the start of the Miami GP, with the rain-washed track lacking grip and the cars heavy with fuel. Front-right tire graining limited his pace during the first stint, preventing him from pulling away from the pack and controlling the race as Verstappen recovered from losing pole position on Saturday.

Perez’s struggles indeed helped Verstappen minimize the damage from starting ninth, keeping him within about five seconds of Perez during the first stint. However, the real impact occurred after Perez pitted to replace the problematic mediums.


Equipped with much fresher hard tires compared to Verstappen’s race-start set, Perez should have been reducing Verstappen’s lead and remaining comfortably within his pit window before Verstappen’s mandatory stop.

But Verstappen managed to lap so swiftly and efficiently on his worn tires that when he exited his pitstop (on medium tires better suited to a grippier track and a lighter car), he was right behind Perez instead of trailing by several seconds. Verstappen’s inevitable victory then became merely a matter of time, with no need to chase a significant gap and risk wearing out the medium tires.

A key aspect that distinguishes truly elite F1 drivers from the rest in the Pirelli-era is the ability to adeptly manipulate the car under challenging track conditions and when tires aren’t performing optimally, leaving opponents struggling to find an answer even when they should theoretically have an advantage.

Lewis Hamilton frequently demonstrated this against Valtteri Bottas when they were Mercedes teammates, and in Miami, Verstappen provided Perez a taste of what it means to be a genuine F1 “tire whisperer.”

Climbing from ninth to first wasn’t entirely new territory for Verstappen, as he previously went from 15th to second in Jeddah and 14th to first at Spa. What stood out in Miami was the ease with which Verstappen left everyone behind in crucial sessions prior to his Q3 mishap, making his advantage over the field, including Perez, appear somewhat staggering. In practice, it seemed as though every time someone approached Verstappen, he’d quickly reassert his lead by half a second. And most of the time, it wasn’t even Perez getting closest.

The combination of his speed and Red Bull’s overtaking advantage rendered grid positions nearly irrelevant.

Another indication of how effortlessly Verstappen is contending for the title is his reaction to starting ninth on the grid. Although he mentioned being upset and frustrated after qualifying, his tone and demeanor didn’t reflect those emotions. This level of annoyance seemed more like a minor inconvenience, and starting ninth with his championship challenger on pole should have been a more significant concern.


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