10 Things we learned from The 2023 Miami GP
The 2023 Miami Grand Prix was full of surprises and drama, with drivers having the chance to recover from setbacks during qualifying. Max Verstappen’s ability to recover from a low starting position and win races has become a signature feature of the “Red Bull-Verstappen years of domination.”
In the 2023 Miami Grand Prix, which proved more dynamic than many anticipated, drivers had the opportunity to recover from previous setbacks during qualifying, although some only exacerbated their current difficulties.
Alonso and Aston Martin Show Race Execution Mastery in Miami GP
Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin may be contenders for the best race execution this year, achieving their fourth podium in five 2023 Grand Prix events. Alonso maintained a solid pace with Perez early in the race, fended off fellow Spaniard Carlos Sainz in the first phase, made crucial moves after his pitstop to regain position, and then widened the gap from his pursuers.
Alonso even had the leisure to watch one of teammate Lance Stroll’s overtakes on the big screens, and he didn’t hesitate to share his observation with his team and the world.
While there is entertainment in watching Alonso push struggling machinery to its limits and openly express his dissatisfaction with his team, it is even more enjoyable to see him return to a competitive car and excel.
Mercedes’ Determined Efforts Secure Solid Result Despite Qualifying Woes
A result that might have once spelled disaster for Mercedes has now become a hard-earned stepping stone heading into the vital Imola upgrade weekend.
With a double Q1 elimination appearing likely at one point during qualifying, Mercedes managed to secure fourth and sixth places through determined efforts from George Russell and Lewis Hamilton. This turnaround demonstrated their ability to make the most of their chances.
Although the Imola package is not being hailed as an instant game-changer by Mercedes, the team has long anticipated it as the beginning of a technical resurgence. Failure to make progress at Imola would be demoralizing, but their recent performance provides a morale boost.
Alpine Shows Promise in Miami, but Consistency Remains Key
Alpine CEO Laurent’s brutally honest assessment of the F1 team’s season start, as reported by Canal+ and subsequently in English media, should have served as a wake-up call for the entire organization.
Considering that context, both drivers finishing in eighth and ninth places after starting fifth and eighth might seem like another metaphorical defeat for Alpine. However, the Miami race circumstances suggest a successful outcome, particularly given the team’s start to 2023. This clean, one-stop race saw both Alpines within seven seconds of Hamilton’s Mercedes and Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari. While Pierre Gasly was ahead of both during the final stages before being overtaken, it’s clear that the Alpine is currently slower than those two cars. The positive aspect is that the gap wasn’t substantial in Miami.
Gasly emphasized in his post-race interview that, despite the disappointment of not fending off the Mercedes and Ferrari, the leading car’s battle with them at that stage of the Grand Prix demonstrates Alpine’s significant progress over the weekend. Now, the team must consistently deliver such performances.
Many underdogs who outqualify larger teams tend to adopt a conservative approach during the race and show excessive respect when faster cars challenge them. While preserving tires and avoiding lap-time loss is essential, there should be a balance between defensive strategies and merely allowing top teams to pass.
Verstappen’s Spectacular Drive Sets Stage for Red Bull Dominance
Max Verstappen’s ability to surge from low starting positions to remarkable victories has become a distinguishing feature of the era that will likely be remembered as the ‘Red Bull-Verstappen years of domination.’
Verstappen acknowledged his qualifying mistake that put him ninth on the grid and compensated for it with a spectacular opening performance, allowing him to effortlessly overtake teammate Sergio Perez after his pitstop.
This display of exceptional driving and unwavering excellence makes Verstappen’s third F1 championship this year seem almost guaranteed.
Magnussen’s Creative Defense Earns Commendable Point in Miami
Kevin Magnussen masterfully found that balance as he defended against Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari for an impressive 38 laps, even managing to widen the gap after an undercut during the pitstop sequence.
Although Magnussen’s fourth-place qualifying position was somewhat unexpected, and he had an underwhelming 2023 season prior to this weekend, he hoped to score a point in the race. In the end, he achieved that goal, but his creativity and determination in fending off Leclerc for two-thirds of the race made this an exceptionally commendable point, earned with great honor.
Perez’s Championship Hopes Take a Hit in Miami GP
Sergio Perez entered the weekend with confident talk about his championship prospects and his ability to perform beyond his favored tracks, such as Jeddah and Baku.
His somewhat lucky pole position hinted at a possible shift in the points standings. However, once Max Verstappen began outperforming him on older hard tires, it was clear that Perez couldn’t compete against the superior Red Bull driver this weekend. Despite his solid defense, Perez was ultimately outmatched.
Teammate rivalry and disappointment at the 2023 Miami Grand Prix.
Despite escaping punishment, de Vries had a rough race, finishing ahead of only the lapped Oscar Piastri and Logan Sargeant. Meanwhile, teammate Tsunoda nearly achieved another impressive result, bringing the underperforming AT04 to 11th place, just one and a half seconds away from scoring points.
As for the American rookie in the Williams, there was a high probability of finishing last in his first home Grand Prix. Given his inexperience, the tight competition, and the cars he was up against, this outcome would have been understandable. However, sustaining front wing damage after contact with Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin on the first lap and consequently being left far behind the pack was a particularly disappointing result for the first American to start a home Grand Prix in nearly eight years.
Ferrari’s Sobering Reality Check Highlights Gap with Red Bull
Following the optimism of Baku, Ferrari faced a sobering reality check. While their single-lap pace on soft tires was relatively close to Red Bull, they fell significantly short in all other aspects, including the crucial points-scoring phase. This disparity highlighted the gap between Ferrari and the team they aimed to challenge for this year’s title.
It was quite embarrassing for Ferrari to see Charles Leclerc stuck behind Kevin Magnussen for an extended period, and Carlos Sainz’s performance deteriorated once he switched from medium to hard tires. To make this season more respectable, Ferrari must come up with a drastic solution to improve their performance.
McLaren’s Dismal Weekend in Miami Puts Them Far Off the Pace
Only one race after introducing the first of their upgrade packages intended to correct their winter shortcomings, McLaren faced a dismal weekend in Miami, showing no competitive pace.
In such a tightly packed field, it doesn’t take much to fall behind. However, McLaren, a team that should be aiming to be the best of the rest at the very least, failed to even progress through Q1.
There were no unfortunate incidents or disasters to blame for this outcome. McLaren simply couldn’t get a car into Q2 because their cars were not fast enough. They remained near the back of the pack throughout the race, as 17th and 19th were their rightful positions based on performance.
An ill-advised gamble on soft tires for a short first stint and Oscar Piastri’s persistent brake issues only added to the disarray typical of a team that is already off the pace and scrambling to recover.
De Vries’ Early Collision Sets Tone for Rough Day in Miami GP
Securing his second Q2 appearance of the season and outqualifying teammate Yuki Tsunoda for the first time, Nyck de Vries was well-positioned for the Miami race in his AlphaTauri, despite the car’s apparent difficulties.
However, his efforts quickly unraveled at the start when he collided with Lando Norris’ McLaren in the first corner, sending him to the back of the pack. The incident resembled a previous collision with Logan Sargeant during the Australian GP last month. Remarkably, de Vries avoided a penalty for the clash, which also sent Norris towards the rear of the field.
Stroll’s Strategy Backfires as Alonso Outshines Him in Miami GP
Alonso has consistently outperformed Stroll in both qualifying and races this season, but the gap was particularly noticeable during this weekend.
Stroll’s strategy of completing only one run in Q1 backfired when he underperformed and was eliminated. He opted for a long first stint on hard tires before switching to mediums, managing to overtake a few cars and placing 12th, right behind Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri.
Unfortunately, Stroll ran out of laps to pass Tsunoda and move into the points-paying positions. He failed to score on a day when Alonso finished third, which was not ideal for Aston Martin’s battle with Mercedes and Ferrari for second place in the constructors’ championship.
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