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REPORT: Norris rides luck, breaks duck in Miami

Matt Clayton
Monday, 6 May 2024

McLaren’s Lando Norris took his first F1 win with prodigious pace after a slice of good fortune, a mid-race safety car playing into his hands before the Briton drove away from Max Verstappen in Florida.

Lando Norris broke through for his maiden Formula 1® victory on his 110th start at the Miami Grand Prix, the McLaren driver showing superior late-race pace after a safety car period played into his favour halfway through Sunday’s 57-lap race.

From fifth on the grid, Norris didn’t feature in the early stages as teammate Oscar Piastri made a brilliant start from sixth, slotting into a gap prompted by Sergio Perez (Red Bull Racing) overshooting the first corner and causing Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) to check up, Piastri trailing only pole-sitter Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing) after passing Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc for second in the opening laps.


The race came to Norris soon after a virtual safety car period for debris caused by Verstappen, who knocked over a bollard at the Turn 15 chicane on lap 22 and then pitted a lap later.

With Leclerc, Sainz and Piastri all pitting in the subsequent four laps, Norris inherited the lead and was then ideally-placed to retain his advantage after Kavin Magnussen (Haas) and Logan Sargeant (Williams) crashed at Turn 3 on lap 29, causing a full safety car.

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Norris had Verstappen large in his mirrors when racing resumed on lap 33, but cantered away from the reigning world champion, his prodigious pace on hard tyres that were six laps younger – and Verstappen’s own grip issues – seeing the Briton storm to a 7.612sec advantage by the chequered flag for McLaren’s first win since the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.

Leclerc rounded out the podium for Ferrari, while RB’s Yuki Tsunoda was another driver to use a free stop under the safety car to his advantage, the Japanese driver finishing seventh to equal his best result of the season with Australia.

Norris’ win came 24 hours after he was a first-corner retirement in Saturday’s Sprint, won by Verstappen from pole. Norris was hit by Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll in a chain-reaction crash, and was fined 50,000 Euros for crossing a live track without the permission of marshals to return to the pits.

Aussie watch

Oscar Piastri and Daniel Ricciardo finished 13th and 15th respectively in Miami, which was a hugely underwhelming way to finish a weekend that, for both Australians, had its high points.

Sixth in Saturday’s Sprint, Piastri looked nailed-on for a Grand Prix podium if the race had followed a predictable path from its opening stint, where he kept Leclerc at bay to run second, and led for four laps when Verstappen pitted ahead of him.

Shuffled back behind Norris after the safety car, Piastri was then hit by Sainz as the pair squabbled on lap 39, Piastri’s broken front wing after contact with the Ferrari necessitating an unscheduled pit stop and a prompting a freefall to the back of the field. Sainz was given a five-second time penalty after the race for causing the collision.

Piastri’s pace saw him jump back to 13th by the chequered flag and set the fastest lap, but it was a case of what might have been for the McLaren driver.

Ricciardo, who was a brilliant fourth from fourth on the grid in Saturday’s Sprint, knew he was in for a day of pain on Sunday after grip issues saw him qualify 18th for the Grand Prix proper, which became 20th and last after his penalty for a safety car incident with Nico Hulkenberg (Haas) was applied from the previous race in China.

Ricciardo went long on hard tyres from the back, and while he was able to pit under the safety car caused by the Magnussen/Sargeant shunt, could only recover as far as 15th by the end, the Aussie duo finishing one second apart.

Unsung hero

It’s been a rough year for Alpine, who hadn’t scored a single point in the first five rounds before flying to Florida … which made 10th in Sunday’s Grand Prix and a precious point for Esteban Ocon as much a relief as something to celebrate.

Ocon was close to scoring in Shanghai a fortnight ago with 11th, and Alpine looked to have made a step in Miami with an improved qualifying result for Pierre Gasly (12th) and Ocon (13th) before Ocon became the biggest beneficiary of Piastri’s late-race misfortune for the team that scored 120 points to finish sixth in last year’s constructors’ championship.

“We are not going to be jumping with happiness or be over-delighted, of course,” Ocon said.

“But looking at how we were are couple of races ago, it’s baby steps that we are doing.”

Number to know

16: It was sweet 16 for Norris; the McLaren driver had finished second eight times and had 15 podiums to his name before Sunday’s first race victory.

Miami Grand Prix: top 10

1. Lando Norris (McLaren) 1hr 30mins 49.876secs
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing) +7.612secs
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +9.920secs
4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull Racing) +14.650secs
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +16.407secs (5sec time penalty applied post-race)
6. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +16.585secs
7. Yuki Tsunoda (RB) +26.185secs
8. George Russell (Mercedes) +34.789secs
9. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) +37.107secs
10. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +39.746secs

Standings (top 5)

Drivers' championship

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing) 136 points
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull Racing) 103
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 98
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) 83
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 83

Constructors' championship

1. Red Bull Racing (239 points)
2. Ferrari (187)
3. McLaren (124)
4. Mercedes (64)
5. Aston Martin (42)

Next race

Round 7: Emilia Romagna, Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola (May 17-19)