Formula 1 embarked on the first of its three scheduled trips to the United States in 2023 with the second running of the Miami Grand Prix and another superb victory from Max Verstappen.

With the entire 20-car grid reaching the chequered flag, which drivers shone alongside the reigning World Champion over the three days in the Sunshine State?

Max Verstappen – 9

Qualified: P9, Race: P1

The reigning World Champion rebounded from his defeat in Baku to land an emphatic fourth consecutive win on American soil.

Although missing out on pole position and ending up ninth was unfortunate and not reflective of his pace, Verstappen had been the quickest driver all weekend and should have avoided the minor error that saw him bail out from his first attempt in Q3.

However, the Dutchman was clinical with his overtaking manoeuvres in the early stages – executing a brilliant double pass on Magnussen and Leclerc – before producing a tyre conservation masterclass to eke out stronger pace from his starting tires than Perez could muster on fresher rubber.

1st place Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing. 07.05.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Miami Grand Prix, Miami, Florida, USA, Race Day.

Setting himself up to emerge out of the pits only 1.2s behind Perez on new Medium tires, Verstappen swept around the outside of his team-mate into Turn 1 to deliver yet another stellar win from lower down the order. 

Sergio Perez – 7.5

Qualified: P1, Race: P2

While Perez was not as comfortable in the RB19 as Verstappen and was perhaps fortunate to land his third career pole on Saturday, ultimately he was the Red Bull driver who nailed the lap when it counted.

But his shortcomings became apparent when he was unable to build a big buffer to Verstappen whilst he was in traffic, and an inability to reduce the gap on fresh tires in the middle phase.

Christian Horner argued he could have won with a stronger first stint, but Perez lacked a critical edge throughout and his opportunity for victory came about through circumstance rather than his raw speed.

After the high of Baku, Perez was simply outclassed by Verstappen in Miami, proving the levels he’ll have to reach if he wants to become World Champion this year.

Fernando Alonso – 9.5

Qualified: P2, Race: P3

Aston Martin’s momentum gathered pace again as Alonso returned to the podium rostrum after a single-race absence.

With Stroll knocked out and Alonso only P12 in the first segment of qualifying, it was a huge surprise when the Spaniard landed a front-starting berth by the end of qualifying.

Rather expectedly he was unable to live with Perez’s pace and Verstappen soon came by, but Alonso and Aston Martin kept their heads when Ferrari reacted to manoeuvre Sainz ahead, running longer by six laps and setting up Alonso’s fourth podium in five.

Lance Stroll – 4.5

Qualified: P18, Race: P12

Stroll has done well in the early stages of the year to be a respectable distance behind his illustrious two-time champion partner, but the Canadian wasn’t at the races in Miami.

Despite the ill-advised risk from Aston Martin to run the same set of Soft tires during the entirety of Q1, Stroll should have been able to escape the drop zone.

The 24-year-old was left with too much ground to make up on race day, even if he did pull off some sweet moves that earned the seal of approval from his team-mate.

Lewis Hamilton – 7

Qualified: P13, Race: P6

Despite Mercedes’ bafflement at its pace regression between the two Friday practice hours, Hamilton provided the largest shock in qualifying when he exited Q2 in P13.

Starting on the Hard tyre, the seven-time champion’s race was about biding his time early on in amongst the DRS trains and waiting for his switch to the Medium rubber to go on the attack in his second stint.

Once on the yellow-walled compound, Hamilton mounted a series of overtakes – including a sweet move on the inside of Charles Leclerc into Turn 11 – to haul himself back into a position the car should have started in.

George Russell – 9

Qualified: P6, Race: P4

Russell was left lamenting a poor restart lap that squandered points in Baku, but the Brit predominantly extracted every last millisecond out of the W14 in Miami.

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14 and Pierre Gasly (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A523 battle for position. 07.05.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Miami Grand Prix, Miami, Florida, USA, Race Day.

With Hamilton failing to progress into Q3, Russell delivered a lap capable of ending up sixth on the starting grid. As usual, Mercedes endured better fortunes in race trim; Russell made a decisive move on Gasly early on before reeling in Sainz and easily getting the better of the Ferrari for fourth.

Charles Leclerc – 5

Qualified: P7, Race: P7

Seven days can change a lot in F1.

Last week Leclerc’s qualifying exploits were heralded as he usurped the Red Bulls for pole position in Baku; this weekend it proved his undoing as his on-the-edge approach resulted in him spinning into the barrier at Turn 7 at the end of Q3.

Having made an error on his initial run at Turn 17, Leclerc’s second off-track excursion of the weekend meant he started P7, which saw him get too bogged down in the midfield in a wind-sensitive car that he described as performing too unpredictably.

Carlos Sainz – 7.5

Qualified: P3, Race: P5

Sainz was left perplexed by his lack of pace in Azerbaijan, but the Spaniard was pleased to be back on form this weekend.

While he lacked the outright speed of Leclerc over a single lap again, Sainz nailed his Q3 run to line up third and was looking on course for a first podium of the year when he successfully undercut Alonso.

His struggles on the hard compound from Baku reappeared, however, and Sainz swiftly lost the place to the Aston Martin before also being passed by Russell.

Although it didn’t impact his end result, earning a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane bumped down his overall score for the weekend.

Esteban Ocon – 7.5

Qualified: P8, Race: P9

Ocon could have potentially been in the same ballpark as his team-mate on Saturday if he was granted a second opportunity to produce a lap in Q3.

Nevertheless, starting eighth, the Frenchman managed a superb opening stint to carry the Hard tyre for 40 laps before seeing it through to add two points to Alpine’s tally.

Pierre Gasly – 8

Qualified: P5, Race: P8

After ruining the team’s points haul in Australia and suffering a disastrous weekend in Azerbaijan, Gasly would have been relieved to have strung together his most convincing weekend for Alpine in Miami.

The one-time F1 race winner qualified strongly in fifth and notched a solid points finish with an accomplished drive to P8, only relinquishing places to those in faster cars.

Lando Norris – 5.5

Qualified: P16, Race: P17

McLaren seemed to be in the ascendancy when Norris wounded up P6 in FP2, but that was as good as it got for the Woking squad.

A double Q1 elimination followed and a gamble to start on the Soft tyre yielded an extremely early trip to the pits.

Norris’ cause wasn’t helped by being tagged at T1 by Nyck de Vries carelessly out-braking himself on the first lap.

Oscar Piastri – 5

Qualified: P19, Race: P19

Despite his debut F1 campaign being stifled by an uncompetitive car, Piastri, now fully fit after recovering from his bout of food poisoning in Baku, did a reasonable job in qualifying on his first trip to the Miami circuit to end up just a tenth behind Norris.

Oscar Piastri (AUS) McLaren MCL60. 07.05.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Miami Grand Prix, Miami, Florida, USA, Race Day.

Piastri made use of the grippier Soft rubber at the start to move up five places. However, his chances of progressing beyond that were hampered by a long brake pedal.

Valtteri Bottas – 6.5

Qualified: P10, Race: P13

Bottas arrested his slump in form with a return to the assured displays he was continuously pumping in at the beginning of his Alfa Romeo venture last year.

The 33-year-old convincingly had the beating of Zhou Guanyu all weekend and was a tad unfortunate that the lacklustre race pace of the C43 didn’t allow him to translate his top 10 starting spot into points.

Zhou Guanyu – 4.5

Qualified: P14, Race: P16

Zhou has largely had the measure of Bottas in recent race weekends, but the 23-year-old was an anonymous participant in the States, qualifying 0.5s adrift and never looking like he had the pace required to be competitive in the upper midfield region at any stage.

Kevin Magnussen – 8.5

Qualified: P4, Race: P10

With Guenther Steiner stating prior to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix he would wait for five races before considering Haas’ driver options for 2024, Magnussen’s exceptional performance across the board in Miami came at the right time to potentially earn a new deal at the American outfit.

Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas. 07.05.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Miami Grand Prix, Miami, Florida, USA, Race Day.

Although not quite to the same degree as his Brazil heroics that landed him a maiden pole position last year, the Dane nailed the one-timed effort he would receive in Q3 – when others around him didn’t – to secure Haas’ highest-starting slot for a Sunday Grand Prix.

While the superior pace of the top five teams saw him tumble down the order, Magnussen maximised his machinery to pick up a solitary point, also enjoying a good tussle with Leclerc on the way, too.

Nico Hulkenberg – 5.5

Qualified: P12, Race: P15

Hulkenberg became the first victim on Friday of the low-grip conditions provided by the resurfacing of the track and his weekend spiralled from there.

The German stalwart was beaten in qualifying by Magnussen and failed to progress into Q3, setting him up for a race predominantly spent outside of the top 10.

Yuki Tsunoda – 7.5

Qualified: P17, Race: P11

Despite being out-qualified by his team-mate for the first time this year, Tsunoda rebounded in the race to lead the way for AlphaTauri in its pursuit of points.

However, a third P11 finish of the year would see him come up just short. Nevertheless, the Japanese driver produced arguably the move of the race on the first lap when he wrestled his way past Zhou at the tight chicane of Turns 14 and 15.

With a stronger package underneath him, his improved consistency in 2023 would surely have yielded more than the meagre two points he has accrued thus far.

Nyck de Vries – 4

Qualified: P15, Race: P18

After a nightmare weekend in Baku that prolonged his dismal start to 2023, de Vries finally put the pieces together in qualifying in Miami to beat Tsunoda to a place in Q2.

While it should have been a platform for a much-needed confidence-boosting weekend, the ex-Formula E champion undid his good Saturday work by locking up at Turn 1 and careering into the back of Norris.

A forgetful race followed as the pressure continues to mount on the Dutch rookie.

Alex Albon – 7

Qualified: P11, Race: P14

Albon produced a solid run of laps throughout qualifying to classify 11th, only five-hundredths away from making it into Q3 for the second time this season.

His drop to P14 by the chequered flag was reflective of Williams’ position right now, and Albon’s ability to mask some of the deficiencies of the FW45 car over a lap.

Logan Sargeant – 3.5

Qualified: P20, Race: P20

The hometown hero failed to make a mark on proceedings, complaining throughout Friday and Saturday practice that he was lacking confidence in the car.

That resulted in a massive six-tenth deficit to Albon in qualifying and a lonely race spent rooted to the bottom of the order after an early pit stop to replace his front wing took up to nearly an entire minute.

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