How did Verstappen manage phenomenal hard tyre stint?

Max Verstappen took a stunning win at the Miami GP, but how did he beat Sergio Perez?


“If it’s a clean race, I shouldn’t see Max”. Those were the words of Sergio Perez ahead of the Miami Grand Prix. There were no safety cars, no retirements, not even a yellow flag, yet Verstappen came out on top after 57 laps.

After choosing to bail out on his first run in Q3, and not being able to set a lap time when Charles Leclerc crashed in qualifying, Verstappen started down in ninth and dropped a position to Valtteri Bottas at the start.

It was perhaps expected because he was on the C2 hard tyres when most of the field began the Grand Prix on the C3 mediums.

Meanwhile, Perez held off Fernando Alonso off the line but wasn’t exactly pulling away as he opted to save his tyres and remained no more than two seconds ahead of the Aston Martin driver during the opening part of the race.

Verstappen’s tidy overtakes

Verstappen picked off cars one by one, or two in the case of his three-wide overtake on Kevin Magnussen and Charles Leclerc into Turn 1.

He wasn’t breezing by the field like Saudi Arabia, instead having to get moves done on the brakes, which was far from easy on the dirty line.

George Russell, Pierre Gasly – dispatched, then close the gap to Carlos Sainz and Alonso before taking them both by the end of Lap 15 to be in second place.

At this point, Verstappen was 3.8 seconds behind teammate Perez, who was now struggling with his mediums.

This enabled the reigning Formula 1 world champion to slowly close the gap and he halved the deficit when Perez pitted on Lap 21.

Verstappen loses no time despite older rubber

In theory, a driver on younger tyres should be quicker than their rival on old rubber. This was the case at times for Perez but the overall net time loss for Verstappen was zero.

As expected, the Mexican came flying out of the blocks with fastest sectors to go from an 18-second deficit to Verstappen when he exited the pit lane, to 16 seconds on Lap 28.

A key moment came on Lap 31 when Verstappen began to pick up the pace as he was told by engineer Gianpiero Lambiasse to lean more on his tyres, so push harder.

Max Verstappen in action at the Miami GP | Mark Thompson / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

But, Perez was going through a purple patch of his own as the gap came down to 14.7 seconds over the next few laps.

We arrive at Lap 38 and Perez suddenly loses around 1.2 seconds to Verstappen, 0.8 of that came in Sector 1. Presumably, he went wide somewhere and spent the rest of the lap also cleaning his tyres up.

Sometimes, a small mistake like that can drop you out of the optimal tyre window and from there, Verstappen was either faster or could match Perez to the gap began to increase.

Both drivers were going quicker and quicker as the fuel level came down and the track evolved, as it has all weekend in Miami.

The Red Bull pair were going for it and this was a proper race-long duel that was going the way of Perez, but Verstappen‘s incredible pace in the second half of the stint saw the race move into his hands.

Remember, 20 seconds was the pit lane time loss, we told you this would be important pre-event, and Verstappen was 18 seconds ahead when he pitted at the end of Lap 45.

Victory was now inevitable as those spectacular laps from Lap 38 to Lap 45 was where Verstappen won the race, or where Perez lost it depending on your perspective.

Perez fights hard but it isn’t enough

Verstappen brought his mediums up to temperature perfectly and set the move up a lap later by not going for it at Turn 17, knowing Perez may have fought back into Turn 1.

The championship leader waited and was on his teammate’s tail down the main straight and was forced to the outside.

Perez positioned his car perfectly here but just didn’t have the grip to do anything about Verstappen on the outside.

There was the smallest of lockups from Perez, so he really couldn’t have done anything more, or else a collision was just waiting to happen.

Max Verstappen celebrates with Sergio Perez after the Miami GP | Mark Thompson / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

The race was lost before the race-winning overtake though and the Miami GP proved why Verstappen simply has the upper hand on Perez more often than not.

Fourteen points in Verstappen‘s favour and his Miami Twice win was one of his best victories in F1, he’s had a fair few of those as well.

Nigel Chiu
Nigel Chiu
Nigel Chiu is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who worked at Total-Motorsport for 18 months until May 2023. He has been following F1 since 2007 and hasn’t missed a Grand Prix weekend since. Nigel’s worked with several motorsport websites, plus Eurosport and subsequently went on to work with Sky Sports F1 where he travels to multiple F1 races each season.
- Advertisment -


Lewis Hamilton at 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix | Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton explains why F1 doesn’t need a transfer window

Lewis Hamilton has weighed in with his thoughts on whether Formula 1 should adopt a football-style transfer window to...
Max Verstappen leads Lando Norris of McLaren during the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Forget Ferrari, McLaren are the biggest threat to Red Bull

The very fact that Lando Norris was disappointed and frustrated with finishing second at the Formula 1 2024 Canadian...
Sergio Perez looks on at the 2024 Canadian GP | Mark Thompson / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Horner calls for Perez to bounce back as he heaps praise on Verstappen

Team principal Christian Horner for Sergio Perez to get back to from for the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix whilst...

Should F1 adopt a football-style transfer window for drivers? Max Verstappen is the proof...

Formula 1 is unlike any other sport, and that's fine - the F1 purists thrive on its unique qualities....

What went wrong for Will Brown, Cam Waters in NASCAR Cup debuts

The NASCAR Cup Series had some Australian flavour Sunday when Supercars Championship stars Will Brown and Cameron Waters made...

What we learned from the 2024 Canadian GP

Max Verstappen returned to the top step of the podium after a terrible 2024 Monaco Grand Prix with an...
Norman Nato leads the field at the 2024 Shanghai E-Prix | Formula E

Formula E 2024-25 calendar announced for first Gen3 Evo season

Formula E have announced its provisional calendar for the 2024-25 season, which will be the first campaign for the...
Race winner Max Verstappen celebrates after the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen aces huge Canadian GP test as Red Bull and Perez falter

While Lando Norris was frustrated with his team, George Russell committed a litany of errors and Lewis Hamilton lamented...

F1 risks repeating mistake with new 2026 regulations announcement

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali unveiled the sport's much-heralded new era of racing promising "a new generation of car...

F1 Winners and Losers of the 2024 Canadian GP

The dust settled on a barnstorming 2024 Canadian Grand Prix weekend with Max Verstappen returning to the top step...
- Advertisment -