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Red Bull's Max Verstappen wins Miami sprint race to continue dominance

Updated
Max Verstappen was just too quick for Charles Leclerc in the sprint race
Max Verstappen was just too quick for Charles Leclerc in the sprint race Reuters
Red Bull's triple world champion Max Verstappen (26) completed a sweep of the first two sprint races of the Formula One season on Saturday with a win at the Miami Grand Prix.

In another dominating display, the Dutchman started from pole and was never challenged, beating Ferrari's Charles Leclerc by 3.371 seconds in the 19-lap race around the Miami International Autodrome.

With the victory, Verstappen remained unbeaten in Miami and stretched his championship lead over team mate Sergio Perez, who finished third.

"My engagement wasn’t good at the start so I had to squeeze him (Leclerc) a bit," said Verstappen. "Luckily everything worked out in turn one.

"It wasn’t entirely perfect. So we still have a bit of work to do.

"But a win is good. I’m happy with that and it gives us a good few points to look at to improve on."

Later on Saturday Verstappen will try to extend his run of consecutive pole positions to six having started all five previous races from the front.

French great Alain Prost, with Williams in 1993, was the last driver to take the first six poles of a season.

Verstappen is also looking to complete a Miami Grand Prix hat-trick having won the first race around the Hard Rock Stadium in 2022 and then again from ninth last May.

RB's Daniel Ricciardo earned his best result of the season after coming home fourth and ahead of the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, the only driver other than Verstappen to win a race this season.

Oscar Piastri salvaged some points for McLaren, grabbing sixth after team mate Lando Norris crashed out on the opening lap.

Nico Hulkenberg was seventh for Haas while Yuki Tsunoda grabbed the last points position for RB.

Verstappen got away cleanly but behind him there was mayhem going into the first corner with Norris and Aston Martin's Lance Stroll knocked out in an incident that also included Fernando Alonso and Mercedes Lewis Hamilton, who were able to continue.

Alonso would finish 17th in the other Aston Martin while Hamilton had looked to secure Mercedes a point until the seven-times world champion was handed 20 second pit lane speeding penalty dropping him to 16th.

Leclerc, who missed most of Friday's lone practice session after spinning out, very nearly saw his sprint race come to a disastrous early end when Esteban Ocon clipped his Ferrari coming out of the Alpine garage.

Ocon was pushed back in to have his front wing replaced and made it onto the starting grid but with a 10 second penalty finishing 15th.

Kevin Magnussen had an eventful afternoon in the other Haas, the Dane hit with three penalties totalling 25 seconds for aggressive tactics.

After the race Magnussen conceded the penalties were well deserved as he tried to protect Hulkenberg from challenges by Hamilton and Tsunoda.

"All the penalties were well deserved - no doubt about it," said Magnussen. "But I had to play the game again.

"I started using these stupid tactics which I don't like doing, but the end of the day I did my job as a team player and Nico scored his points because I got that gap for him so Lewis and Tsunoda couldn't catch him."

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