Not without difficulties, chased to the checkered flag and dragging a questionable strategic decision, but Sainz saved third place in the Miami GP and returned to the podium three races later, behind a very successful Verstappen who took out the two Ferraris on the track, Carlos at the start and Leclerc before the first stop. The champion then held off the leader’s attempts without too much difficulty to claim his third win of the season, and second in a row. Whatever the World Cup classification says, ‘Mad Max’ rules here. The two cars from Maranello escorted him to the podium and the driver from Madrid was able to take a breather after two fateful Grand Prix.
Sainz’s start was good, but the dirty side penalized him in front of Verstappen and the Dutchman thus got rid of the first Ferrari and stuck to Leclerc’s wake. The Monegasque shot, took the Red Bull with him, while there would be a gap with Carlos and Checo. New laps later and without breaking a sweat, Verstappen prepared to overtake Charles on the back straight and consolidated it on the first brake. From there, he sent again and hoped for a quiet race. It was being, in fact, everyone saved the pit stops (only one, the normal strategy) without incident. If the five seconds that Sainz lost due to a slow tire change that did not make him give up position, but did distance himself from his teammate, are not counted as an incident. Curious.
But with 15 laps to go, an erratic Norris (what a day for McLaren) collided with Gasly in a high speed zone and collided violently with the protections, losing a wheel along the way. First virtual safety car, which Russell took advantage of to settle his stop (and finish fifth, ahead of Hamilton) and then conventional. There, Ferrari gave away the possibility of fighting for victory: with two cars behind Verstappen, they decided to copy the strategy, not stop, instead of dividing it and changing tires with one of them. What could have happened? Checo did release tires, that’s why he put pressure on Carlos in a tense final ‘stint’ that did not end badly for the Spaniard because when the Mexican threw the Red Bull at him in Turn 1, very late, Sainz knew how to lift his foot and take the right line to regain the podium. He saved the double podium from a non-aggressive Ferrari when making decisions. Because Leclerc slightly put pressure on Verstappen, but there was nothing to fear. So they finished ahead.
Bottas, perhaps man of the day, was seventh ahead of Ocon, who did not stop until the ‘SC’, and Alonso, ninth with the other Alpine. The Asturian overtook four cars at the start, not bad, and then he fought with very worn wheels to the finish line. An aggressive overtaking on Gasly resulted in a five-second penalty that he served with the race over, so he fell one position to his teammate. Still, it is progress. He did not score from Bahrain.
Event of the year. Otherwise, more than 80,000 spectators and a carousel of celebrities, celebrities or stars of the sports firmament such as Jordan, Brady or Beckham. The ‘paddock’ in the previous hours, and the grid before the start, looked crowded as only happens in Monaco. Grandstand tickets easily exceeded one thousand dollars per seat, although in resale that figure was multiplied. Beyond the expectation, there was a certain papier-mâché stench around the Hard Rock Stadium, and not because the water that rocked the yachts was fake, but because one would say that there were more fans of glitter than competition. Fortunately, when the traffic lights go out, all the smoke that surrounds Formula 1 becomes that, smoke, while 20 pilots play the guy, that is true.