Verstappen and Red Bull on the hunt for Ferrari in Miami

Spurred by his latest win at Imola, the Dutchman Max Verstappen and his Red Bull team want to get closer to the leaders Charles Leclerc and Ferrari this weekend in the long-awaited debut of Formula 1 in Miami (Florida, United States).

Monegasque Leclerc and Ferrari dominate the drivers’ and constructors’ standings, with 27 and 11 points ahead of Verstappen and Red Bull, but on Sunday they will all face a new challenge at the Miami International Autodrome, scene of the fifth race of the season.

Ferrari comes from being the great loser of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at the end of April, where the Spanish Carlos Sainz retired and Leclerc fell to sixth place after going off the track ten laps from the end.

Red Bull cut ground with a one-two finish at the top of the Imola podium, with Verstappen in first position followed by Mexican Sergio ‘Checo’ Pérez.

The double celebration of the Austrian team in front of thousands of Ferrari fans compensated for the mechanical problems they had suffered in previous races.

With two wins each so far this season, Leclerc (Bahrain and Australia) and Verstappen (Saudi Arabia and Emilia Romagna) could be much more evenly matched in the World Championship had the Dutchman not had to retire in two rounds.

With 86 points, Leclerc is guaranteed to stay ahead of the reigning world champion even if he drops out in Miami but, in his first year competing for the title, he is aware that any mistake against Verstappen can be costly.

Perez and Hamilton behind
The fight between Leclerc and Verstappen, representatives of a younger generation of drivers, will concentrate much of the attention in Miami but the Mexican ‘Checo’ Pérez also hopes to have support among his large Latino community.

Pérez, third in the table just five points behind his teammate Verstappen, dreams of achieving a third victory in the competition that will propel him into the fight for the title.

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From seventh place in the standings, the British Lewis Hamilton is experiencing a nightmare start to the year, hampered by the poor performance of his Mercedes W13 and the problems of "pouring"which cause a rebound effect on the straights.

"I’m out of everything, that’s for sure, but I’m going to keep working hard to try to come back somehow"assured the seven-time world champion in statements to Sky Sports after the Italian race, in which he finished in a distant 13th place.

new circuit
The Miami circuit, 5.41 km long, is located in the surroundings of the Hard Rock Stadium car park, venue of the Tennis Masters 1000 and home of the Miami Dolphins of the NFL, whose general manager, Tom Garfinkel, is promoter of this new Grand Prix.

"I think this weekend is going to be pretty crazy"Verstappen predicted. "I am looking forward to the start of the race. I have already driven around the circuit in the simulator and we have practiced and prepared as much as we could without visiting it in real life".

The organizers expect to receive a total of 240,000 spectators from Friday, of which some 82,000 will enjoy the race on Sunday.

The Miami circuit, which surprised with the installation of a false marina, will be the scene of the first of the two American races of the season, which also has the Austin Grand Prix (Texas) on October 23 on its calendar.

The boom that Formula 1 is experiencing in the United States in recent years has led to the addition of a third test in 2023 to be held in Las Vegas (Nevada).

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