MEMI GARDEN, Florida – His first day of racing on the new Formula 1 track in Miami was absolutely terrible. He then made a mistake in qualifying that cost him a place in the front row.

By the time the race day came, Max Ferstappen had knocked everything out of his system.

Ferstappen was explosive at the start on Sunday and used a couple of aggressive passes to bypass Ferrari and current championship leader Charles Leclerc. Going forward, the reigning world champion controlled the first Miami Grand Prix, gaining his third victory in five races to start the season.

“We still need to address a few issues,” Ferstappen said. “I mean, we’re fast, but my Friday was awful, which isn’t very good. But there is great potential. ”

The 23rd victory in the Dutchman’s career took eight points from Leclerc’s lead in the standings. Now Ferstappen is 19 points behind him and in two weeks will go to the Spanish Grand Prix.

Ferstappen kicked off on the third Sunday after Ferrari blocked the front row with Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. in qualifying. But in the end, Red Bull got the best of their new rival for the second race in a row.

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Ferstappen rushed at the start to overtake Sainz, then aimed at Leclerc and used a strong outside pass on the ninth lap to take the lead. Ferstappen was left without problems until the recent crash between Landa Norris and Pierre Gasley brought the safety car out and set up a 10-lap sprint to the finish line on 19 turns, 3.36 miles (5.41 kilometers) built around Hard Rock Stadium. .

Leclerc looked inside several times on the final laps, but Ferstappen did not relent and won with 3.7 seconds. He also won two weeks ago in Imola when Red Bull took advantage of a bad weekend at Ferrari on Italian soil with a 1-2 finish for Ferstappen and Sergio Perez.

In Miami, Ferrari settled for second and third place behind Leclerc and Sainz, and Perez was fourth. After the race, he said he had begun negotiations on a new contract with Red Bull, but neither side was in a hurry to complete the deal.

Mercedes showed significant improvement, finishing fifth and sixth with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton. This is the fourth time in five races that freshman Mercedes Russell has defeated a seven-time champion.

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The race itself was not the thriller that 85,000 visitors were waiting for on Sunday, suffocating when they scored one of the hottest tickets in the sport. The promoters have never conducted general ticket sales due to declining early demand, and the campus around Hard Rock Stadium has been the venue for parties for the past three days.

Whether in an artificial beach club where music entertainers have been entertained since Friday, or in a “pier” that docked 10 boats on plywood covered with a sticker reminiscent of exciting water, F1 got the sun, sand and background of Miami that wanted when he wanted to agree to this 10-year deal.

On the day of the race the celebrities came out in full force. Dwayne Wade took a selfie on the launch pad while Paris Hilton danced in front of a McLaren garage; Tom Brady, David Beckham and Michael Jordan were photographed before the race with Lewis Hamilton, who hosted former First Lady Michelle Obama on the track on Saturday. Serena Williams leaned towards Mercedes hospitality, and Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny arrived on the scene with Perez and spent most of the pre-race at Red Bull with the Mexican racer.

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The Miami event gives the U.S. two Formula One races in one season for the first time since 1984. F1 will add Las Vegas to the third American race in 2023.

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