Norris wins first F1 race, snaps Verstappen’s streak at Miami Grand Prix

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Some may consider Lando Norris’ victory in the Formula One Miami Grand Prix – his first career win – an upset. But the 24-year old British driver insisted he woke up Sunday morning and “knew” he was at long last going to be standing highest on the winner’s podium. 

He and his McLaren Racing team played the race strategy perfectly with Norris benefitting from a timely mid-race caution flag to take the lead from pole-winner Max Verstappen and then motored off to his first career F1 victory in 111 race starts. He posted an impressive 7.6-second win over the two-time defending race winner, the three-time and reigning world champion Verstappen. It marks only the second time in the season’s six races that Verstappen has not stood atop the highest podium position.

At one point with less than 10 laps remaining and a more than 5-second lead, Norris joked with his team on the radio, “Am I still alive?”

After taking the checkered flag and while making his cool-down lap at the 3.363-mile Miami International Autodrome, the popular young driver simply screamed with joy over the team radio. The sold-out crowd stood on its feet appreciating the moment.

“I love you all, I love you all, thank you so much – we did it, we did it,’’ Norris yelled, adding, “I guess that’s how it’s done. Finally. I’m so happy.’’

Norris insisted he had a good feeling about the day: “I knew it. When I came in this morning, I said today’s the day and I nailed it.’’ Then he immediately thanked his mom and dad and said “this one’s for my grandma. Thank you very much.’’

After climbing out of his car, a grinning Norris ran over to his awaiting team and jumped high into their arms where he was hoisted around. It was McLaren’s first victory in a decade and such a popular win, even the runner-up Verstappen came right over to congratulate Norris.

Verstappen: ‘You win and you lose’

“You win and you lose, I think we’re all used to that in racing,’’ said the Oracle Red Bull driver Verstappen who has won 38 of the last 49 races, but whose car did not respond as he had hoped. “Once I heard the lap times the McLarens were doing, I thought, man, that’s pretty quick.

“If a bad day is P2, I’ll take it,’’ he added with a smile. “I’m very happy for Lando … it’s been a long time coming and this won’t be his last one. He definitely deserves it today.’’

Scuderia Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished third – his second podium finish in the three Miami races. The timing of the safety car also hurt Leclerc, but he said he was satisfied with salvaging a third place considering the circumstances.  “P3 was the best we could do,’’ Leclerc said. “I am really happy for Lando, he’s been very close to it [winning].’’

Leclerc’s teammate, Carlos Sainz, finished fourth and Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez was fifth.

AMG-Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was sixth – the highest he’s finished in eight races. Yuki Tsunodo, with the Red Bull junior team, was seventh, Mercedes’ George Russell was eighth with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and Alpine’s Estaban Ocon rounding out the Top-10 – all scoring championship points. It is the first point of the season for the Alpine team.

The only American competing in Formula One, Pompano Beach’s Logan Sargeant, 23, was eliminated from competition after his Williams Racing car was hit and sidelined by Haas Formula One driver Kevin Magnussen’s car midway through the race. Sargeant finished 20th among the 20 drivers. He had a season-best 10th place finish in Saturday’s Sprint Race at the track.

Formula One moves to Italy’s Emilia-Romagna for the May 17 grand prix there – one of two Italian races this season. 

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