A satisfying Sunday for Mercedes, a dismal day for McLaren, and other winners and losers from the Miami Grand Prix

Five races into the 2023 F1 season the song remains the same.

Red Bull is in a class by themselves, and the rest of the field is playing catch-up.

Thanks to a charge through the field from Max Verstappen Red Bull locked out the front row for the fourth time in five races, with Verstappen finishing ahead of teammate Sergio Pérez.

They are certainly a story, but there are some other winners — and losers — to discuss as we look back at the 2023 Miami Grand Prix.

Winners: Red Bull

For the fourth time in five races, Red Bull finished 1-2 atop the podium

With Verstappen and Pérez locking out the front row yet again, the Bulls remain the class of the field. Red Bull currently sits atop the Constructors’ standings with 224 points, more than double the tally of Aston Martin. Even with Fernando Alonso chugging along with his fourth podium and five-straight Top-5 finishes, Red Bull is running away with things.

And with the field heading to Imola — where Verstappen and Pérez locked out the front row in last year’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix — that shows no signs of slowing down.

Winner: Max Verstappen

Formula One: Miami Grand Prix

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

A special note for Verstappen, who charged through the field after starting ninth, and built a staggering lead over Pérez ahead of his mandatory pit stop. So even when Verstappen gave up the lead to his teammate late in the race, he came out of pit lane just under two seconds behind, and everyone in Miami and watching around the world knew what was coming.

And it did not take long, as Verstappen surged past his teammate for the win, extending his lead in the Drivers’ Championship in the process.

“It was a good race,” said Verstappen trackside when interviewed following the race. “I stayed out of trouble at the beginning and then just had a clean race, picked the cars off one by one.”

Here’s a look at his charge to the top of the grid:

Right now, Verstappen feels inevitable. While that might not make for a lot of excitement at the front of the field for fans, that inevitably is something the other 19 drivers are chasing.

Loser: Logan Sargeant

It was a homecoming to forget for Williams driver Logan Sargeant, who was born in Fort Lauderdale. Sargeant started at the back of the pack, endured some contact on the opening lap and had to pit early to change out his front wing, and finished at the back of the field.

“I put the car in a place I shouldn’t have in Lap 1 and took my front wing off. From there it was a difficult afternoon,” said Sargeant after the race.

“Sorry to the team for my mistake,” he added. “Once we went back out for the long stint on the hard tyre, I felt like I managed it quite well. The tyres were struggling by the end but that was to be expected.”

Still, Sargeant enjoyed racing back home in front of a friendly crowd. “On a normal strategy, our pace would’ve been pretty solid all things considered. Despite today, I still loved the weekend.”

Winner: Fernando Alonso

F1 Grand Prix of Miami

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Perhaps our best hope for disrupting the coronation of the Bulls?

The oldest driver in the field.

Veteran driver and former World Champion Fernando Alonso continued his incredible start to the 2023 season, notching his fourth podium in five races. It was also his first podium in the United States since the 2012 season, when he finished third in the United States Grand Prix.

Alonso would go on to finish second in the Drivers’ Championship, just three points behind Sebastian Vettel.

Can Alonso push that high up the table? Perhaps. But as he said trackside, the conversation around him and Aston Martin has shifted from where it was at the start of the season. “I think at the beginning of the year a podium was amazing. Now after four podiums we want obviously more and at least a second place,” said Alonso after the Grand Prix. “But, you know, the two Red Bulls they are always unbreakable and they are always super-fast. But as I said, maybe Monaco, maybe Barcelona we have a possibility.”

Winners: Mercedes

In previous F1 seasons, a day that saw the Silver Arrows fail to reach the podium would not see them classified as winners. But that is the nature of this 2023 F1 season. After a difficult qualifying Saturday for the team — that saw Lewis Hamilton fail to advance to Q3 — Mercedes rebounded to get both drivers into the points. George Russell finished fourth, while Hamilton worked his way from 13th all the way up to a P6 finish.

“That was a really satisfying race for us today,” said Russell in the team’s post-race media report. “After the challenges in qualifying, it felt like a more normal day for us. To finish P4 on merit and finish ahead of the Ferraris was the maximum we could have achieved.”

“Today was a good race and I am happy we moved forwards. Saturday was difficult, but I always try to turn negatives into positives. Going from P13 to P6 is decent and I had a lot of fun making my way through; it was great to have several battles, so I enjoyed it. It wasn’t spectacular at the start as we were stuck in a DRS train and struggling to overtake,” added Hamilton. “I had to bide my time and then eventually, I was able to start attacking. The car was much better on the medium tyre and came alive midway through the race.”

According to the seven-time World Champion, morale remains high within the team.

“It’s good points for the team and I want to say a big thank you to all of them,” said Hamilton. “They are keeping their heads down and working hard to improve. We’re not where we want to be, but the morale is still great.”

Team Principal Toto Wolff acknowledge the new state of play for Mercedes, while praising the work from both his drivers. “Two years ago, we wouldn’t have been as pleased with a P4 and a P6 as we are today,” said Wolff. “We know we have a difficult car though and clearly Qualifying was a real challenge. The car improved in the race, and we were able to achieve a solid result. Both drivers drove superbly today.”

Losers: McLaren

On the other side of the ledger, it was a difficult weekend for McLaren. Both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri failed to advance out of Q1, the first time the team had been shut out of Q2 since the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix.

With both Norris and Piastri starting at the back of the field it was going to take something special for them to make some noise in Miami. The team opted to start both drivers on the soft compound, hoping for quick starts to move them up the field.

Their starts were good, but everything after that proved difficult.

Norris did get that good start, but Nyck de Vries ran into the back of him early, and Norris was forced to pit just four laps into the race. “Tough day. We just struggled with pace. I had a good start, but we got hit from behind into turn one, which then put us at the back,” said Norris after the race. “We had tried a different strategy, which required something exciting to happen during the race, but it didn’t work.”

Norris finished the day in P17.

As for Piastri, he struggled with some brake issues throughout the Grand Prix, and ended the day where he began, in 19th.

“I had a lot of issues on the car in the race. We had a failure six or seven laps in on the brake-by-wire system. I was managing a lot of issues after that. I had a really good lap one, where I managed to pass five cars and that was the highlight of the weekend,” said Piastri. Otherwise, a frustrating afternoon, trying to drive around all of the issues.”

The two drivers discussed the race on social media Sunday evening:

The result must be bitter for the team, but as Team Principal Andrea Stella noted following the race, they will get back to work. “Our main takeaway from Miami is that we were not quick enough this weekend. After scoring points in Baku, this weekend serves as a reality check on how much work we have ahead of us,” said Stella. “The plan doesn’t change: we have good developments coming, we keep our heads down, regroup and go again in Imola.”

Winners: Alpine

Formula One: Miami Grand Prix - Practice and Qualifying

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

We knew that Alpine was under pressure to deliver this weekend.

We did not know just how much pressure.

That came into view Sunday morning, with comments from Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi about the “amateurish” performance from the team this season. Speaking with French outlet Canal+ ahead of qualifying on Saturday, Rossi did not hold back in his assessment.

“It’s disappointing, it’s actually bad,” he said. “This year ended up starting with a flawed performance and flawed delivery. It’s obvious our position in the standings is not worthy of the resources we spend, and we are quite far – in fact very far – from this year’s end goal.”

He was just getting warmed up.

“I’m noting not only an obvious lack of performance and rigour in the delivery, but also potentially a state of mind that is not up to this team’s past standards,” he added.

Still warming up, however.

“I did not like the first grand prix, because there was a lot of – I’m sorry for saying this – amateurishness, which led to a result that wasn’t right. It was mediocre, bad,” said Rossi. “And the last race in Baku was tremendously similar to the one in Bahrain. That is not acceptable.”

What might be acceptable? A double-points finish for the team. Esteban Ocon started eighth and finished ninth, while teammate Pierre Gasly finished in eighth after starting in fifth.

Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer provided a positive review.

“We can take some satisfaction from our weekend performance here in Miami, culminating with a double points finish after two fine race drives from Pierre and Esteban. Our race pace looked strong, we managed the tyres well to fight with cars around us and we come away from here with points on the board,” said Szafnauer. “It’s clear we have gained on some rival teams from last season with Pierre close to holding off the Ferrari and Mercedes at the end and Esteban going long on his first stint very much on the pace of some of the leading cars.”

Now we wait to see if Rossi concurs.

Loser: Nyck de Vries

Is it time to worry about the AlphaTauri rookie?

Nyck de Vries has yet to open his scoring account this season, following up last week’s P20 with a P18 in Miami. After two-straight P14s to open the year, de Vries has seemed to take a step back, finishing 15th in Australia before his P20 in Azerbaijan.

Again, the problems were self-inflicted. Early in the race de Vries locked up and ran into the back of Lando Norris. The result was a lot of vibration in the front, and a car that slid to the back of the field.

“After lap one, I was on the back foot. It was my mistake, I locked up and Norris and I touched. This compromised our first stint a little because there were a lot of vibrations on the right front which affected our pace. When you’re so behind and out of DRS range, you lose so much time on the straights that it’s tough to catch up,” said de Vries in the team’s post-race report for the media. “I was at the back, alone, so it naturally becomes easier when you’re not fighting as hard as in the middle of the pack when every moment counts. The weekend went a little up and down and started difficult; yesterday we had a better day and today was a shame that we lost so many positions on the first lap.”

The rookie managed to win a battle at the back with Oscar Piastri to finish in P18, but that is far from where de Vries wants to be.

What could be some solace for de Vries is that Team Principal Franz Tost seems to have some patience for his rookie driver. “As I always say, if a rookie is coming to Formula 1, he needs minimum three years to understand what’s going on here,” said Tost earlier this week.

Still, you would think de Vries wants to start moving up the field, rather than sliding back down it as he has the past two races.

Winner: Kevin Magnussen

F1 Grand Prix of Miami

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Finally, a word about Haas and Kevin Magnussen. The team wanted to put on a good display this weekend in the first of their three home races, and that is what they got thanks to Magnussen.

After his stunner of a P4 during qualifying, there were even dreams of the team’s first-ever podium being within reach. While that failed to materialize, Haas came away with a much-needed point as Magnussen finished tenth.

What was most notable about that finish? His duel with Charles Leclerc on the track. The Ferrari driver eventually got past Magnussen to push higher up the points, but the two enjoyed a back-and-forth battle that saw the Haas get the better of the Ferrari a few different times.

“We scored points again, three times out of five this year and that’s good, but it’s a tough crowd out there. We’re there or abouts and if nothing happens at the front then we’re fighting for the last points which are leftover, and we got them this weekend after a very good qualifying,” said Team Principal Guenther Steiner in the team’s post-race media debrief. “The race started very well, in the middle of the race we fell back a little, but we took a point home. All in all, it’s still positive. It’s tough and every point counts this year, and we need to be around when there are big points being dished out. I think we are always around so that day will come, but we’ve taken something away from our first home race.”

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