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F1 Miami GP: Lando Norris Finally Wins

With 57 laps of pure entertainment ending in tears (of joy), it’s safe to say the 2024 Miami Grand Prix was one for the books. Lando “No-Wins” is no more as he ends the Verstappen win streak with his own maiden F1 win. But let’s revisit the weekend, from the very beginning: 

Practice Session (May 3rd, 2:30PM) 

Since Miami was a Sprint weekend, there was only one 60-minute window for drivers to test out the temporary street track around the Hard Rock Stadium. Shortly after the start of the practice session, Ferrari driver – Charles Leclerc – initiated the weekend’s first drama as he bounced over the curbs of turn 16 and spun out, narrowly shying away from the barriers. This accident placed Leclerc facing sideways between the walls lining the track, blocking drivers from getting through. Unable to correct the situation, Leclerc jumped out of the car. The marshals then stepped in and removed his car; causing a red flag. 

Leclerc or Lecrash? (Photo Courtsey of the Mirror)

Once the session resumed, the drivers, minus one Ferrari, picked up their pace. Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz leading the way ahead of Sergio Perez (Red Bull) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes). But none of the drivers had top speed, as it was Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who brought in the fastest lap. 

Following that single hour of practice, the 10 teams regrouped and got ready for the Sprint Qualifying session. 

Sprint Qualifying Session (May 3rd, 4:30PM) 

In order to make grid placement fair in races, drivers undergo a qualifying session to see who can set the fastest laps and earn early positions on the grid. The qualifying sessions (or qualies) are split into three rounds – SQ 1, SQ2, & SQ3 – with the five slowest drivers being dropped in each.  

Leclerc hit the track first during SQ1 clearly keen on overcoming his earlier incident. But it was Verstappen who topped the timesheets as SQ1 hit its halfway mark with Oscar Piastri (McLaren) right on his tail. By the end of SQ1, it was Lando Norris of McLaren who slotted himself into P1, showcasing the speed brought on by McLaren’s updates, as Piastri was P2. Meanwhile, it was the pair of Willimas drivers in Alex Albon and Logan Sargent and the Kick Sauber team with Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu as well as Alpine’s Pierre Gasly who got dropped. 

The remaining 15 drivers focused on putting some early flying laps on board. With five minutes left, Sergio Perez led the pack, but was quickly shot down the ranks as Norris came in with the fastest lap of SQ2. At this point, all eyes turned to the drivers at risk of elimination. Verstappen comes in late and takes P4 leaving both Mercedes, Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Kevin Magnussen (Haas), and Yuki Tsunoda (RB) in the elimination zone.  

SQ3, the final round, started quietly with no driver emerging from the garage until four minutes remained on the clock. It was Nico Hulkenberg of Haas to come out first, in what essentially became a one-lap shootout. Max Verstappen, despite falling short in SQ1 and SQ2, pulled through in the most important part with a fastest lap. He was followed by Leclerc in 2nd and his own teammate Perez in 3rd. Max Verstappen comments on the session saying, “To be honest with you, it felt pretty terrible!” He continues, “Of course, I’ll happily take it, but it didn’t really feel enjoyable out there to drive for whatever reason.” 

 But taking everyone by surprise, it was Daniel Ricciardo (RB) who slid into fourth, just in front of the Ferrari of Sainz in fifth. It was McLaren, who showed strong pace during the first two rounds, who came up short in the end as Piastri took sixth and Norris ninth. Splitting the pair were the Aston Martin’s of Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso and Hulkenberg in P10. 

The Sprint Race (May 4th, 12:00PM) 

The Sprint was an action-packed 19 laps full of almost Mario-Kart style fighting from the upper-middle and middle of the pack. But before the race could even begin, the grid was adjusted for penalties: Valtteri Bottas gets moved 3-places-back to nineteenth for interfering with Piastri and Alex Albon moved off-grid into the pit lane as Williams renovated parts of the car illegally.  

Max Verstappen defended his lead early – moving to the right-hand side of the track to cut off Leclerc and overcoming an almost immediate Safety Car – due to a near multi-car collision where Hamilton, Alonso, and Stroll make contact sending Stroll’s Aston Martin into Lando Norris’ McLaren, taking him out of the race.  

Its all too much for Little Lando Norris, after his crash that took him out of the Miami Sprint. (Photo courtsey of Race Fans) (XPB Images)

After the safety car, Max increased his advantage from Leclerc and Ricciardo smartly out maneuvered Perez, Sainz, and Piastri to slide into third. But on lap 5, Perez used DRS (Drag Reduction System) to overtake Ricciardo, forcing Ricciardo to fight harder against Sainz and Piastri. The next big battle was between P8 and P9, Magnussen and Hamilton respectively, with the Haas driver gaining an “unfair advantage” by leaving the track and cutting ahead from the turn 14/15 chicane.

This resulted in Magnussen receiving a 10-second penalty that would be added to his final time. A couple laps later their brawl continued as Hamilton tried to overtake Magnussen on Turn 11 as he turned wide and banged wheels with Hamilton, who remained in ninth. The pair weren’t quite done yet as on the 14th lap Hamilton once again tried to get in front. Unfortunately, he was pushed off the track which allowed Yuki Tsunoda to slide into ninth. Shortly thereafter, Tsunoda and Hamilton were both able to overtake the Haas driver, who was hit with further penalties.  

The Top 3 from the Miami Sprint from left to right: Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen, and Carlos Sainz. (Photo courtsey of Motorsport GP

As all that chaos ensued, Verstappen kept his lead, taking the win. He was followed by Leclerc and Perez, as Ricciardo held on to fourth over the chasing Sainz and Piastri. Ricciardo says, “Fighting towards the front just feels so much nicer! And you know, you see a Ferrari in your mirror and you’re like’ Alright, challenge accepted, let’s do what we can.’ And to be honest every lap I was able to hold off Carlos… I gave myself a pat on the back.” 

Danny Ric (and his smile) is back!! (Photo Courtsey of We Sport)

GP Qualifying (May 4th, 4PM) 

Just a few short hours later, the drivers had to battle it out for positions on the Grand Prix’s grid. After strong races from Verstappen, Perez, Norris, and Sainz, 5 drivers were knocked out. After an exit from Bottas, Sargeant, Ricciardo, Magnussen, and Zhou, the second round began.  

It started out quietly as Leclerc set the pace unbeatably quick right out of the gate, but soon after, double yellow flags were thrown as Albon “destroyed” his tires with an incident on Turn 17. Some big names lingered in the elimination zone, but as the last times fizzled in, Hamilton took himself out of danger and into third. That then left both Aston Martin’s out as Stroll and Alonso fell into P11 and P15 respectively with Gasly, Ocon, and Albon splitting the pair. 

As Q3 began, Hulkenberg in the Haas led the pack out but was quickly outshined by, well, everyone left. Verstappen was quick to take first place, clear of Leclerc in second and Sainz in third. Perez then took fourth leaving the pair of McLarens to settle in at fifth and sixth and the Mercedes duo stuck at seventh and eighth. Hulkenberg and Tsunoda rounded out the top 10 in P9 and P10. 

The Grand Prix (May 5th, 4:00PM) 

1 hour 30 minutes and 49 seconds of pure entertainment, this race, the 6th of the season, really showcased what each car can bring to the table. 

For the second time this weekend, right off the line, Pole-sitter, Max Verstappen managed to defend his lead. By the first corner, the Ferraris nearly banged wheels, Perez locked up, and Piastri rose from sixth to third. Further back the Alpines go at each other, touching wheels. 

A few laps later, Piastri edged his way closer to Leclerc and used the DRS between Turns 16 and 17 to snatch second place: his next target, Verstappen, now sat only two seconds up the road. Then further down the pack, Hamilton narrowly slides pass Hulkenberg along Turn 11 for P7 only to lock up on Turn 17 and lose the spot.  But a few laps later, Hamilton made a move to stay in front of the Haas for good. Hamilton’s teammate, George Russell, caught up and also overtook the Haas. 

Both Williams and Kick Sauber then pit their cars in the next few laps, in what is expected to be a one-pit race. The attention returns to the yet-to-pit front-runners as Verstappen extends his lead over Piastri to three seconds. Leclerc, Sainz, Perez, and Norris were bunched tightly behind Piastri, with Norris making a great attempt to pass Perez and falling just short. 

But then Perez was the first of the front-runners to pit, allowing Norris to slide into fifth. Perez returned but he was stuck behind Hamilton, Russell, Tsunoda, and Ocon. It didn’t take much longer for the next of the front-runners to pit as Leclerc boxes on lap 20, with a particular notable stop that dipped under the two-second mark. These two moves put major pressure on the McLarens, but they decided to stay out. 

Then in the silliest moment of the race, Verstappen skipped over the turn 14/15 chicane and struck a cone, which stayed on board with him for a few moments before ending up on the track, interfering with the path of the drivers behind. This prompted a virtual safety car to be deployed so a marshal could clear the debris. This allowed for a “cheap,” time-saving pit stop for Ocon, Alonso, and Magnussen. And by the end of lap 23, race leader Verstappen pitted just as the virtual safety car had ended. The trio of Piastri, Sainz, and Norris, still un-pitted, continued up front. Piastri finally pit on lap 27 followed by Sainz, giving Norris a run at the head of the pack. This left Norris one of four cars left who had not yet made a pit stop.  

Seconds later, an incident with Magnussen and Sargeant caused the yellow flags to come out and soon after, a full safety car was deployed. Poor Logan Sargeant, Ft. Lauderdale native, was then out of the race. F1 Fan and Fallston senior, Chloe Mullineaux, says, “Watching Logan Sargent DNF during his home race, and just perform poorly throughout the weekend was so heartbreaking. Justice for Logan!”

Logan Sargeant moments after crashing in his home GP. (Photo courtesy of Road Track)

 But this was just the luck Lando Norris needed as he was now able to pit with a much smaller time loss, meaning he maintained his position at the front. Norris continued to increase the gap between himself and Verstappen, with 20 laps left and a 2.5 second lead. Slightly further back, Piastri and Sainz get into it as Sainz overtakes on turn 17. There was a slight interference between the pair which resulted in Piastri losing two more spots to Perez and Hamilton. The stewards reviewed the footage post-race and determined that Sainz would lose one place from his finish. 

There were no such incidents at the front as Norris continued to increase his lead and eventually took the win. After 110 races and 15 podiums (the highest number of podiums a driver earned without a win), Lando Norris finally became a Formula 1 race winner. It was long over-do and came in a well-fought race that left everyone celebrating Norris.  

The top three was rounded out by Verstappen and Leclerc with Perez and Hamilton (after Sainz’s mishap) closing out the top five.  Lifetime Ferrari fan, senior Nate Hawk, says, “It was a great race to watch. I enjoyed watching Lando’s skill and seeing the upgrades to the McLaren on display. Red Bull and Ferrari were, as always, a joy to watch!”

Lando celebrating his first ever win! (Photo Courtsey of Al Jazeera)

 “About time!” Norris exclaims after his win. “What a race. It’s been a long time coming, but finally I’ve managed to do it. I’m so happy for my whole team, I finally delivered for them. A long day, tough race, but finally on top, so I’m over the moon.” 

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About the Contributor
Julianna Mullen
Julianna Mullen, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Julianna Mullen is a senior and a third-year journalism student. Aside from her role as one of the Co-Editors-in-Chief, she is an involved member of the FHS community: she runs for the school's track and cross-country teams, is the leader of Voices of Equity and German Club, does Morning Announcements, and is an avid member of the Fallston Drama Company. Julianna plans to continue pursuing her passions as an Environmental Sustainability major, International relations minor, and collegiate runner at Ursinus College. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and traveling to new places. She loves to write news-like feature stories and is excited for the successful year ahead for The Print Staff. 
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