Max Verstappen says that title rival Charles Leclerc was “trying everything” in the Miami GP, but couldn’t do anything to stop him as they add on Turn 1 duel.

The reigning champion has therefore continued his record of winning every race he has finished so far in 2022, this time doing so in spectacular style by successfully pulling off an overtake on race leader Leclerc with a short dose of DRS into Turn 1.

Verstappen detailed his “physical” race, explaining how the pair’s tyre status ebbed and flowed whilst being similarly matched on pace at times throughout the 57 lap race. He also notes that he never once got to try a true practice start prior to the real race start.

“It’s a very good comeback,” Verstappen admitted. “I didn’t even do a start so I didn’t know what to expect in the actual start, but we had a good launch. And I saw the opportunity to go around the outside in Turn 1, so I tried and luckily it worked, so then I just tried to see the pace [with] Charles in front of me, and I think already from the start, it was very close.

“I just couldn’t get into the DRS initially, but then, at one point, I think Charles started to struggle a bit more with the front tyres, and it seemed like our car was very good on the medium compound. So once I got ahead, I think that basically made my race, because I opened up the gap. And basically, once we did the pit stop and put the hard tyre on we were actually very closely matched in pace,” summed up Verstappen.

Throughout Formula 1’s first-ever Miami race weekend, the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Sergio Perez looked to have superior straight line speed over the rest of the field, with Leclerc and Carlos Sainz both trailing Perez’s 334.6kmh (207mph) speed trap figure by around 10kmh.

Ferrari’s car concept tends to give them the advantage in qualifying, owing to how a higher downforce package usually gets the tyres working quicker than a lower downforce car. But Red Bull’s Miami speed ultimately was a huge contributor to their commanding victory.

The Red Bull driver explained post-race how he was “not very happy” with the late-race Safety Car, deployed after the collision between Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly between Turn 8 and 9. “I was not very happy with that Safety Car, but of course, fully understandable with what happened. And I think you cannot be too disappointed about it,” said Verstappen.

“Because also in the past, I mean, it has benefited me in some other races. I knew it was going to be a tough one to the end already because it was quite physical out there. So I knew well now the next 10 laps, I think it was, we have to be flat out, so on a track like this is not easy. I was struggling a bit initially with the tyre temps, like I was sliding around a bit too much for my liking, but then once the tyres came back up to temperature, I think I had a little bit more pace and of course, pulled out of the DRS which was very crucial around here,” summed up Verstappen.

After passing Leclerc on lap 9, Verstappen reveals how it wasn’t as easy as it looks to maintain his position ahead of the consistently competitive Ferraris. “He was trying everything to try and have a go,” he said on Leclerc. “And it was not easy, of course, to stay ahead because it’s easy to make a mistake around here in certain places.

“I had no issues luckily. I mean, everything was running very smooth for me so that was very positive. I think I had all my bad luck on Friday. And yeah, during those laps, yeah, it was very tricky, I mean, I was struggling a lot with actually the cold tyres hitting the kerbs. So going through the chicane was not easy. I made a few mistakes there a few times.”

Leclerc was also asked post-race on the strategy battle with the hugely fast Verstappen, and how he thinks the Ferrari stacked up against the Red Bull in Miami. “It was good, especially on the hard, I think we were strong,” he thinks. “On the medium, as Max said, we struggled a little bit after five, six laps with the front tyres and then… yeah, we struggled and basically lost the race on that stint, losing the lead and then losing quite a bit of race time there, because of the front degradation.

“We need to look at that and be on top of it for the next race. Apart from that, I think on the hard, we were very competitive or at least as competitive as Max and after the Safety Car I really thought that we would have a shot to actually take back the lead – but it wasn’t enough,” summed up Leclerc.

The two had a good battle for the lead too where Verstappen went on the inside going into Turn 1 where Leclerc didn’t expect much grip after trying the line in practice. Despite the lack of practice, the Dutchman took the line and went for it.

“It’s just a decision that you make at the time, right? From both sides,” said Verstappen. “I went right and Charles defends in the way he does. And then after the corner, you realise what is best, right? It could have worked for Charles; could have worked for me. It worked for me this time. It is just because… I mean we’re going at such high speed you have to make these decisions in like, milliseconds, so.”

And Leclerc added: “It’s always worth it when you are fighting for the lead. To be honest with the experience I had from FP1, FP2, FP3, inside there, it was a disaster, the grip on Friday and Saturday. So, I did not expect Max to have that much grip. But actually, I think it was much better for the race today. So, looking back at the race, you can always do something better but I thought that, at that moment, it was the right thing to stay on the racing line and try to optimise the braking point, which I did – but it didn’t work out.”

Here’s Max Verstappen clearing Charles Leclerc:

Here’s Max Verstappen clearing Carlos Sainz at the start: