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Max Verstappen wins the inaugural Miami Grand Prix to close the gap on F1 leader Charles Leclerc while Hamilton is 6th

Well, at least the Miami Grand Prix looked good.

The celebs also all came out as Formula 1 hosted its first GP in the city after what feels like weeks of back slapping and endless Miami Vice references.

Max Verstappen finished ahead of Charles Leclerc at the first Miami Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen finished ahead of Charles Leclerc at the first Miami Grand PrixCredit: EPA
Red Bull Verstappen has caught up with Formula 1 leader Leclerc

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Red Bull Verstappen has caught up with Formula 1 leader LeclercCredit: AP
Dutchman Verstappen has won his third race of the 2022 season

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Dutchman Verstappen has won his third race of the 2022 seasonCredit: AP

This was the race that F1 owners Liberty Media craved as they sought to capitalize on the sport’s boom in popularity in the United States.

But building a new route around the Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium and an enviable guest list that includes six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan, David Beckham, NFL star Tom Brady, actor Matt Damon and singer Pharrell Williams, among others, is not necessarily equated to a good race.

F1 has failed in the States in the past, largely because the tracks have all featured pretty boring racing.

That wouldn’t be the case for Miami though, would it?

Leclerc now leads Verstappen by just 19 points ahead of the Spanish GP

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Leclerc now leads Verstappen by just 19 points ahead of the Spanish GPPhoto credit: Reuters
David Beckham was one of several famous faces to watch the race live

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David Beckham was one of several famous faces to watch the race livePhoto credit: AFP

Unfortunately for F1 it has always been difficult to live up to all that hype as Sunday’s GP failed to match the excitement of the other ‘new’ track, the Saudi Arabian GP earlier in the year.

But it was a smash for Lando Norris, who rolled one of his bikes across the track, preventing Verstappen’s third win of the year from being a full procession.

A battle with Charles Leclerc over a couple of laps gave this race some much-needed excitement at the end.

The Dutchman got off to an excellent start from third on the grid and was able to pass Carlos Sainz, who started second on the dirty side of the field.

Verstappen held off a late Leclerc attack to win back-to-back races

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Verstappen held off a late Leclerc attack to win back-to-back racesPhoto credit: Reuters

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The Red Bull man separated the two Ferraris while Sergio Perez defended fourth after pressure from Valtteri Bottas.

But it wasn’t a good start for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, both of whom were skipped at the start.

Russell dropped to 15th while Hamilton was passed by Fernando Alonso, but only after the Spaniard slammed onto the back of his Merc.

Hamilton edged back up front but radioed his team to complain that he felt his car was damaged.

At the front, Verstappen started closing in on Leclerc and eventually made his move on lap nine.

With the added benefit of the DRS, Verstappen shot past the Ferrari man into the first corner.

Leclerc compounded his misery a lap later when a mistake sent him even further behind.

The barrage of pit stops did little to disrupt the order as Verstappen maintained his advantage over Leclerc while Sainz fell even further behind.

Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton finished the race in sixth place - just behind teammate George Russell

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Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton finished the race in sixth place – just behind teammate George RussellCredit: AP
Carlos Sainz was on the podium for the third time this season

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Carlos Sainz was on the podium for the third time this seasonCredit: EPA

On lap 41, Norris was cut off by Pierre Gasly and sent into a spin that knocked him out of the race.

The ensuing safety car closed the gap between Verstappen and Leclerc, but when the race resumed on lap 47 the race leader was able to hold his lead.

Verstappen shot away from the Ferrari while Perez did his best to get past Sainz.

Behind them, the Mercedes duo swapped places after passing Bottas.

But Leclerc started to fight back when he seemed to have caught a second wind behind the safety car.

He pressed the Red Bull man for a handful of laps before eventually conceding the fight and allowing Verstappen to take the checkered flag.

Verstappen, who started third, also collected a bonus point for the fastest lap.

It was a reversal after real-world reliability issues arose.

Red Bull's Sergio Perez finished fourth and remains third overall in 2022

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Red Bull’s Sergio Perez finished fourth and remains third overall in 2022Photo credit: Reuters
McLaren's Lando Norris has been forced to retire after losing a wheel in a crash with Pierre Gasly

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McLaren’s Lando Norris has been forced to retire after losing a wheel in a crash with Pierre GaslyPhoto credit: Splash

He said: “Great job guys. Have a good rest from the weekend.”

Leclerc was second, Sainz third and Perez fourth. Russell relegated Hamilton to fifth place.

Verstappen, who looked shaken after the race, said: “It was an incredible Grand Prix and very physical too.

“We kept it exciting until the end. I’m incredibly happy with the win.”

Leclerc added: “It was a very difficult race physically. I had problems with the medium tires and was passed and that makes it difficult for us.

“But Red Bull had the advantage in terms of speed.

“We have to keep pushing, upgrades will be important throughout the year but it’s been exciting and that’s what we like to see.”

Red Bull is just 11 points behind Ferrari in the Constructors' Championship

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Red Bull is just 11 points behind Ferrari in the Constructors’ ChampionshipPhoto credit: Getty

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5293599/max-verstappen-wins-miami-grand-prix/ Max Verstappen wins the inaugural Miami Grand Prix to close the gap on F1 leader Charles Leclerc while Hamilton is 6th

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