Max Verstappen managed to rise from ninth on the grid in last year’s Miami Grand Prix to take one of his most impressive wins of 2023.

This year, he has given himself the best possibility of repeating that feat by securing pole position for the sixth time in as many races at the start of the championship.

Fresh from his cruise to victory in Saturday’s sprint race few would bet against Verstappen chalking up another win today. But his margin of victory over second-placed Charles Leclerc was far closer than the last sprint round in Shanghai.

While Ferrari will be looking to put the championship leader under pressure over a full grand prix distance, there will also be plenty of intrigue back in the pack as several teams are set to fight over the lower points positions.


Drivers had near-identical conditions in both of Saturday’s sessions, with both the sprint race and qualifying taking place in ambient temperatures of 28C and the track temperature around 45-47C. Current forecasts for Sunday suggest that drivers can expect much of the same for the grand prix, which will start at the same time as qualifying at 4pm.

One difference between the sprint race and qualifying was the wind speed, which picked up significantly in the early evening – from around 7kph during the sprint race to 15kph by Q3. A southernly wind runs across the two longest straights on the circuit, but will produce a tailwind out of the final corner on the run to turn one. That could alter the effectiveness of the opening DRS zone, which has proven to be one of the more popular overtaking spots on the circuit.

“Every lap is a bit of an adventure with the wind,” said Carlos Sainz Jnr after qualifying. “You don’t know what’s going to happen.”


Short run to turn one thwarted Leclerc’s strong start in sprint race

For the second time in 24 hours, Verstappen will have Leclerc alongside him to the inside on the front row of the grid looking to beat him to the first corner. Although the Red Bull driver held his position off the line in Saturday’s sprint race, Leclerc got a superior launch and almost had his front wheels alongside the Red Bull’s rear wheels by the time they slammed on the brakes for turn one. Had this been almost anywhere other than Miami, which has one of the shortest runs to turn one seen all year, Verstappen could have lost his grip on the lead in this moment.

Leclerc admitted he could have forced the issue more into turn one in the sprint race but did not feel the rewards were worth the risk as he knew qualifying for the grand prix was just a few hours away.

“The first corner is obviously always important and Max has a very strong race pace,” he said. “So yeah, it’s definitely an opportunity to attack. But that’s only if there is an opportunity to attack. This morning, there was – I didn’t make the pass. Tomorrow, if we manage to make it, then I will be happy. And if not, we’ll be a bit more patient and try to keep those tyres to attack later on.”

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Last year all 20 drivers made just a single visit to the pit lane, the majority starting on the medium compound and switching to hards for the second stint. Of the top five finishers, only Verstappen – who started down in ninth – chose to run the hard tyres for the opening stint.

This year, with the same compounds and conditions expected as last year, Pirelli expect the same one-stop strategy to be favoured throughout the field once again.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Miami International Autodrome, 2024
Expect a standard one-stop race

“There is little doubt that a one-stop is clearly the quickest option,” said Pirelli’s motorsport director Mario Isola. “But it’s a different matter when it comes to the compounds and the order in which they will be used.

“While the drivers found the C4 [soft] harder to read over a flying lap, the sprint race demonstrated that it cannot be ruled out for the grand prix. The C2 [hard] will definitely be the outright favourite, but all combinations of it with the C3 [medium] and C4 [soft] are viable on paper.”


Saturday’s sprint race was defined by DRS trains outside of the top three runners. For the majority of the 19 laps, over half of the 18 drivers who made it through the first lap sat within a second of the car ahead. Leclerc said after qualifying his chance of being able to offer a contest to Verstappen rests on staying within DRS range of him over the first lap.

Kevin Magnussen proved how important keeping within DRS range of a rival is as he fell from a second of Haas team mate Nico Hulkenberg after the Safety Car restart to almost six seconds adrift by the time he was eventually overtaken by Yuki Tsunoda and Lewis Hamilton on lap 15. Despite Magnussen’s self-described “stupid tactics” to keep Hamilton behind him, the Mercedes eventually got by.

Mercedes have since taken some wing angle off their cars after the sprint race, which should help Hamilton and George Russell to attack any rivals ahead of them down the long straights. However, that comes with the compromise of slightly reduced downforce through the twisty opening sector to get within attack range down the multiple DRS zones on the circuit.

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Daniel Ricciardo, RB, Miami International Autodrome, 2024
Sainz couldn’t find a way past Ricciardo in sprint race

After the stewards had a very busy day on Saturday, they may have to put in another long shift on Sunday. With the major overtaking spots on the circuit naturally provoking drivers to either run wide at the exit of 11 where the white line runs well inside the outside barrier, to the fiddly chicane of turns 14 and 15 that many drivers will likely cut – unintentionally or otherwise – there are sure to be plenty of complaints filling the radio waves during the grand prix and many incidents for the stewards to investigate.

With Aston Martin slower than expected and two potential points places unexpectedly up for grabs, it would not be surprising to see post-race penalties determining the final points allocations, especially with drivers expected to make fewer pit stops than at most tracks on the calendar.

Safety Cars

Saturday’s sprint race demonstrated that Miami is perhaps one of the most treacherous opening sequences of any circuit on the calendar, with the third significant collision in the opening corners in three race starts at the circuit. Once again, the clash happened in the pack with Hamilton lucky to avoid a penalty for what could generously be described as an ambitious dive to the inside at turn one that claimed Lando Norris and Lance Stroll as victims.

With Miami’s layout featuring long DRS-supported straights intercut with tight, twisty sections, the track is almost made to encourage DRS trains. That means that there will likely be several packs of cars throughout the field again, increasing the chance that someone will misjudge a move or lose patience, leading to a yellow flag incident that could throw strategies up in the air.

One to watch

Logan Sargeant, Williams, Miami International Autodrome, 2024
Sargeant is badly in need of a strong result

Not only is Logan Sargeant the sole American driver on the grid, he is also from Florida, making Miami his ‘true’ home grand prix out of the three races held in the United States on the calendar.

The Williams driver has been under increasingly pressure after an underwhelming start to his second season in Formula 1 that he knows he was fortunate to get after a rocky rookie campaign in 2023. Even this weekend, rumours are flying around the paddock that his team are making moves behind the scenes to replace him.

Sargeant is fighting for his future in Formula 1. While not as fast as his team mate Alexander Albon this weekend, he managed to gain several places in the sprint race to finish a very respectable 12th. Although it may have seemed like he benefited from soft tyres, the reality was that he gained most of those places avoiding the clash in the first corner, rather than through on-track passes.

Even so, Sargeant showed that he has the ability to get in the thick of the midfield battle if he has the opportunity. What he needs to do now is back that up in the grand prix, where a top ten finish could be transformative for his and his team’s season.

Over to you

Who will offer the closest challenge to Verstappen in the Miami Grand Prix? Share your views on the race in the comments.

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