Miami Grand Prix Takeaways: Lando Norris Stuns Max Verstappen for First Career Win

The 24-year-old took a much improved McLaren to the front of the pack. Plus, a midfield team appears to be on the rise and a check-in on F1’s lone American driver.
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Lando Norris won the first race of his Formula One career, shocking world championship leader Max Verstappen and a sold-out crowd at the third annual Miami Grand Prix on Sunday. A heroic opening effort and a well-timed safety car helped boost the 24-year-old to reach the checkered flag first, while Verstappen’s Red Bull settled for second and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished in third.

Here’s more from the first Grand Prix in the United States in 2024:

McLaren Makes Its Mark

Nearly three years ago, a heartbroken Norris saw his first career victory quite literally slip away in the final few laps when the driving rain began to fall in Sochi at the 2021 Russian Grand Prix. On Sunday, there were no clouds in sight—just the South Florida sunshine and a McLaren driver standing on the top step of the podium.

Norris became the first driver since Carlos Sainz in Singapore last September to beat Verstappen on track and luck was only part of the equation. He put together the longest opening stint among the leaders on medium tires and was eventually rewarded with a safety car when Kevin Magnussen clipped Logan Sargeant and sent the Williams into the wall on lap 29.

After the restart, it wasn’t so much that Norris barely staved off Verstappen—he frankly dominated the remaining laps. The Red Bull had a brief peek at the lead at turn 1 on lap 33 but never saw another opportunity as the McLaren raced ahead down the road and ultimately won by more than seven seconds.

“It's about time, huh?” Norris said after kicking off the celebrations with his pit crew. “What a race. It’s been a long time coming, but finally, I’ve been able to do it. I’m so happy for my whole team, I finally delivered for them.” 

There was a very real chance that McLaren could’ve ended up with both drivers in the top four, seeing as Oscar Piastri—who had half of the upgrades the team brought into the weekend, while Norris was given the full set—was running in second prior to the safety car. Unfortunately, Sainz and Piastri collided near the end of lap 39, forcing the McLaren driver to pit for a new front wing and fall to the back of the pack. Even still, Piastri recorded the race’s fastest lap after the late stop—a testament to the strides the Woking outfit made this weekend.

Now comfortably in third place in the constructors standings, Norris and McLaren will hope that the upgrades carry over to Imola and deeper into the season as they seek to track down Ferrari.

Ricciardo and RB on the Rise

Further down the grid, another team other than McLaren will leave the weekend largely pleased with the results at the Miami International Autodrome: RB Racing.

It all began on Friday afternoon when Daniel Ricciardo had the drive of the day, qualifying in fourth for the sprint race. The 34-year-old Australian followed that up by holding that position in Saturday’s sprint to score his first points of the year. Teammate Yuki Tsunoda also slipped into the final points-scoring position that afternoon after Lewis Hamilton was dealt a penalty for speeding in the pit lane. 

Ricciardo (15th) may not have been able to replicate his success in the sprint following a disappointing Grand Prix qualifying and penalty that he carried over from China, but Tsunoda picked up the mantle. Similar to Norris, the 23-year-old managed to hold onto his medium tires until the safety car, allowing him to not lose as much time during his one and only pit stop. From there, he battled briefly with Hamilton before nestling in between the two Mercedes—in seventh, where he eventually finished. 

When all was said and done, RB left the weekend with 12 total points (five for Ricciardo and seven for Tsunoda), matching the amount scored by Mercedes. Both drivers might fancy themselves top options to fill Sergio Pérez’s seat at Red Bull next season, but for now, both can take Miami as a jumping off point for the remainder of 2024.

Hamilton vs. Haas

In perhaps the most bizarre subplot of the weekend, the seven-time world champion found himself in a series of scraps with a new rival: Haas.

Hamilton first found himself at odds with the American team on Saturday as he and Magnussen spent much of the 19-lap sprint jockeying for the final points-scoring position. The Haas driver ended up accruing multiple 10-second penalties for gaining advantages outside of the racing lines during the battle, but the showing was enough to allow teammate Nico Hülkenberg to comfortably hold onto seventh, where he scored two championship points in the process. 

On Sunday, it was Hülkenberg’s turn to go wheel-to-wheel with Hamilton. The Haas (with medium tires) had the early advantage over the Mercedes (on hard tires), but after a few laps Hamilton seemed to be far more comfortable. He eked past Hülkenberg through a narrow, inside window only to give the place right back by locking up at the end of the same lap. Finally, the Mercedes got clear on lap 10 and never looked back, finishing in sixth—his best result in a Grand Prix this season.

Magnussen dealt a bit of chaos to the entire weekend between his tussle with Hamilton and causing the crash with Sargeant. Though there may have been some entertainment for the more than 275,000 fans on hand in Miami, the 31-year-old racked up quite a few penalty points on his license, which bears keeping an eye on as the season progresses.


Where in the World Is Logan Sargeant?

Much had been made about the future of the lone American driver on the grid coming into his home race this weekend. The Fort Lauderdale native arrived in Miami amid reports of his seat growing hotter, a sentiment that was echoed when Williams team principal James Vowles said that for Sargeant to remain in the car, he would have to pull his performance closer to teammate Alex Albon. 

Through little fault of his own, the 23-year-old American was dealt yet another blow Sunday on home soil. 

After being just a little over a tenth behind Albon in qualifying, Sargeant started the Grand Prix in 17th. He drove cleanly through the first half and seemed well on his way to at least an uneventful and confidence-building race when Magnussen clipped him at turn 3.

The blow was enough to send Sargeant’s Williams into the wall and end his afternoon early. Though he clearly had gained the apex before Magnussen arrived at the corner, he was the only driver who didn’t complete the race—at a time when a DNF was the last thing that he needed.

Sargeant seems poised to hold onto his seat in the immediate, as Vowles said this weekend that a replacement wasn’t “on the radar at the moment.” However, 17-year-old phenom Andrea Kimi Antonelli has emerged as a prime candidate to slot into the second Williams and calls for a change will only grow louder if Sargeant doesn’t show some improvement later in the month in Imola and Monaco.


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Zach Koons

ZACH KOONS

Zach Koons is a programming editor at Sports Illustrated who also specializes in Formula One news and analysis. He started as a breaking news writer at SI before joining the programming team in 2023. Also a contributor to NBA and college sports coverage, Zach previously wrote for The Spun and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and currently hosts the Bleav in Northwestern podcast. Zach is a 2022 graduate of Northwestern University and lives in New York City.