Formula 1: Lando Norris gets his first win ahead of Max Verstappen at the Miami Grand Prix

Lando Norris is a Formula 1 Grand Prix winner.

Norris benefitted from a well-timed safety car for a crash involving Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargeant and drove away from Max Verstappen over the second half of the race to win Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix.

Norris found himself in sixth in the race’s opening laps but his car had some serious race pace. Norris moved his way to second as the cars ahead of him made pit stops and was clicking off fast laps on his medium compound tires.

He took over the lead after Verstappen pitted just before Carlos Sainz and Norris’ McLaren teammate Oscar Piastri did. Once Piastri pitted, Norris took over the race lead when Magnussen and Sergeant collided in the first sector.

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 05: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes makes a pitstop during the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at Miami International Autodrome on May 05, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Clive Rose - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
Lando Norris got his first career Formula 1 win on Sunday in Miami. (Photo by Clive Rose - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images) (Clive Rose - Formula 1 via Getty Images)

The safety car allowed Norris to make his only pit stop of the day and stay ahead of everyone else when he left the pit lane.

Simply put, Norris wouldn’t have won the race if the crash hadn’t happened when it did. But his win wasn’t solely due to the safety car either. Norris pulled a second ahead of Verstappen a lap after the restart and then drove away from the three-time defending world champion over the final 24 laps of the 57-lap race.

Norris, 24, is also the first driver not named Verstappen to win a race in Miami. Verstappen entered Sunday’s Grand Prix as the winner of the first two races on the circuit around Hard Rock Stadium and won Saturday’s sprint race rather easily.

But Verstappen's car simply didn't have any performance over the final stint of the race. He complained over his radio of a lack of front grip and found himself much closer to third-place finisher Charles Leclerc than Norris by the end of the race. Verstappen was 7.6 seconds adrift of Norris at the finish line and just 2.3 seconds ahead of Leclerc.

Hours after the race, stewards gave Carlos Sainz a five-second penalty for a collision with Piastri. That penalty dropped him from fourth to fifth.

Norris is just the third driver outside of Verstappen to win a race since the start of the 2023 season. Verstappen won 19 of 22 races a season ago, while his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez got two wins and Ferrari's Carlos Sainz won once. Entering Sunday's race, Sainz was the only driver other than Verstappen to get a win through the first five races of 2024 after Verstappen was forced to retire early from the Australian Grand Prix because of a brake issue.

The victory is also McLaren's first since 2021 and just the team's second since 2012. Until Sunday, Daniel Ricciardo's win at Monza three seasons ago was the only time in the past 12 seasons that the team had reached the top step of the podium.

But the team had been inching closer and closer to a win since the second half of the 2023 season. After a miserable start last season — Norris finished 17th in the first two races and had four 17th-place finishes over the first seven races — McLaren’s upgrades paid some serious dividends as the season went on.

Norris went on to score seven podiums and have an average finish of eighth last season with just one finish outside the top nine over the final 13 races of 2023.

McLaren’s speed carried over to 2024 too. Though the team has been third-best on the grid overall behind Red Bull and Ferrari, Norris finished third in the Australian Grand Prix and was second in the Chinese Grand Prix. He hasn’t finished worse than eighth in any of the first six races of this season.

1. Lando Norris

2. Max Verstappen

3. Charles Leclerc

4. Sergio Perez

5. Carlos Sainz

6. Lewis Hamilton

7. Yuki Tsunoda

8. George Russell

9. Fernando Alonso

10. Esteban Ocon

11. Nico Hulkenberg

12. Pierre Gasly

13. Oscar Piastri

14. Zhou Guanyu

15. Daniel Ricciardo

16. Valtteri Bottas

17. Lance Stroll

18. Kevin Magnussen

19. Alex Albon

20. Logan Sargeant