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Max Verstappen will have to drive his heart out to win in Miami

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was unable to get his late fast lap after Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc crashed and qualifying was cut short with one minute 36 seconds left.

Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing. Picture: CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH/EPA

Miami, United States – Formula One world champion Max Verstappen said victory in Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix is “not impossible” despite him starting ninth on the grid.

Red Bull’s Verstappen, who leads the driver’s championship after picking up two wins from opening four races of the season, was unable to get his late fast lap after Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc crashed and qualifying was cut short with one minute 36 left.

The Dutchman’s teammate Sergio Perez, who is second in the standings just six points behind Verstappen, grabbed pole position after Saturday’s qualifying.

Despite the setback, Verstappen, who won the maiden Miami race last year, was not giving up hope of a strong result.

“A podium, for sure, but I want to win, so this is not great. (Winning is) not impossible, but it’s not going to be easy,” he said.

While Leclerc’s crash didn’t help, Verstappen had already made life difficult for himself by not getting his full fast lap in earlier.

He said he had only himself to blame for having to pull out of his earlier lap after a mistake.

“I was a little bit offline out of (turn) six into seven, I felt a bit of understeer, and I just couldn’t get it back on the line. So I aborted my lap. It was definitely a mistake of mine trying to put it on the limit.

“Then of course, you need a bit of luck, hoping that there won’t be a red flag. But of course, when you try to think like that, then it happens. So, it’s a bit upsetting,” he said.

But Verstappen, winner of the last two Formula One seasons, was keeping a sense of perspective.

“I’ve been in this position before, you have sometimes a few setbacks but that doesn’t mean that it carries on for the rest of the year or whatever.

“It can’t always be perfect, you hope that it’s going to be perfect. Last year we had a tough start, but you still need to nail a few bits yourself. Today was not great,” he said.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner questioned why the race was only stopped 20 seconds after Leclerc’s crash.

“Had it been stopped immediately, you could have possibly got around,” he told Sky Sports.

Horner has been happy to let Perez compete with Verstappen, with no heavy use of team orders as of yet, and the Mexican says he is relishing the inner-team competition.

“I’m enjoying it. I’m just thinking race by race. I will go out … for my team because they’ve done a tremendous job and see what happens tomorrow (Sunday),” he said.

“It is a new opportunity, starting from pole. We are the ones that have (something) to lose, but we will just go out there and try to enjoy this amazing crowd,” he said.

AFP

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