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Max Verstappen

The Miami lap that would decide the 2023 World Championship

Max Verstappen romped to a third World Championship in 2023, but arguably sealed it in Miami in May.

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To news overview © XPBimages

You are Sergio Perez, and it is the evening of May 6th, 2023 in Miami.

You've just got back to your hotel and perhaps are catching highlights of the Coronation of King Charles III on the TV, but life is pretty good.

You will be starting tomorrow's Miami Grand Prix from pole position with your main title rival down in ninth after fluffing his first lap in Q3, before a red flag caught him out on the second runs.

If you win the race, you will lead the World Championship for the first time in your career, and you will have won three of the first five races of the year against a driver who destroyed you the previous year.

Come the start of the race, you even make a clean getaway and maintain the lead while your team-mate navigates his way through the pack. Everything is going to plan.

But on Lap 48, Max Verstappen crushed Perez's title hopes by scything past into Turn 1 - which started a downward spiral that took Perez to the lowest of the lows - and all but secured the title for the Dutchman.

Verstappen's win

Verstappen's victory in Miami was built on a fantastically strong stint after starting on the Hards, and running long.

He cycled into the lead when Perez pitted, but instead of the Mexican eating into the gap on the fresher tyres, Verstappen comfortably held Perez just outside his pit-stop window.

This meant that when Verstappen made his stop, he would rejoin a few seconds behind Perez on fresh Medium tyres.

The #1 pitted at the end of Lap 45, rejoining just over one second behind.

By the end of the next lap, Verstappen was right up Perez's gearbox, and out-braked him into Turn 1 on Lap 48, pulling away for the win.

This was Verstappen's third win of 19 and started his record-breaking run of 10 straight wins, with only Carlos Sainz in Singapore defeating him on a Sunday for the rest of the year.

As for Perez, his title ambitions went from bad to worse in Monaco when he crashed heavily at Turn 1, triggering a spiral of downward form as he trudged across Europe.

As a racing driver, all Perez has dreamed about is becoming Formula 1 World Champion - and so to have your dream so close and then crushed in an astonishing way is bound to have a mental impact.

Once Perez realises, like Rubens Barrichello and Valtteri Bottas before him, he cannot beat the all-time great over the garage, and accepts this, the better he will be for it.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

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