Max Verstappen joined the elite F1 group with Miami GP victory but is well behind Lewis Hamilton | F1 | sport

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Reigning world champion Verstappen started third but passed poleman Charles Leclerc early on at the Hard Rock Stadium circuit and saw off the Ferrari in a late safety car restart to claim his third victory of the season after five races. Despite this, two retirements allow him to stay 19 points behind Leclerc in the championship.

Still, victory in Miami was a major milestone in Verstappen’s career as it saw him surpass David Coulthard’s total of 62 podium finishes. Verstappen’s 63rd podium finish means he has the 10th most top-three finishes in F1 history.

He is only four behind Valtteri Bottas and can overtake the Finn with far fewer race starts. It took just 146 races for Verstappen to clinch 63 podiums while Bottas has amassed his 67 in 183 so far.

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Rubens Barrichello is next on 68 podiums while Verstappen will have three-time world champion Ayrton Senna in his sights thereafter. Senna has 80 to his name, meaning Verstappen needs to finish third or higher in the remaining 18 races this season to surpass the Brazilian icon.

After that, Verstappen will aim to surpass Fernando Alonso’s current tally of 98 and break the 100 barrier. Kimi Raikkonen retired on 103 and is fifth on the list, with Sebastian Vettel currently on 122 and sitting third. .

Even if he does eventually reach Vettel to take third, Verstappen will still have a lot of work to do to catch up with Hamilton. The seven-time champion has amassed an incredible 183 podium finishes in 293 race starts so far and is hoping to reach 200 before his eventual retirement, despite Mercedes struggling this season.

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As things stand, Verstappen has 120 podiums behind Hamilton although he is closing the gap. The Briton is currently 28 points ahead of any other driver, with Michael Schumacher having collected 155 career podiums.

Verstappen already holds the record for the most podium finishes in a single season after racking up 18 in 2021, and at his current rate the 24-year-old has a real chance of holding the record for the most podium finishes at the end of his career. That’s if Red Bull can maintain their success in the sport.

And the Dutch native insists after the inaugural Miami Grand Prix that Red Bull has work to do. He said: “We still have issues to work out. We’re quick but as you can see my Friday was terrible which wasn’t great if you want to have a good weekend.

“I also think that Checo [Sergio Perez] had some issues during the race so we have to be above that. We have a lot of potential, but we have to make sure it’s reliable. We just have to organize a really positive weekend without problems. I think of course at Imola we had that, but it’s still a bit random, too.

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