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Perez concedes Verstappen’s Miami GP victory was ‘well-deserved’ after finishing runner-up

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Sergio Perez took pole position for the 2023 Miami Grand Prix but fell to second behind Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen, who made a stunning recovery from P9, and the Mexican driver admitted that the reigning champion earned his win.

Perez qualified first on the grid while Verstappen ended up ninth after Charles Leclerc’s spin cut Q3 short on Saturday. The #11 driver led Fernando Alonso away off the line on medium tyres while Verstappen made steady progress from ninth to the front on hard tyres.

READ MORE: Verstappen overhauls Perez for Miami GP victory as Red Bull intra-team battle steps up a gear

When Perez pitted for hard compounds, he lost the lead to Verstappen, regaining it later on when Verstappen swapped for new medium tyres – but he couldn’t hold off the two-time champion for long.

“Yeah, I mean I tried – I gave it all,” said Perez. “I think the first stint was really poor with the graining that we had on that initial pace. And that compromised quite a lot of our race. We didn’t have too much of a difference on tyre, and Max was particularly strong today, so a well-deserved win for him.

2023 Miami Grand Prix: Verstappen battles past team mate Perez to take the lead

"We had a bit of a fight on track which was quite clean – to the limit but clean – but putting the team in front of us," he reiterated. "Again, a great team result but today Max deserved the victory because he was the strongest car out there."

Perez added that his stint on medium tyres early in the race wasn’t ideal, adding that he would have to “analyse” why he couldn’t build a lead in his first stint before switching to hard compounds.

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch as Verstappen eclipses team mate Perez to win Miami Grand Prix

He added: “I think the medium initially was really poor. Worse than expected. I think that really compromised our pace, and in all honesty, I think Max also had tremendous pace on the hard tyre, and I think I’ve got to analyse what went wrong today because we simply didn’t have the pace… and hopefully be [back] to our normal pace in Imola.

“You cannot afford a bad weekend, so a bad weekend needs to be a P2,” he added.

Verstappen leads the championship by a slim 14 points heading to Imola while Red Bull hold a sizeable 122-point lead in the constructors’ standings after another impressive one-two finish.

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