Miami F1 GP, FP1: Charles Leclerc fastest, problems at Verstappen’s Red Bull

Charles Leclerc was the fastest driver in the first free practice session of the Miami GP in Formula 1 with a time of 1:31.098s, while Max Verstappen spent a lot of time off the track due to an overheating problem. Positive note in the session due to the pace of the Mercedes, with George Russell being second fastest of the session, 0.071s behind Lercler and Verstappen still managing to be third fastest.

The first practice session was the first opportunity for riders and teams to get real information about the Miami track. A very important job for the rest of the weekend, trying to correlate the data from the simulation work done in the factories before traveling to the United States of America.
Red Bull started on the wrong foot, after stopping Max Verstappen in the pit with signs of overheating in the Red Bull Powertrains power unit, which made the Dutch driver miss part of the practice session and it was, in addition to Valtteri Bottas, who crashed , the driver who completed the fewest laps.

A positive highlight, although it still doesn’t mean much, for the pace of Mercedes, especially George Russell who ended the session with the second best time. Lewis Hamilton finished inside the top ten, which could mean a step forward for Brackley’s team in Miami. We have to wait and see what happens in the next sessions.

Ferrari did well and took the lead again in a practice session, but the initial pace, with the track still very green, on medium tires could mean that the Italian team has done its homework. They came out on top with this compound and managed to be the fastest on the soft tyres. Tires will be very important over the weekend.

Alfa Romeo will miss the data that Valtteri Bottas did not collect because he crashed during practice. Having the most experienced rider out for part of the first outing to an unfamiliar track is a huge blow to the team.

Also noteworthy is the time of Alexander Albon. The Williams driver was in the top five towards the end of practice and finished with the seventh best record, miles off Nicholas Latifi. Even though it is too early to assess anything very concrete about the progress of Albon’s Williams, the driver started the Miami GP well.

Only Red Bull, Aston Martin and AlphaTauri did not present any news in their single-seaters for the debut of the Miami GP. Mercedes was the team that presented the most news, with new front and rear wing, but McLaren brought an important update to the front suspension, in addition to new edges at the bottom. Ferrari, in terms of chassis, brought to Miami a new rear wing, as well as the evolution of the power unit for Charles Leclerc’s single-seater; Alpine fitted new rear brake drums; Williams and Alfa Romeo decided to use new air intakes at the top of the flanks and Haas preferred to bring in a new rear wing.

As the riders got used to the track, a lot of traffic generated in the narrowest part of the track was visible, which could pose problems in qualifying.

Session film:
The first free practice session of the Miami GP started well attended, as expected. There was such a rush to get the riders on track to start collecting data on the Miami track debut, that Esteban Ocon came out of the pit and was almost taken to the front by George Russell. The French Alpine pilot was investigated by the stewards for a possible “unsafe release”.
Max Verstappen was the first driver to touch the wall, at the exit of one of the corners in the narrowest part of the Florida track and at the same time, Charles Leclerc did a spinning top without consequences and Yuki Tsunoda too, but he narrowly missed hitting the protections hard. from the track.

Verstappen and Sergio Pérez started the session on soft tires and unsurprisingly both jumped to the top of the timesheets, with the Dutchman ahead, but the Mexican Red Bull rider was later beaten by Carlos Sainz. Charles Leclerc, also on medium tyres, beat the times of all the other riders, with a time of 1:33.440.
Both Mercedes drivers started out on soft tyres, but 15 minutes into the session were out of the top 10.
Carlos Sainz, still on medium tyres, moved ahead of Leclerc, but the Monegasque rider returned to the top of the timesheets, with a time of 1:32.949.

With around 20 minutes on, George Russell improved his record and moved into second place, 0.001s off Leclerc’s time, but on soft tyres. However, Pérez (on the soft tyres) went on to lead the timesheets with a time of 1:32.759.
Sebastian Vettel was warned, via a black and white flag, for crossing the entry line into the pitlane.
Max Verstappen was frustrated after being asked to enter the pits, because of a power unit overheating issue, which worried several elements in the Red Bull garage.
Carlos Sainz returned to the top of the timesheet, with a record of 1:32.443s still on medium tires and Lando Norris moved into third place, 0.172s behind the Ferrari Spaniard.

Valtteri Bottas lost control of the Alfa Romeo C42 and crashed into the circuit protections, forcing the session to be suspended. A bad start by the Finn and the team who have high expectations in Miami.
When the practice session resumed, Verstappen still hadn’t left the pits, coming back with just about 15 minutes to go. Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz spun and damaged the right front tire (soft), forcing the Spaniard to drive to the pit at a very low speed.
With 10 minutes to go in the session, Max Verstappen took the lead on the timesheet again, with a record of 1:31.350s on soft tyres, with Alexander Albon taking second place on soft tyres, 0.504s off the time of Verstappen. Russell and Lewis Hamilton followed, with Perez closing the top 5. Sainz was the fastest rider on medium tyres.
Verstappen further improved his record to 1:31.277, as did Russell who was 0.097s off the Red Bull driver’s time. Pierre Gasly took fourth place on the timesheet and Carlos Sainz improved his time, moving to fifth place, still the fastest on medium tyres.

Again without Verstappen on track, 5 minutes from the end of the session, Leclerc returned to the top of the timesheet, with 1:31.098s, followed by Russell by 0.071s. The Dutchman, who had another problem with his car, took the third fastest time of the session, followed by Pérez and Albon.
Until the end, at the top of the timesheets nothing changed, with Sergio Pérez in fourth place behind Verstappen, Russell and Leclerc, but Alex Albon’s excellent lap time was beaten by Pierre Gasly, who took fifth place, and by Carlos. Sainz. Lewis Hamilton, Kevin Magnussen and Daniel Ricciardo followed.

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