Surprise in Miami: Mercedes gains strength and George Russell snatches the best time in the second practice session. Carlos Sainz throws away his Ferrari. Max Verstappen only drives one lap. Technical problems torment the world champion.
Is this the first step on the way out of the crisis and towards a big comeback? Mercedes showed up in Miami with three new developments and also experimented with the subject of bouncing so that the silver arrow on the straights doesn't hop like a rabbit. The training Friday at the premiere in Miami should encourage the constructors' world champion. In the first practice session, George Russell just missed the best time. In the second, the 24-year-old Englishman took the lead.
Russell maneuvered his W13 with starting number 63 around the track in 1:29.938 minutes. Like his colleagues, the fourth in the World Championship used the softest compound (C4) that Pirelli delivered to Miami. The mostly flat asphalt makes life easier for Mercedes. TV recordings suggest that the Silver Arrow is much calmer on the straights and that the bouncing is only triggered by a few bumps, but then does not slow down as much.
Sainz with the next accident
Lewis Hamilton's good performance underscores his fourth place. The seven-time world champion lost 0.241 seconds to his team-mate. Hamilton has to improve, especially in the first section. He lost over four tenths to Russell in the first eight corners. In the middle sector there is a tie. Hamilton was around two tenths faster at the back.
Ferrari had a mixed session. As so often this season (with the exception of Imola), Charles Leclerc was sovereign. He placed his F1-75 in second place. His gap was just over a tenth of a second. At the end of practice, the Monegasque reported to his team that the newly installed engine "feels kind of weird" in turns 14 and 15.
The teammate caused the third accident of the season that he was at fault for, which forced race control to issue a red flag. Carlos Sainz threw his Ferrari into the barrier after 18 minutes. The mishap happened to him at the end of the 13th curve. The rear overtook the Ferrari with the starting number 55, which danced uncontrollably around its own axis and crashed. Sainz apologized to his mechanics over the radio, waiting for work.
Even with competitor Red Bull, things were anything but smooth. After overheating problems in the first practice session, the mechanics changed the gearbox in Max Verstappen's car for safety reasons before the second practice session. So the Dutchman only got involved after half an hour. The world champion showed up only briefly, but spectacularly.
There was a defect on the right rear wheel in the outlap from the pits. The brake began to smoke and easily catch fire.Verstappen radioed: "I couldn't steer. It was blocked." Lance Stroll almost hit him in the back. The Canadian just dodged in his Aston Martin. Verstappen hobbled back. There is only one round for him on the tableau. Gain of knowledge: zero. This also applies to Valtteri Bottas, who didn't struggle a meter. His Alfa mechanics did not get the car set up in time after the accident.
Sergio Perez ended up third despite slightly touching the wall at Turn 16 on his fast lap. Fernando Alonso was also among the top 5. Alpine is fast again on one lap. The question is whether the blue car will be better for the tires over the distance this time. That was worked on on Friday. Esteban Ocon was half a second slower than the team captain, which was enough for ninth position.
Aston too slow again
McLaren is also a candidate for points in Miami. This underlines Lando Norris in sixth place. They were followed by Pierre Gasly in the Alpha Tauri and Guanyu Zhou, who shouldered the program for Alfa Romeo. Kevin Magnussen rounded out the top half of the table in tenth. Mick Schumacher (15th), who was obviously slowed down by several small problems, didn't get going at all. In any case, the gap to Magnussen of around six and a half tenths is too big. There has to be more.
Aston Martin can forget about a repeat of Imola - unless chaos ensues. The car is too slow. The same goes for the Williams. Nicholas Latifi triggered the third red phase of the day. He deliberately parked his racing car and suspected a loose left rear wheel.