The Friday in F1 Miami GP resumed the old style of running with two practice sessions where teams and drivers got more time to settle in.
After the hectic Baku weekend, the F1 circus returned to normality on Friday of Miami GP with two practice sessions to settle down. Even though it was another street circuit, the drivers and teams were still happy to run in a more traditional way.
Mercedes surprised the pack by leading FP1 but it was a late quick run on an improving track which gave them that opportunity, as FP2 was more like how the weekend could be with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen ahead of the Ferrari pair.
The Dutchman had a headrest issue but it didn’t deter him as much, where he got the edge over teammate Sergio Perez who did not have a good day. The Mexican trialed few things which set him back and he seems a bit positive still despite that.
With a floor update, Ferrari were there with Red Bull even though they were few tenths away. Both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were neck and neck all-through with the Monegasque not ending it well in the barriers for the slight blip.
They were ahead of both Mercedes and Aston Martin cars, with the latter consistent with their run but the former having an up and down scene. Both Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll were thereabouts in both the F1 practice sessions.
Lewis Hamilton stationed well but George Russell did not have pace on the soft tyre. Even Hamilton had his moments as both are optimistic about their chances to be in the fight against Ferrari and or Aston Martin in Q3 and in the F1 grand prix then.
Perez: “I haven’t had the greatest of Fridays but my FP2 lap was also pretty bad. I locked up on the final corner, so there is quite a bit to come. I think together, with my driving, I am not driving really well today so I think that, if I’m able to improve my driving and get myself a bit more comfortable, it should be alright. We’ve been trying a few things with the mechanical balance, and yeah, I think we learned quite a bit, and in the long run I don’t think we managed to get a read because of the very few laps that we ended up doing out there. But generally I think we got a good baseline.”
Leclerc: “Yeah overall it’s very tricky because there’s only one line and whenever you get off line there’s really, rally poor grip and that’s basically what happened: I pushed a bit too much, I lost the rear, tried to recover from it, but I had no grip to turn the car, so that was it. No big damage – obviously the front-right is gone but apart from that no damage to the rear of the car which is the most important, so yeah, tomorrow is another day so I’m sure it will go well. Apart from that I think the feeling is pretty good over one lap; over the race we are so far behind. I mean, Red Bull is again in a league of its own, they are very, very far in front, and yeah in the race we definitely have a lot of time to find. But in quali pace, we are more or less there.”
Hamilton: “Same as every weekend… That we’re a second down. It’s a great weekend, it’s a great place to be, lots of positives, it’s just we are not particularly quick. It’s a struggle out there. We’re trying lots of different things. FP1 looked quite good, and then we come into FP2, and the true pace come out. It’s just a kick in the gut, so it’s a little bit difficult to take sometimes. But it’s okay, we will just continue to work on it, we will regroup tonight and try and see if we can make some set-up changes and get the car in a sweeter spot. Melbourne obviously was night and day difference – it was much, much nicer to drive there. Baku felt better than here also.
“I think maybe the heat or maybe just the balance we have at the moment… I’m going to stay optimistic, I’m going to stay hopeful that we can get the car in a better place tomorrow and maybe be a couple steps up. But it feels like, apart from… Last year we had hardcore bouncing and it genuinely feels like we are racing pretty much the same car – that’s the difficult thing. As I said, I am trying to stay positive with it. We are working as hard as we can, it’s just we desperately need upgrades, that’s for sure. We’ve just got to keep our head down for one more race and hopefully we can start a new path at the next race.”
Russell: “It was a similar thing last year. We were quickest on Friday and then we were knocked out in Q2 on Saturday. The car just changed a little bit. Even from the medium run in FP2, I felt strong, I was on a lap that was a good couple of tenths up, which would have put me inside the top four, and then we put the soft tyres on and the car just wasn’t working for me. I think we understand a little bit why that is and fortunately we’ve got the time to make improvements overnight. But yeah, it’s fine margins. I think if we get things right there’s no reason why we can’t be ahead of Ferrari and Aston Martin – that’s the aim. I think we’ve seen in these first four races now that it’s really tight between those three teams. If only if that was for the win and for pole position! It would be incredibly exciting. It’s good because it shows that if we get things right we can be rewarded and jump ahead of them.”
Alonso: “It was a relatively routine Friday practice for us after the different format in Baku. We’ve had more time on track to learn about the car and the tyres this weekend, despite some red flags disrupting the sessions. So far, I think the new track surface seems to be better, but we were basically just cleaning the racing line today. It seems when you move away from it, it’s very slippery – so that could make overtaking difficult. Qualifying tomorrow is important, but our strength is normally on Sunday, so we’ll see what we can do.”
The fag end of the Top 10 featured McLaren, Alpine and even Williams for that matter. But the eyes were on the former two and especially the French F1 outfit who need a clean weekend after Baku. They had an overperforming floor in Azerbaijan.
So much so that they decided not to run thinking of a legality check. And with the crashes they couldn’t get a proper idea but with a normal F1 weekend in Miami, they managed to get more data to understand it fully, while McLaren also got more time to assess.
They had points in Baku with smaller update and they showed good Friday pace in Miami too. The consistent runner Williams were up there too, but they were not hugely happy with their day with the car not suiting as they would have liked.
In the not happy zone were also the AlphaTauri pair, while the Alfa Romeo pair were so-so about their chances. The Haas duo had their sets of troubles but were still positive after their update, as Nico Hulkenberg admitted of being greedy with the FP1 crash.
Norris: “It’s been a reasonable first day in Miami, I think we made a couple of small improvements between FP1 and FP2, which was good, hopefully we can try to go further in that direction for tomorrow. As Friday goes, I’m pretty happy, I think we found a slightly better balance with the car. We are struggling in a few areas of the track, so we’ll focus on improving that, get a bit more confidence in the car and aim for Q3 in qualifying tomorrow.”
Gasly: “It was important for us to have a clean and uneventful day in the car and I think we’re in a decent position ahead of the rest of the weekend. We have a much better read on the car than we did this time last week and the aim now is to push on and execute an even better Saturday. We tried a couple of things on set-up, some worked, others not so much, but I have no real complaints at this stage and I feel we can find even more in the car in Practice tomorrow ahead of Qualifying. It’s really good to be back here in Miami at this impressive venue. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow where, of course, the minimum aim has to be reaching Q3.”
Hulkenberg: “Yeah, I just wanted a bit too much too soon, and paid the price for it as it happens or as it is on street circuits. Not ideal, it was a bit unnecessary there, but it happens unfortunately sometimes. Luckily not too much damage and we picked things up in FP2 in a good spot actually. The car actually handles and fits quite well to this place. I like the track a lot too because it’s the first time out for me in a Formula 1 car, it’s quite technical, challenging, and yeah, had a good day despite the incident in FP1. There was a big update for us today to learn about it and learn about some different runs and cross comparisons. I think it’s positive, definitely heading in the right direction. Obviously today and tonight we will exploit more with the data, analyse everything, and come up with the best package tomorrow. I think a strong result is possible but it’s tight and you have to really hit it on the head and make it stick. Gut feeling is that we have that potential and tomorrow will tell.”
Albon: “It was a tough day; I think we definitely had the car in a better window for FP2, however it’s fair to say this track doesn’t suit us as the other circuits have in previous rounds. We’ll need to try get on top of it as much as possible, seeing what we can change tonight to improve the car. I think a lot of the problems are more car characteristics then set up, but we’ll give it a go. It’s clearly very close out there with fine margins, so it’s going to be a fight.”
Tsunoda: “It was a challenging day because the pace does not seem great so far, so we need to find a solution to improve. Compared to last year, our overall performance has increased and the track surface has improved, but we are still lacking quite a bit of pace compared to our competitors. We didn’t have any big upgrades coming into this race, so we’ll need to try a different approach for tomorrow.”
Here’s how F1 Miami GP FP1 panned out
Here’s how F1 Miami GP FP2 panned out