The first Friday in F1 Miami GP was more or less clean apart from few moments as the drivers came up to speed with the new circuit.
The top half on Friday of F1 Miami GP was different especially due to the troubles faced by Red Bull duo during the course of the day. Max Verstappen had limited running after a brush with the wall in FP1. In FP2, after a gearbox change, he faced hydraulics issues.
As a result, Verstappen will move to Saturday with almost no running. His teammate Sergio Perez too had multiple spins in a messy run due to lack of grip and with the red flags, his high fuel running was hampered hugely putting Red Bull in a difficult spot.
At the same time, Ferrari had a decent run on Charles Leclerc’s side, but another crash for Carlos Sainz puts him under pressure again to get out of that shell. Having come into the weekend to get out of it, he gets further into the tense mode.
Red Bull’s misery, meanwhile, helped Mercedes to capture the top spot with George Russell again having a better run than Lewis Hamilton. Both drivers talked of some improvements, but for the latter, he is still trying to balance his drive with porpoising.
Verstappen: “Just not a good day, and of course these days [it is] extremely painful, especially on a track like this where you want to be out there and learn the track and get up to speed. So, I basically did four or five laps today – fast laps – so that’s not what you want. I mean, of course I’ll try to catch up, but it’s just not ideal. Everyone is of course a bit more into the running; but not only that, we have no information on my car with what we have to do, so yes, it’s extremely painful.
“That’s not an excuse for what’s happening for us today. We just have to look at ourselves and I don’t care what happens on the track with red flags. We could have done a lot more today. I think it’s more procedure things that we have to get on top of for these Friday practice sessions, but we’ll talk about it.”
Sainz: “The pace is still there, I’m pretty fast out there. Just obviously disappointed because it’s not the way you want to start a weekend, by giving the mechanics extra work. I hit the barrier probably in the worst possible place; there was no Tecpro there, I hit straight into a concrete wall which, even at the speed I was going, felt quite harsh, so the car has damage. I’ve given everyone a bit of a rough Friday night, which is not ideal. I am the first one that is not happy with the last two crashes… and I am the first one that is analysing it and trying to take conclusions from it.
“I remember going through a very similar scenario last year where I crashed a couple of times and right after them came my best run of races in Formula 1. So I know how to come out of it. I think I’m still learning a lot of this car. This car is still surprising me, I’m not going to lie, it’s still things that are, let’s say, a bit out of my control that are surprising me, and as soon as I get on top of them and learn them, I think as you saw today, I can be quick in any given lap.”
Russell: “We always knew ahead of this weekend that the conditions should suit us better, because we’ve been struggling a lot with tyre warm-up, even in Bahrain when the track was really rough, but this is the first real hot race of the season, so for sure that’s played a big factor… but it’s only Friday, not getting too carried away. I’m not too sure about the upgrades’ effect to be honest because when I got out of FP1, I was straight into the stewards’ office because of the pit lane incident with Ocon and then straight into FP2.
“I was just working with my engineers to maximise my set-up and leaving it to the boffins to work out if this was the direction to go. But I think it’s definitely been a really productive day for us and probably the most productive Friday we’ve had.” We know that it will always be there but maybe it is working at a lower range compared to where we were previously.”
Leclerc: “It was a good day. We focused on building up our pace little by little and learned quite a bit about this new track. It is challenging and really nice to drive, with my favourite part being the one from turn 11 to turn 16 in the second sector. Things went smoothly on our side and we tested everything we planned to. It looks like everyone is close together, which should make for an exciting weekend. The asphalt will spice things up. There is very high grip on the racing line and very low grip off it, which will make it difficult to overtake. It is also rather aggressive on tyres, so it will be important to manage them well throughout the race.”
It is a mixed bag behind the Top 3 teams with the likes of Alpine, McLaren, AlphaTauri, Haas and Alfa Romeo all having some good moments. The Alpine duo did not start well in FP1, but picked up pace really well in FP2 for both to be inside the Top 10.
For the other four teams, it was always the case of one driver ahead of the other especially to be in the Top 10. McLaren saw Daniel Ricciardo in Top 10 in FP2 while Lando Norris did so in FP2, AlphaTauri had Pierre Gasly in FP2 which was same with Alfa Romeo’s Guanyu Zhou.
Haas saw Kevin Magnussen in the Top 10 in both FP1 and FP2, but they had few minor issues in both the sessions to sort. For Alfa Romeo, it was a big loss on Valtteri Bottas’ side after his crash where the Finn admitted to the mistake he made.
Alonso: “It was a good day for us, learning the circuit and moving forward from the simulator laps to the real track. There are always some differences, so today was all about understanding everything quickly. It’s an interesting track to drive and I think we had a clean Friday. There is a lot of data to analyse now, and you can see that there is a lot more to come for everybody. We need to keep fine tuning the car; we look fast again this weekend and I think we are in a good position – I am optimistic.”
Bottas: “A really costly mistake from my side – it’s annoying. The best we can do is try and maximise the practice tomorrow. But the damage was unfortunate, in that with the rear impact, it damaged the exhaust and also the turbo of the engine, so that’s why it was impossible to get everything ready for FP2. So, unlucky.”
Magnussen: “It’s been an interesting day with a new track, trying to learn it quickly and get the balance dialed-in as quickly as possible. The track is changing so much because it’s brand new so it’s going to be interesting. The fast sections I’m happy with and that’s not normally what we think our strength is, so let’s see if we can try and improve the low-speed parts tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll stay in the top 10 – we’ll make some changes – but so will everyone else, so we’ll see.”
Norris: “A reasonable day, if a bit tricky. There’s a few challenges for us to overcome. First of all, the ambient temperatures are tough. The track grip is quite low when you leave the racing line, and it’s quite bumpy in places, so it’s a difficult track because of that. But despite that, we made some good progress throughout the day. Hopefully we can make another step into tomorrow and gain even more. It looks very close, between everyone, from the front to the back. Everyone is much closer than they have been lately, which is tough, but hopefully we can just squeeze a bit more performance. I think every little bit of time can be the difference between a few positions. It’s going to be a tight qualifying, so every little thing we can get out of the car into tomorrow will be helpful.”
Albon: “I think today has been our best Friday of the season so far. It may not look like it, especially as my final runs in FP2 were a bit scrappy and we didn’t get a representative lap in, but I’m happy with how the car is feeling and performing. We’ll do a bit more fine tuning tonight now that we have some data from the practice sessions, and hopefully things will be looking positive heading into FP3 and Qualifying tomorrow.”
Here’s how FP1 panned out in F1 Miami GP
Here’s how FP2 panned out in F1 Miami GP