(Motorsport-Total.com) – Miami’s new Formula 1 circuit lived up to the hype surrounding the Grand Prix, at least in the first free practice session around Hard Rock Stadium, where the Miami Dolphins usually play football. Not just because of a high-speed start from Carlos Sainz, which ended softly. But also because of many other scenes that testified to the difficulty of the course.
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The Miami track is tough and has caused many incidents
Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) set the best time in 1:31.098 minutes, followed by George Russell (Mercedes / +0.071) and Max Verstappen (+0.179). Lewis Hamilton was eighth, 0.858 seconds behind.
The front and rear fenders are new (and lighter) on the Mercedes, and although the Miami track is extremely bumpy, the W13 lays on the tarmac as quietly as it has ever been in the 2022 season of Formula 1. By contrast, Ferrari (only low downforce rear wing) and Red Bull (nothing new since Imola) have not upped the ante in the development race.
“I don’t think we’re going to take a big step,” said Andrew Shovlin, head of Mercedes’ local operations team. “Where we are now, it looks a lot better than in previous races. One of the big issues here seems to be the overheating of the tyres. We struggled to get the tires up to temperature. Maybe it will help us here.”
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The Miami route “has it all”, was the first judgment of “Sky” expert Ralf Schumacher. In particular, the narrow and winding combination of turns 14-16 invites pilots to make mistakes, while the most courageous passage is probably turn 6-8, ie the passage in front of the mock marina on Twitter & Co., which is actually not one.
Bottas crash causes red flag
This is exactly where Valtteri Bottas (17th / Alfa Romeo) caused the first crash of the weekend after 35 minutes on his 14th lap. At the end of the curve, which keeps closing backwards, the Finn slipped into the barriers – and took it on himself: “Sorry, boys”, he contrite over the radio . First analysis by Formula 1 expert Jenson Button: “He braked too late.”
The Miami track is “technically difficult”, analyzed Ralf Schumacher after the first practice session. His conclusion: “Possible overtaking, the tires will be difficult, the temperatures too. From this point of view, the track has pretty much everything you need. And yes, there are also a lot of spectators. Perfect!”
The result doesn’t mean much yet.
The result is to be taken with a grain of salt at the start of the weekend because drivers and teams are far from having reached their limits on the new track. Still, Sainz finished sixth despite spun 20 minutes from time, which he was lucky not to hit the wall; behind Sergio Perez (Red Bull) and Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), but ahead of Alexander Albon (Williams).
The asphalt strip, which had to be partially patched overnight from Thursday to Friday, offered the drivers little grip at the start of the weekend. And because everyone wanted to test as much as possible, there were quite a few misunderstandings in the heavy traffic around Hard Rock Stadium.
Many small misunderstandings between the drivers
Mick Schumacher (19th / Haas) once hampered Daniel Ricciardo (10th / McLaren) – one of the many scenes that the race directors will study after the session. Another time, it was Schumacher who got in the way of Sainz. And Russell was amazed when Esteban Ocon (15th / Alpine) came out of the pits ahead of him, so he had to slam on the brakes.
Still: “It’s an interesting track,” said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner. “A bit like a mix of Jeddah and Azerbaijan. I think one of the keys will be controlling the high tire temperatures.”
McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl says something similar in an interview with ‘Sky’: “It’s not easy to do a lap together. The track has more bumps than expected so we have to see how much we have to change the setup, just to get more stability in the car and also to reduce the lap time.”