Top Mercedes, flop Verstappen & Sainz!

( – Welcome to Miami! The first day of training at the new track in Florida, USA was eventful – and yielded a surprising result. Because George Russell, driving a Mercedes equipped with a new front and rear wing, set the best time in 1:29.938 minutes during the second free practice, disturbed by two red flags.

George Russell set the fastest time in the second free practice session in Miami


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Russell was quicker in both sessions than teammate Lewis Hamilton, who finished fourth in FT2, by 0.241 seconds. For Mercedes as a whole, things appear to be on the upswing, and not just because of the likely unrepresentative FT2 result. But the fact that the “porpoising” was significantly less than last time in Imola gives hope.

Second, world championship leader Charles Leclerc (+0.106) ahead of Sergio Perez (Red Bull / +0.212). Max Verstappen (Red Bull) suffered technical issues in FT1 and was unable to complete a single timed lap in FT2.

Behind the top 4 were Fernando Alonso (Alpine), Lando Norris (McLaren), Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) and Guanyz Zhou (Alfa Romeo) in positions five to eight.

Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) finished 14th, Mick Schumacher (Haas) 15th.

On the subject :
Result 2nd free practice
F1 live ticker: News and reactions from the paddock
F1 live stream: training analysis from 2.30am

Are Mercedes’ performances real?

Mercedes is the only one of the top three teams to bring a major update to Miami. It seems to be working: “It seems like we’re faster here,” says Hamilton. “We still have ‘rebounds’. The subject is not settled. But step by step we are improving the car.”

Despite the best time, Russell remains skeptical: “Training means nothing. Tomorrow we start again. We knew in advance that this weekend would suit us better. even in Bahrain. But this is the first real qualifying Grand Prix. It certainly plays a role.”

Why couldn’t Verstappen drive at the start of the tests?

When chief engineer Paul Monaghan worried about Verstappen’s car in the first practice session, team boss Christian Horner joked in command: “Paul still looks worried. We we worry when he doesn’t look worried!”

But the joke got serious. Engineers identified a technical problem with Verstappen’s RB18 and narrowed it down to hydraulics. During the lunch break, “we changed the gearbox and the cooler. It was purely as a precaution because we didn’t want to drive on the track,” reports Horner.

After about half an hour, Verstappen was able to start training. But from the first run, smoke escaped from his rear: “I can no longer lead. Nothing works anymore. fire extinguisher.

Curious: Although Verstappen complained of a steering problem on the radio, which again indicated the hydraulics, a small fire developed on his right rear brake. “A terrible day for Horner. He did a reasonable five laps. They were competitive. Not ideal, that’s for sure, but we know how good Max is at adapting to new tracks.”

Were there any bigger crashes on Friday?

Yes. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) took off in turn 7 of the first practice session. It was the end of Friday practice for him. Turn 7 is considered particularly tricky as it starts fast and tightens up towards the end. Several runners were off track there. After Bottas’ accident, the session had to be temporarily interrupted.

There was also a red flag in the second practice session. Trigger this time: Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard slammed his Ferrari into the barriers at Turn 14. “Sorry, guys,” he took the error straight to the pit radio. The interruption lasted twelve minutes.

The third red flag of the day, triggered 13 minutes before the end of the second practice session, was not caused by an accident. Nicholas Latifi (Williams) rolled into the first long straight with a technical problem. Shortly before, he had reported strange driving behavior on the pit radio.

Maybe the track around turns 14-16 is too narrow?

“It’s really, really tight,” McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl said in an interview with “Sky”. “It will be interesting to see what impact this will have on the race, including if there is an extreme accordion effect in the race. But I think we have to be open about it now. It is not a easy track. On the other hand, the riders also love the challenge.”

The problem is rather the grip outside the ideal line: “As soon as we are one meter away, we have no more grip at all. I think it’s a combination of tire wear, which of course is next to the ideal line, but I also think it’s from this new asphalt that little bits of bitumen are still coming off, or small pebbles, which are then next to the ideal line.”

“As a result, you have no grip. Now we just have to see if it will get better over the next two days or if it will remain a challenge even in the race,” says Seidl.

How can I see qualifying on Saturday?

Qualifying in Miami begins on Saturday at 22:00 German time. In Germany, Sky broadcasts live and exclusively. Moreover, after the Imola sprint, a classic qualification is once again on the program. So time trial on Saturday and Grand Prix on Sunday. Departure is on Sunday at 9.30 p.m. German time. (DISPLAY: Fancy taking part in the Miami Grand Prix now? Be there live with your Sky ticket!)

Reload page: This training report is continuously updated. It is only when this notice is gone that no further updates are planned.

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