(Motorsport-Total.com) – Welcome to Miami! The first day of training on the new track in Florida, USA, was turbulent – and a surprising result. Because George Russell, in a Mercedes equipped with a new front and rear spoiler, set the fastest time of 1:29.938 minutes in second free practice, which broke down two red flags.
© Motorsport Pictures
George Russell had the best time in his second free practice session in Miami
Russell was faster on both laps than teammate Lewis Hamilton, who finished FT2 fourth by 0.241sec. For Mercedes as a whole, things seem to be in order, and not just because of the likely unrepresentative FT2 result. But the fact that the “porpoise hunting” was much less than last time in Imola gives hope.
Secondly, Charles Leclerc was the world champion (+0.106) ahead of Sergio Perez (Red Bull / +0.212). Max Verstappen (Red Bull) had technical issues in FT1 and was unable to complete one timed lap in FT2.
Behind the top four were Fernando Alonso (Albin), Lando Norris (McLaren), Pierre Gasly (Alfa Torri) and Guanez Zoo (Alfa Romeo) in the five to eight positions.
Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) was 14th, and Mick Schumacher (Haas) 15th.
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Is Mercedes performance real?
Mercedes is the only one of the top three teams to offer a major update for Miami. This seems to work: “It looks like we’re faster here,” says Hamilton. “We still have a ‘liar’. The topic is not settled. But step by step we are making the car better.”
Despite the best of times, Russell remains skeptical: “Training means nothing. Tomorrow we start over. We already knew this weekend would suit us better. So far we’ve always had tire heating issues, even in Bahrain. But this It’s the first real true Grand Prix race. That definitely plays a role.”
Why couldn’t Verstappen drive at the start of training?
When Chief Engineer Paul Monaghan was worried about Verstappen’s car in the first practice session, team boss Christian Horner joked at the command center: “Paul always seems worried. We worry when he doesn’t seem worried!”
But the joke got serious. Engineers identified a technical problem with Verstappen’s RB18 and limited it to hydraulics. During our lunch break, “we changed the gearbox and cooler. It was purely a precaution because we didn’t want to go on the track,” Horner reports.
After about half an hour, Verstappen was able to start training. But from the first round, smoke came out of his butt: “I can’t steer anymore. Nothing works anymore. I’m sorry,” he called the radio—and went back to the pits, where his mechanics were already waiting with a fire extinguisher.
Curious: Although Verstappen complained about a steering issue in the radio, which again refers to the hydraulics, a small fire arose on his right rear brake. “Terrible day for Horner. He did five reasonable laps. It was competitive. Definitely not perfect, but we know how good Max is at adapting to the new tracks.”
Were there bigger accidents on Friday?
Yeah. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) flew turn 7 in the first practice session. That was the end of Friday training for him. Shift 7 is particularly tricky because it starts fast and narrows at the end. Several off-track riders were there. After the Bottas accident, the session had to be interrupted for the time being.
There was also a red flag on the second training session. Trigger this time: Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard hit the barriers in his Ferrari at Turn 14. “Sorry guys,” he took the error live on the radio. The interruption lasted twelve minutes.
The third red flag of the day, which was launched 13 minutes before the end of the second training session, was not due to an accident. Nicholas Latifi (Williams) took off on his first straight long ride due to a technical problem. A while ago, he reported strange driving behavior at the crater radio.
Is the track around turns 14-16 perhaps too narrow?
“It’s definitely tight,” McLaren boss Andreas Seidl says in an interview with Sky. “It will be interesting to see the impact of that on the race, including whether there is a severe accordion effect in the race. But I think we have to be open about that now. It’s not an easy track. On the other hand, the drivers also love the challenge. “.
The problem is getting the grip on the perfect streak: “Once it’s a meter away from you, you won’t have any grip at all. I think it’s a combination of tire wear, which is of course right next to the perfect streak, but I also think it’s from these new bits of bitumen new asphalt. It still disintegrates, or small pebbles, which then lie next to the perfect line.”
“As a result, you don’t have any control. Now we just have to see if he improves over the next couple of days or if he remains a challenge, even in the race,” Seidl explains.
How can I see qualification on Saturday?
Qualifiers start in Miami on Saturday at 10:00 PM German time. In Germany, Sky broadcasts live and exclusively. By the way, after the sprint at Imola, the classic qualifiers are again on the agenda this time. So it’s time to try on Saturday and the grand prize on Sunday. The start is on Sunday at 21:30 German time. (Screen: Have you ever fantasized about the Miami Grand Prix right now? Be live with your Sky ticket!)
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