Championship leader Charles Leclerc edged out Mercedes driver George Russell in the opening practice session for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix with reigning champion Max Verstappen ending up third fastest.
The session started with drivers eager to get out on to the Miami International Autodrome around the Hard Rock Stadium in a bid to get used to the challenging 5.4km track. Interestingly, Red Bull and Mercedes opted to use the red-walled Pirelli tyres for their opening stints while Ferrari used a set of medium compound with both Chales Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.
As expected, Ferrari and Red Bull dictated the pace early on, but Mercedes made a very good impression with their improved car. The W13 features a raft of upgrades a new low downforce rear wing, revised front wing and beam wing.
The track evolution was significant early on with drivers eager to assess the track limits. With 25 minutes to go, Valtteri Bottas was to greedy as he hit the barriers rear-first at Turn 7. The incident brought out the red flags after the Alfa Romeo picked up a significant damage to its rear end.
Following the interruption, drivers came back on to the Miami circuit on their second fresh set of tyres. Leclerc set the fastest lap time with a 1m31.098s in the closing stages of the session on the C4 compound, beating George Russell, who caught the eye with his team’s much improved car.
Verstappen ended the session third fastest with his team mate Sergio Perez finishing in P4. While the Miami International Autodrome is expected to highlight the strengths of Red Bull’s RB18 with the long straights, the Milton Keynes based outfit had serious overheating problems that prevented Verstappen to stay on the track for longer than five consecutive laps. As a consequence, the Dutchman only managed to log in 14 laps in the opening session.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly finished the session in P5 while his team mate Yuki Tsunoda took 18th. Carlos Sainz posted the sixth fastest lap time, albeit he did so on the medium compound as he picked up a a puncture on his first hot lap on the softs courtesy of a big lock up into Turn 1.
Williams’ Thai driver Alexander Albon posted an eye-catching lap time with a 1m31.854, which was enough to finish in P7 ahead of seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
Haas had a slow start to the session, but its returnee Kevin Magnussed picked up the pace later on, recoring the ninth fastest lap time. His team mate Mick Schumacher racked up a total of 20 laps, ending the opening session 19th fastest.
McLaren had a strong start to the session, but the Woking based team was unable to improve on the second set of tyres in a way their rivals did. As a consequence, Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris ended up only 10th and 11th fastest almost a second and a half down on Leclerc’s benchmark.
Fernando Alonso recorded the highest number of lap with 31, but he was only able to snatch the 12th position on the leaderboard with his team mate Esteban Ocon a furhter three places behind. Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel ended up 14th fastest with his team mate Lance Stroll posting the 16th fastest lap.
|3||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:31.277||+0.179s||14|
|4||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:31.301||+0.203s||21|
|5||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:31.498||+0.400s||26|
|7||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||1:31.854||+0.756s||19|
|9||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:32.559||+1.461s||19|
|10||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:32.592||+1.494s||20|
|11||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:32.615||+1.517s||25|
|12||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:32.884||+1.786s||30|
|13||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:33.020||+1.922s||22|
|14||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:33.024||+1.926s||23|
|15||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:33.417||+2.319s||26|
|16||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:33.576||+2.478s||22|
|17||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:33.773||+2.675s||13|
|18||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:34.043||+2.945s||26|
|19||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:34.945||+3.847s||19|
|20||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:35.637||+4.539s||26|