FP1: Leclerc pips Russell to top opening session in Miami

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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.

116Charles LeclercFerrari1:31.09825
263George RussellMercedes1:31.169+0.071s22
31Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Rbpt1:31.277+0.179s14
411Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Rbpt1:31.301+0.203s21
510Pierre GaslyAlphatauri Rbpt1:31.498+0.400s26
655Carlos SainzFerrari1:31.528+0.430s24
723Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes1:31.854+0.756s19
844Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:31.956+0.858s22
920Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:32.559+1.461s19
103Daniel RicciardoMclaren Mercedes1:32.592+1.494s20
114Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:32.615+1.517s25
1214Fernando AlonsoAlpine Renault1:32.884+1.786s30
1324Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:33.020+1.922s22
145Sebastian VettelAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:33.024+1.926s23
1531Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:33.417+2.319s26
1618Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:33.576+2.478s22
1777Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:33.773+2.675s13
1822Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Rbpt1:34.043+2.945s26
1947Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari1:34.945+3.847s19
206Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes1:35.637+4.539s26