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Formula 1

Leclerc's blunder and more takeaways from sole Miami GP practice

by Ben Anderson
3 min read

Max Verstappen setting the fastest time in the only practice session for the Miami Grand Prix comes as no great surprise in Formula 1 in 2024 - but the world champion didn’t enjoy an easy ride.

Verstappen reached the summit with his final flying lap of the session on the softest Pirelli (C4) tyre compound, and there were three other drivers within two tenths of the Red Bull’s pace at the end.

The RB20 did not look at ease when Verstappen was attempting to extract single-lap pace from it. He was locking the front axle under braking and losing the rear end through the high-speed sections.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, F1, Miami GP

The track was hot - climbing towards 54°C, with ambient temperatures at 29°C. The tyres were hurting and not lasting very well on a track that also requires wing levels to be kept in check to maintain straightline speed.

Verstappen should have more pace in hand. His fastest lap wasn’t clean and it was the second attempt on the same set of tyres so he didn’t extract the peak of grip.

Second-fastest Oscar Piastri will perhaps be the most satisfied driver after FP1.

Oscar Piastri, McLaren, F1, Miami GP

McLaren CEO Zak Brown described Piastri’s car as running only 50% of the substantial set of upgraded parts the team has brought to this race.

Team-mate Lando Norris has the full set of parts on his car and was only 16th in FP1 - but he didn’t set a time on the softest tyre.

Norris’s best lap was set on the hardest tyre and was within two tenths of Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari, which had set the pace on that compound.

Sainz was then third-fastest overall on the soft tyre, completing a strong session for the Ferrari driver who won’t remain with the team for 2025.

By contrast, Charles Leclerc - who is staying - was slowest of all after getting stuck on track on his fourth lap of the session and requiring a red flag stoppage to retrieve the car.

Leclerc clouted the inside kerb at Turn 16 and looped his Ferrari, which then couldn’t select reverse gear as he tried to get pointing the right way again.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, F1, Miami GP

That will be a blow to Leclerc’s chances on a sprint weekend given he now heads into sprint qualifying with basically no proper feel for the circuit or tyres.

The Mercedes drivers were nip and tuck on the medium compound early in the session, while the Red Bulls focused on long runs on that tyre, but George Russell pulled a two-tenth margin on Lewis Hamilton at the end on the soft tyre in setting the fourth-fastest time overall.

Lance Stroll was fifth for Aston Martin (Fernando Alonso didn’t run the soft tyre) and Sergio Perez was sixth in the second Red Bull. Perez would comfortably have gone quicker but for heavy traffic in the first sector on his only soft-tyre flying lap.

Both Alpines made it into the top 10 after what looked like a relatively smooth session.

Esteban Ocon was fifth among the early hard-tyre runners - only the Red Bulls, Mercedes and Zhou Guanyu’s Sauber didn’t use that tyre for the early part of FP1 - and there was only a tenth between Ocon and Pierre Gasly as the soft tyre laps came thick and fast at the end.

The Alpines were sandwiched between the RBs of Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo, who both set their fastest times on the medium compound in the closing minutes.

Miami GP practice results
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