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Formula 1 Miami GP

F1 Miami GP: Verstappen overcomes initial struggles to lead FP1

Max Verstappen overcame a series of Miami Grand Prix practice difficulties to secure the fastest time, the Red Bull Formula 1 driver's time just a tenth clear of Oscar Piastri.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20

The championship leader went to the top of the order early on in the session prior to a red-flag period, but struggled upon the resumption of the session as his RB20 appeared to lack balance in the majority of the session.

A lock-up at Turn 17 had nixed one lap and a miscue at the Turn 14-15 chicane cost another attempt at putting a time on the board, leaving the Dutchman languishing in 19th overall as the rest of the field started to improve.

Although he had to face a gust of wind on his first effort with softs, which forced its abandonment, Verstappen rallied and placed his Red Bull on top of the pile with a 1m28.595s to shake off the earlier worries.

Charles Leclerc's early spin at Turn 16 produced a red flag, as the circuit proved too narrow for him to immediately rotate his car the right way around. Unable to engage reverse a second time to complete his pirouette due to an overheated clutch, Leclerc had to abandon ship and jump out of his car.

This produced a break in proceedings of about five minutes as Leclerc's Ferrari was wheeled off the circuit, before the teams flocked back to the track at the green flag to recover valuable running time.

Sergio Perez vaulted to the top of the order with a 1m29.632s on used mediums, closely accosted on the timing boards by the two Mercedes cars sporting new floors, but the Mexican was prised off his perch by Carlos Sainz's 1m29.346s lap on hard tyres as the session's first half-hour had elapsed.

Sainz then raised the bar slightly with a 1m29.331s, which remained the headliner through the next 15 minutes of the session as the focus shifted among the field towards collecting longer-run data. Lando Norris moved in between Sainz and Perez in the order with a time just 0.164s shy of his former McLaren team-mate's effort, after working through a front suspension issue early in the session.

Over the final 10 minutes, soft-tyre running entered the session's lexicon and a series of drivers bolted on the Pirelli C4 compound for qualifying simulations. Pierre Gasly used them to produce a surprise and parked his improved and no-longer-overweight Alpine on top, setting a 1m29.175s.

Sainz reclaimed the fastest time with a 1m28.979s, but this stint was brief as George Russell placed his Mercedes atop the order, having set a 1m28.910s. 

Perez then put together a 1m28.869s to move to the top, despite losing time in the opening sector from an encounter with a slow Sauber, but this was subsequently beaten by Verstappen's timesheet-topping tour as the championship leader eventually stitched together a cohesive lap.

Piastri then interrupted the rapidly changing order behind Verstappen, a tenth shy of the best lap as the Australian mugged Sainz at the end of the session by just 0.011s.

Russell grabbed fourth overall, while Lance Stroll crept into fifth at the end of the session to resume Aston Martin's presence among the frontrunners. Perez slipped to sixth among those late laps, over a tenth clear of Lewis Hamilton.

Yuki Tsunoda dragged his RB, sporting a special kaleidoscopic livery for the Miami weekend, up to eighth ahead of the Alpine duo of Esteban Ocon and Gasly, who took their improved A524s into the top 10.

United States Miami Grand Prix - Free Practice

Cla Driver # Chassis Engine Laps Time Interval km/h
1 Netherlands M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1 Red Bull Red Bull 25


2 Australia O. Piastri McLaren 81 McLaren Mercedes 24



0.105 219.652
3 Spain C. Sainz Ferrari 55 Ferrari Ferrari 24



0.279 218.964
4 United Kingdom G. Russell Mercedes 63 Mercedes Mercedes 26



5 Mexico S. Perez Red Bull Racing 11 Red Bull Red Bull 23



0.084 219.237
6 United Kingdom L. Hamilton Mercedes 44 Mercedes Mercedes 24



0.144 218.882
7 Japan Y. Tsunoda RB 22 RB Red Bull 25



0.044 218.774
9 France E. Ocon Alpine 31 Alpine Renault 23



0.107 218.512
10 France P. Gasly Alpine 10 Alpine Renault 27



0.012 218.482
11 Australia D. Ricciardo RB 3 RB Red Bull 27



0.003 218.475

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