Mercedes top, Verstappen & Sainz flop!

( – Welcome to Miami! The first training day on the new course in Florida, USA, was turbulent – and brought a surprising result. Because George Russell, in a Mercedes equipped with a new front and rear wing, set the fastest time of 1: 29.938 minutes in the second free practice, which was disrupted by two red flags.

George Russell secured the best time in the second free practice session in Miami



Russell was faster in both sessions than teammate Lewis Hamilton, who finished FT2 in fourth place, 0.241 seconds left. For Mercedes as a whole, it seems to be moving forward, and not just because of the probably unrepresentative FT2 result. But the fact that the “guinea pig” was significantly smaller than at the end of Imola gives hope.

Second was the World Championship Charles Leclerc (+0.106) ahead of Sergio Perez (Red Bull / +0.212). Max Verstappen (Red Bull) experienced technical difficulties in FT1 and was unable to complete a single timed lap in FT2.

Behind the top 4 were Fernando Alonso (Alpin), Lando Norris (McLaren), Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) and Guanyz Zhou (Alfa Romeo) in places five to eight.

Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) was 14th, Mick Schumacher (Haas) 15th.

On the subject:
Result 2. free training
F1 live ticker: News and reactions from the fold
F1 livestream: training analysis from kl. 02.30

Is Mercedes’ performance genuine?

Mercedes is the only one of the top three teams to bring a major update to Miami. It seems to work: “It seems like we’re faster here,” Hamilton says. “We still have ‘bounce’. The issue is not settled. But step by step we make the car better.”

Despite the best time, Russell remains skeptical: “Training means nothing. Tomorrow we start over. We knew in advance that this weekend would suit us better. So far, we have always had problems warming up the tires, even in Bahrain. But this is the first real heat Grand Prix. It certainly plays a role. “

Why could Verstappen not run at the beginning of the training?

When Chief Engineer Paul Monaghan worried about Verstappen’s car in the first training session, team leader Christian Horner joked at the command post: “Paul always looks worried. We worry when he does not look worried!”

But the joke became serious. The engineers identified a technical problem with Verstappen’s RB18 and narrowed it down to hydraulics. During the lunch break, we changed gearbox and radiator. It was solely a safety precaution because we did not want to run on the track, “says Horner.

After about half an hour, Verstappen was able to start training. But right from the first run, smoke came out of his butt: “I can not control anymore. Nothing works anymore. Sorry,” he radioed – and drove back to the pit, where his mechanics were already waiting with a fire extinguisher.

Curious: Although Verstappen complained about a steering problem on the radio, which in turn pointed to the hydraulics, a small fire developed on his right rear brake. “A terrible day for Horner. He drove five sensible laps. They were competitive. Not ideal for sure, but we know how good Max is at adapting to new lanes.”

Were there any major crashes last Friday?

Yes. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) flew off in turn 7 in the first training session. That was the end of Friday’s training for him. Turn 7 is considered to be particularly difficult because it starts fast and tightens towards the end. Several riders were off the track there. After the Bottas accident, the session had to be interrupted for the time being.

There was also a red flag in the second workout. Trigger this time: Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard slammed his Ferrari into the barriers at turn 14. “Sorry, guys,” he took the mistake directly on the pit radio. The interruption lasted for twelve minutes.

The third red flag of the day, which was unleashed 13 minutes before the end of the second training session, was not caused by an accident. Nicholas Latifi (Williams) rolled out on the first long straight with a technical problem. Shortly before, he had reported strange driving behavior on the pit radio.

Is the path around turns 14-16 perhaps too narrow?

“It’s definitely damn tight,” McLaren team manager Andreas Seidl said in an interview with ‘Sky’. “It will be interesting to see what impact it has on the race, including whether there is an extreme accordion effect in the race. But I think we need to be open about it now. It is not an easy track. On the other hand, they have drivers it also loves the challenge. “

The problem is more the grip from the ideal line: “As soon as you are a meter away, you have no grip at all. I think it’s a combination of tire wear, which of course is next to the ideal line, but I also think it’s from this new asphalt that still loosens small bitumen pieces, or pebbles, which then lie next to the ideal line. “

“As a result, you have zero grip. Now we just have to see if it gets better over the next two days, or if it remains a challenge, even during the race,” Seidl explains.

How can I see the qualifier on Saturday?

Qualifying in Miami starts on Saturday at 22.00 German time. In Germany, Sky broadcasts live and exclusively. After the sprint in Imola, there is also this time a classic qualification on the agenda. So time trial on Saturday and Grand Prix on Sunday. Start is Sunday at 21.30 German time. (DISPLAY: Want the Miami Grand Prix now? Be there with your Sky ticket!)

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