Leclerc looked quick from the off, topping FP1 and seemingly in good form. But his team mate had a much more difficult day by comparison. Sainz had a big spin in FP1, puncturing his rear tyre for good measure which denied him the chance to set a time on the soft compound. Worse was to follow in FP2, the Spaniard carrying too much speed into the chicane and spinning off into the barriers. He completed no soft trye runs at all and will need a good final practice session if he is to take the fight to his team mate in qualifying.
It was a mixed day for Red Bull, with both drivers looking there or thereabouts in FP1. But Verstappen brushed the wall early on, and the team opted for a precautionary gearbox change between sessions. He missed the opening laps in FP2 as a result, and once he finally came out, immediately lost steering and had a fight on his hands to get his car back to the pits from where he did not re-emerge. That left Perez to gather all the data for the team, which he did in between a couple of slow-speed spins.
Mercedes brought some upgrades to Miami, including to their front and rear wings. Whatever they’ve done seems to be working, with Russell impressing in both sessions and looking comfortable from the off. Hamilton took slightly longer to get going, running flow-vis paint as the team used him to gather aero data, but has a very decent platform from which to build heading into qualifying.
Alonso wound up ‘best of the rest’ in FP2 and once again that Alpine looks decently quick. But will Lady Luck shine down on the Spaniard after she deserted him last time out in Imola? As for Ocon, he nearly came a cropper right at the start of the day as he was released into the path of Russell’s Mercedes, the second time in two race weekends he’s nearly collided with a silver car in the pit lane. He was given a reprimand for that moment by the stewards.
Tsunoda was back to his usual feisty self on the radio, telling his race engineer to leave him alone as he set about learning the new track. Gasly was slightly calmer by comparison and also the quicker of the two, solidly in the top 10 in both sessions, which bodes well for tomorrow. He fell some way off the pace in Imola but seems back to his best form here.
It was a solidly good day for McLaren, even if they seem to have dropped behind Mercedes in the pecking order. Both drivers managed a good haul of laps as they tested out some small upgrades, with Norris impressing in FP2 between red flags. Ricciardo wasn’t quite on the pace of his team mate but in such a disrupted FP2 session, could well come to the fore tomorrow. He will be wary of traffic though, nearly tangling with Magnussen twice when coming out of the pit lane.
It was a mixed day for Haas, with Magnussen looking quick when he was out on track. But the Dane had his share of incidents, with a spin to his name along with some bodywork flying off down the straight at one point, which turned out to be part of his cooling louvre. As for Schumacher, he took longer to get up to speed out there and wasn’t impressed with some of the traffic he encountered.
Bottas was the first to bring out the red flags, spinning into the barriers midway through FP1. That ended his session and as it turned out, his day, with Alfa Romeo unable to repair his car in time for the second session. That left the onus on Zhou to collect all the data for the team in FP2 and the rookie gave a good account of himself with a session-leading 24 laps and the eighth-fastest time.
Vettel spun in FP2 after the chequered flag had fallen, ending his day with his car pointing the wrong way. It was a shame as up until that point he’d been looking solidly quick, while Stroll had been more in the thick of the action. The Canadian was the first on the scene when Verstappen nearly ground to a halt out on track, quick reactions from the Aston Martin man helping to avoid a nasty collision between the two.
Mario Isola, Motorsport Director
“It was an interesting day on the challenging new Miami track, despite the red flag interruptions in each free practice session. There was good grip from the start and tyre wear here seems set to decide the strategy: on paper there seems little to choose between a one-stopper and a two-stopper, but the wear rate will tip the balance. We saw this morning the damage that could be done to a tyre by going off the track onto the abrasive run-off area, and it’s incredibly easy to make a mistake here: with the front-right tyre being the crucial one to look after. There was the high track evolution that we expected throughout the day on this new asphalt, which is likely to continue tomorrow, with the teams running mainly on the medium and soft compounds in free practice so far. The hard C2 compound is one that they know quite well already, so this could be one reason why we haven’t seen a lot of it so far. One rogue factor might still be the weather: it was incredibly hot today, but there was a high level of humidity and the risk of heavy rain seems just around the corner, especially on race day.”