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Practice report

F1 Miami GP: Russell leads Mercedes 1-2 in opening practice

George Russell led a Mercedes 1-2 in first practice for Formula 1’s 2023 Miami Grand Prix, with Charles Leclerc third for Ferrari and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in fourth.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Mark Sutton

Kevin Magnussen led the pack around at the start of the early running on the medium and hard tyres – the Dane therefore establishing the first place benchmark at 1m36.852s using the yellow-walled rubber.

Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg then forged ahead on the medium and hard tyres respectively, before Lewis Hamilton ended the opening five-minutes of the one-hour session by going quickest on a 1m34.527s.

But that did not last long either as Verstappen – unlike Hamilton using the hards at this stage – went quickest on his second attempt at a first flier having gone off into the Turn 1 runoff on his first go.

The times continued to tumble as the drivers completed their initial exploratory stints, with several having off-track moments at Turn 1 and Turn 11 at the end of the long, meandering back straight, struggling for grip on the new track surface.

During this period, Nyck de Vries lost the rear of his AlphaTauri and spin around halfway through the long, tightening Turn 12 right, after which Carlos Sainz went quickest with a 1m33.823.

Hamilton then went quicker still before Verstappen, still on the same set of hards, posted a 1m32.465s that he beat with a fourth flying lap attempt to close out the opening quarter of the session on a 1m31.826s.

The pack then pitted and after a short lull in action many drivers switched to the softs for the first time, with Hulkenberg the first to do so and duly going back to the top of the times with a 1m31.392s just before the halfway mark.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images

Once that had past, Verstappen and Perez completed their first runs on the soft, with the latter beating Hulkenberg with a 1m31.054s despite having to catch a big oversteer snap going between the fast Turns 4/5 in the flowing section early in the lap around the Hard Rock Stadium.

Perez, though, could not beat Hulkenberg at this stage and put his Red Bull third behind the Haas, which was then the focus as Hulkenberg crashed at Turn 3 on a third flying lap attempt on the same set of softs.

Having only narrowly gone slower than his personal best on his second softs flier, Hulkenberg ran slightly off-line going through Turn 3 and quickly lost the rear of his car, spinning around and slamming the right side against the wall and sending debris across the track.

As Hulkenberg’s car needed recovering with its right-front wheel smashed, the session was stopped for eight minutes.

When FP1 resumed ahead of its final quarter, Verstappen returned to action on the softs and improved the first-place benchmark to a 1m30.549s – this time completing his flier without a moment in the first sector.

Leclerc then slotted into second place before he was demoted by Sainz a few minutes later, which edged Fernando Alonso down to fourth.

Heading into the final five minutes, Leclerc went for a second run on his softs and got back ahead of Sainz, still 0.253s slower than Verstappen ahead, while Sainz’s second attempt had to be abandoned very swiftly as he lost the rear of his SF-23 and had to take to the Turn 1 runoff.

As the Ferraris were preparing for a third attempt on the softs, the Mercedes cars had finally switched off the mediums – Russell losing a chunk of time early on as his team decided to take off a development steering part that was deemed too heavy based on his early feedback.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Having stayed on the mediums initially after the red flag, the Mercedes drivers had been shuffled down the order and were only kept off the rear of the field by de Vries, who had not reappeared after completing 10 laps on the hard – the least of any driver in FP1.

Hamilton led Russell around, with Leclerc also pushing again in between them, and the seven-time world champion jumped from 19th to first with a 1m30.337s.

Leclerc then jumped ahead of Verstappen with a 1m30.449s that had him sitting second, until Russell completed his softs flier to also jump from 19th to first and shade Hamilton with a 1m30.125s.

Sainz’s third soft run netted a personal best just before the session’s end, but that could not get him ahead of Verstappen’s fourth place, with the Red Bull going back to the hard tyres for the final minutes.

Pierre Gasly had a wild moment off in the Turn 3 runoff after catching a big snap going through Turn 2 late on, but ended up sixth for Alpine ahead of Alonso.

Lance Stroll followed his Aston Martin team-mate in eighth, with Hulkenberg ninth despite his early exit.

Ocon rounded out the top 10, with double Baku winner Perez only 11th and not going quicker after his first run on the softs.

Leclerc reported “slow shifts” on his in post-chequered flag in lap.

F1 Miami GP - FP1 results

Cla Driver Chassis Engine Laps Time Gap Interval
1 United Kingdom George Russell Mercedes Mercedes 18 1'30.125    
2 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 24 1'30.337 0.212 0.212
3 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari Ferrari 23 1'30.449 0.324 0.112
4 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull Red Bull 22 1'30.549 0.424 0.100
5 Spain Carlos Sainz Ferrari Ferrari 23 1'30.724 0.599 0.175
6 France Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault 20 1'31.104 0.979 0.380
7 Spain Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Mercedes 24 1'31.231 1.106 0.127
8 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes 24 1'31.337 1.212 0.106
9 Germany Nico Hulkenberg Haas Ferrari 14 1'31.392 1.267 0.055
10 France Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 27 1'31.542 1.417 0.150
11 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull Red Bull 22 1'31.566 1.441 0.024
12 Australia Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes 24 1'31.810 1.685 0.244
13 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 25 1'31.853 1.728 0.043
14 Finland Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 24 1'31.902 1.777 0.049
15 Thailand Alex Albon Williams Mercedes 25 1'31.903 1.778 0.001
16 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 23 1'31.997 1.872 0.094
17 China Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 22 1'32.134 2.009 0.137
18 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Red Bull 28 1'32.169 2.044 0.035
19 United States Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes 27 1'32.619 2.494 0.450
20 Netherlands Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri Red Bull 10 1'34.637 4.512 2.018

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