(Motorsport-Total.com) – Miami’s new Formula 1 circuit lived up to the hype surrounding the Grand Prix, at least in the first free practice session around Hard Rock Stadium, where the Miami Dolphins usually play to football. Not only for a high speed start by Carlos Sainz, which ended lightly. But also for numerous other scenes that testified to the difficulty of the route.
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The Miami track is tough and has caused many accidents
Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) set the fastest time in 1: 31.098, followed by George Russell (Mercedes / +0.071) and Max Verstappen (+0.179). Lewis Hamilton was eighth, 0.858 seconds behind.
The front and rear wings are new (and lighter) on the Mercedes, and although the Miami track is extremely bumpy, the W13 lay on the tarmac as quietly as it had never been in the 2022 Formula 1 season. In contrast, Ferrari ( only low downforce rear wing) and Red Bull (nothing new since Imola) have not upped the ante in the development race.
“I don’t think we will make a big step forward,” says Andrew Shovlin, head of Mercedes’ local operations team. “Where we are now, it looks a lot better than in previous races. One of the big problems here seems to be the overheating of the tires. We had problems getting the tires up to temperature. Maybe this will help us here.”
1st free practice result
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The Miami street “has it all” was the first judgment of “Sky” expert Ralf Schumacher. In particular, the tight and tortuous combination of curves 14-16 induces the drivers to make mistakes, while the bravest passage is probably curve 6-8, that is the passage in front of the fake marina mocked on Twitter & Co., which is actually not one.
Bottas’ accident causes a red flag
This is where Valtteri Bottas (17th / Alfa Romeo) caused the first crash of the weekend after 35 minutes on his 14th lap. At the end of the curve, which continues to close towards the rear, the Finn slipped against the barriers – and took it upon himself: “Sorry, guys”, he radioed contrite. First analysis by Formula 1 expert Jenson Button: “he braked too late”.
The Miami track is “technically difficult”, analyzed Ralf Schumacher after the first free practice session. His conclusion: “The possible overtaking maneuvers, the tires will be difficult, as well as the temperatures. From that point of view, the track has pretty much everything you need. And yes, there are a lot of spectators there too. Perfect!”
The result still doesn’t mean much
The result must be taken with a grain of salt at this start of the weekend because the drivers and teams are far from reaching their limits on the new track. However, Sainz finished sixth despite his spin with 20 minutes remaining, which he was lucky not to crash into the wall; behind Sergio Perez (Red Bull) and Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), but ahead of Alexander Albon (Williams).
The strip of asphalt, which had to be partially patched up overnight Thursday to Friday, offered little grip for the riders at the start of the weekend. And since everyone wanted to try as much as possible, there were some misunderstandings in the heavy traffic around Hard Rock Stadium.
Many small misunderstandings between the pilots
Mick Schumacher (19th / Haas) once thwarted Daniel Ricciardo (10th / McLaren), one of several scenes that race control will study after the session. Another time it was Schumacher who thwarted Sainz. And Russell was amazed when Esteban Ocon (15th / Alpino) came out of the pits in front of him, so much so that he had to hit the brakes.
Despite everything: “It’s an interesting track,” says Christian Horner, head of the Red Bull team. “Kind of like a mixture of Jeddah and Azerbaijan. I think one key will be to control the high temperatures of the tires.”
McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl says something similar in an interview with ‘Sky’: “It’s not easy to ride together. The track has more bumps than expected, so we need to see how far we have to change the set-up. just to get more stability in the car and then also to reduce lap time “.