F1 – Verstappen Tops Sole Practice Session For Miami Grand Prix As Leclerc Spins Out

F1 – Verstappen Tops Sole Practice Session For Miami Grand Prix As Leclerc Spins Out

F1 championship leader Max Verstappen overcame early handling issues to claim top spot in free practice for the 2024 FIA Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc posted just three laps before a spin put him out of the sole practice session ahead of Sprint qualifying.

With just 60 minutes available to dial cars for the Sprint shootout, there was action right from the moment the green light went on to signal the start of the session. Haas’ Kevin Magnussen was first out on track followed by Alpine’s Ocon and the McLarens of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris.

The first representative time was posted by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton with the seven-time champion stopping the clock at 1:31.127 on Mediums compound C3 Pirelli tyres.

Verstappen then moved to the top of the order with a lap of 1:31.071, with the Dutchman’s team-mate Sergio Pérez slotting into third, two-tenths of a second back.

However, the action was halted when Leclerc spun his Ferrari in Turn 16 and ended up facing the wrong way under the flyover. Yellow flags were flown as he tried to get turned around but when it became clear that his problems prevented that, the red flags were shown and running stopped.

After an eight-minute delay the session resumed and Pérez, on Mediums, went fastest with a 1:29.632, 1.4s clear of his team-mate’s previous best.

The Mexican driver’s stay in P1 was short, however, as Carlos Sainz, in the sole remaining Ferrari, jumped to the top of the order with a Hard tyre time of 1:29.346 which he then improved by 0.015s.

Verstappen, meanwhile, was struggling. An early trip down an escape road in Turn 17 was followed by a second trip off track at the same corner and the Dutchman reported he was “front locking too quickly at the peak”.

Norris then moved to second place with a lap of 1:21.495 on hard tyres, ahead of Pérez, with Piastri in fourth on Hard tyres.

With a little over ten minutes remaining drivers began to switch to Soft tyres for qualifying simulations and Alpine’s Pierre Gasly brief hit top spot with a lap of 1:29.175s. He was soon dislodged by Sainz but the Spanish driver was then also shuffled back, this time by Mercedes’ George Russell who took P1 with a lap of 1:28.910.

Sergio Pérez then began his qualifying sim but it was almost immediately compromised when he came across a Kick Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu on a slow lap at Turn 2. However, despite the momentary slowdown the Mexican still managed to move clear with a lap of  1:28.868.

Verstappen, though, was at last beginning to get into the Miami groove and in the final moments he posted a lap of 1:28.595 to go quickest by a quarter of a second, despite again suffering a small lock-up in Turn 17.

The Dutchman’s time was followed by a slew of improvements further back, with Piastri taking second ahead of Sainz and Russell and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll who took fifth as the chequered flag came out.

Hamilton ended the session in sixth place, 0.417 off the pace, while RB’s Yuki Tsunoda took seventh ahead of the Alpines of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly and the top 10 was rounded out by Daniel Ricciardo, with the Australian just under six tenths off a second off the pace in the second RB.

2024 FIA Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:28.595 25 219.913
2 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:28.700 0.105 24 219.652
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:28.979 0.384 24 218.964
4 George Russell Mercedes 1:28.784 0.189 26 219.444
5 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Racing 1:28.868 0.273 23 219.237
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:29.012 0.417 24 218.882
7 Yuki Tsunoda RB 1:29.056 0.461 25 218.774
8 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:29.163 0.568 23 218.512
9 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:29.175 0.580 27 218.482
10 Daniel Ricciardo RB 1:29.178 0.583 27 218.475
11 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:29.189 0.594 26 218.448
12 Nico Hülkenberg Haas 1:29.314 0.719 25 218.142
13 Alexander Albon Williams 1:29.393 0.798 24 217.949
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:29.420 0.825 25 217.884
15 Lando Norris McLaren 1:29.495 0.900 21 217.701
16 Valtteri Bottas Kick Sauber 1:29.636 1.041 23 217.359
17 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:29.891 1.296 23 216.742
18 Zhou Guanyu Kick Sauber 1:31.149 2.554 24 213.751
19 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:30.023 1.428 22 216.424
20 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:32.099 3.504 3 211.546

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