Thanks to the soft tires put on at the very end of the session, George Russell set the best time in the first free practice session of the Miami Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc.
Mercedes has played its card well. While the Red Bull Racing and Ferrari drivers put on the soft tires early on the completely resurfaced track of the Miami circuit, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton waited until the very last moment to make their effort. A first free practice session of the Grand Prix disputed in Florida which first saw the pilots try out the two hardest compounds brought by Pirelli. In these conditions, it was Max Verstappen who very quickly moved to the top of the time sheet, but the dust did not help the drivers to get the most out of their equipment. After a little less than half an hour of running, it was the Haas drivers who were the first to put on the soft tyres, no doubt with little fuel in the tanks to shine, and the lap times fell with Nico Hülkenberg who set a lap of 1’31”392pushing Max Verstappen to four tenths of a second.
Hülkenberg in front then in the wall
The Dutchman immediately replied with a lap of 1’31”054. But, in the process, the German driver lost control of his single-seater in turn 3 and caused the exit of the red flag. After a little less than a quarter of an hour of interruption, the green light appeared at the end of the pit line installed at the foot of Hard Rock Stadium, the den of the Miami Dolphins and in which the teams receive their guests this year. If the Ferrari drivers were the first in action, Carlos Sainz Jr and Charles Leclerc could not approach less than four tenths of a second from Max Verstappen. In the last five minutes of the session, the Mercedes drivers were therefore the last to put on the soft tires. and took full advantage of a track erased by their rivals. Lewis Hamilton was the first to take the lead. However, George Russell took the best time of the session from him in extremis in 1’30”125.
Russell frustrates Hamilton at the last moment
The Briton withdrew 212 thousandths of a second better than his seven-time world champion teammate. At the same time, Charles Leclerc climbed to third place with a tenth of a second ahead of Max Verstappen when Carlos Sainz Jr completes the Top 5 of this session. On the Alpine side, after a totally failed weekend in Baku, Pierre Gasly climbed to sixth place just under a second off the fastest time when Esteban Ocon returned half a second to his teammate, who finished tenth. The Norman was slightly ahead of a Sergio Pérez who was not necessarily comfortable in his single-seater less than a week after dominating the sprint and then the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. For his first weekend at home as a starter in F1, Logan Sargeant could not do better than 19th at the wheel of his Williams two and a half seconds behind Lewis Hamilton. The usual format being back this weekend in Miami, the drivers will have a second hour of running this Friday to refine their settings.
FORMULA 1 / MIAMI GRAND PRIX
Classification of free practice 1 – Friday May 5, 2023
1- George Russell (GBR/Mercedes) a 1’30”125
2- Lewis Hamilton (GBR / Mercedes) at 0”212
3- Charles Leclerc (MCO / Ferrari) at 0”324
4- Max Verstappen (PBS/Red Bull Racing) à 0’’424
5- Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/Ferrari) at 0”599
6- Pierre Gasly (FRA / Alpine) at 0”979
7- Fernando Alonso (ESP/Aston Martin) at 1”106
8- Lance Stroll (CAN/Aston Martin) at 1”212
9- Nico Hülkenberg (ALL/Haas) at 1”267
10- Esteban Ocon (FRA/Alpine) at 1”417