- Karla Uriarte
Max Verstappen sets the fastest-ever lap around Miami International Autodome during practice
World champion Max Verstappen set the fastest-ever lap around the 3.36-mile track on the opening day of practice at the Miami International Autodrome.
The Red Bull driver recorded a time of 1m27.930s, which was over a second quicker than last year’s pole position time set by Charles Leclerc. Verstappen's lap was in hot and sunny conditions, and it helped him top the timesheets after two hours of busy on-track action ahead of Sunday’s race.
The first practice session began at 2 pm local time and drivers were able to get used to the new track surface. However, Nyck de Vries spun his AlphaTauri backward into the wall at Turn 12, causing the first incident of the day. Haas' Nico Hülkenberg was one of the first drivers to switch to the soft tires and moved to the top of the timesheets. However, he was responsible for causing the first red flag stoppage of the weekend when he hit the wall exiting Turn 3.
Apart from the on-track action, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill became Pierre Gasly's performance trainer for the day and sent him a good luck message during the session. Fans enjoyed two hours of busy Formula 1 action at the Miami International Autodrome.
In the second session of practice, both Mercedes drivers emerged onto the track on the soft compound Pirelli, with George Russell finishing in P1, just 0.212 seconds ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc finished in third place in FP1 and continued to show impressive pace at the start of FP2. However, his day ended early when he struck the wall on the outside of Turn 8 with just ten minutes of FP2 remaining. This caused another brief red flag, every driver rushed out of the pits to try and improve their lap time on their final run.
In the final classification of FP2, Max Verstappen finished fastest ahead of the two Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, followed by the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez. Aston Martin had another good day, with both of their drivers finishing in the top ten. Unfortunately, local hero Logan Sargeant was the slowest of the runners in his Williams in FP2 and 19th in the earlier session.
Notably, American film director Joseph Kosinski was among the spectators taking a special interest in the practice session as research for his upcoming Formula 1 movie, which will start filming later this year. The second session of practice was a frantic one, with multiple incidents and drivers pushing hard to improve their lap times. The teams and drivers will have to analyze their performance and make the necessary adjustments before the crucial qualifying session on Saturday.