Miami GP 2023

MAY 5, 2023

Friday Report - Verstappen fastest, Leclerc crashes

Max Verstappen
© Red Bull

By Luis Vasconcelos

Max Verstappen reestablished his authority over the Formula One field by setting the fastest time during the Miami Grand Prix's FP2 session, the Dutch driver being the only to lap under the 1m28s bracket and establishing a new unofficial track record in the process. Although his session was slightly disrupted by a headrest issue - a repeat of what had affected him during one of the sessions in Baku last week - the two-times World Champion put a considerable gap between himself and second fastest Carlos Sainz, with 0.4s between the two showing how much pace the Red Bull driver had.

However, now with the old floor on his SF-23, Charles Leclerc would have been able to be within 0.1s of his rival, had he not locked up going into Turn 17 at the end of what would have been his fastest lap. Given the Monegasque wasn't using the new floor, that he believed was a good step forward after running it in FP1, Ferrari looks to be closer to Red Bull than in the first three Grand Prix of the season, but not yet as competitive as last week in Baku. But Leclerc ended the session crashing in Turn 8, when a wild oversteer moment was corrected but put him in the very dirty run off area, the Monegasque preferring to crash head on - damaging just the right front suspension, the steering and the front wing, rather than trying to save it and ending up hitting the wall sideways, as that was likely to cause damage to the gearbox.

Sainz, using the new floor, improved a lot from the earlier session but was still lacking confidence in the car in the first and third sector, losing all his lap time to Verstappen in those two sectors. His Red Bull counterpart, Sérgio Pérez, made a big step forward from the first session, cutting the gap Verstappen in half, but was still half a second away from his team mate, a gap too big for a title candidate and that allowed both Ferraris to beat the Mexican.

After a promising FP1 both Mercedes couldn't improve as much as their rivals, but the team continues to do a very unique run plan, with Russell essentially missing on the low fuel, soft tyre runs and ending the session in P15, while Hamilton was only 7th quickest but a staggering 0.9s slower than Verstappen, beaten by Alonso and Norris.

For Aston Martin this was a more encouraging session, as Alonso was 5th quickest but unable to get close to the Ferrari duo, while Stroll was 8th fastest, the green cars seeming as competitive as in Baku but not as efficient as they were in the first three races of the season.

Lando Norris showed McLaren's potential as he led the session for quite a long time, before slipping to 6th place, but was encouraged as, for the first time this year he was in the mix with the Aston Martin and the faster of the two Mercedes.

Esteban Ocon and Alex Albon completed the top ten, ahead of Gasly, with Alpine confirming the progress made with the new upgrade introduced in Baku, while the Thai driver confirmed the Williams FW45 is quick in most circuits, a big step forward from the last few years.

Leclerc's accident spoiled everyone's plans to do long runs, but until the red flag Verstappen was way quicker than his rivals, an ominous sign for Sunday's race.