Miami GP 2023

MAY 6, 2023

Practice 3 Report - Verstappen fastest

Max Verstappen, Miami GP 2023
© Red Bull

By Luis Vasconcelos

Max Verstappen extended his lead over the rest of the field after establishing a new unofficial track record during FP3 for the Miami Grand Prix. With Charles Leclerc again in 2nd place, Verstappen put 0.4s between himself and his nearest rival, his speed in the first, fast flowing sector making the difference between the Dutch driver and the rest of the field. With eight teams using soft tyres only, this session was a real preparation for qualifying - the degradation level of this compound makes it an unwanted tyre for the race - and on the evidence of FP3 it will take something extraordinary to prevent Verstappen to get pole position.

In spite of making considerable progress, Sérgio Pérez remained half a second off his team mate’s pace and, worryingly for the Mexican, the two Ferrari are running at his pace now that Sainz has regained the confidence he was lacking in Baku. The gap between the three was below 0.2s with Leclerc ahead of the Red Bull driver after a great last dash lap. Now with both SF-23 using the new floor, Ferrari seems to clearly be the second fastest team in Miami, but neither Aston Martin nor Mercedes had good sessions this Saturday, so there’s still the possibility they’ll come back stronger in qualifying.

After a promising start, with a one-two in FP1, Mercedes has been having a terrible time. With the W14 bouncing too much in FP2 the team had no option but to raise it a couple of millimeters and the consequence was loss of cornering speed in the first sector. With top speed also suffering, Russell was only 10th and Hamilton 13th, so the Mercedes team has a lot of work to do to improve for qualifying.

Aston Martin didn’t get any driver into the top ten, as the team tried different downforce levels to try and find the best compromise without much success. Alonso was only 12th quickest with Stroll two positions behind, opening the doors of the top ten to unusual guests.

Alpine looked competitive throughout the session, Gasly and Ocon running with Medium compound tyres in the first 40 minutes and being already quick. On the faster tyre the French duo confirmed the good speed of the A523, with Ocon beating his team mate in the battle for P5.

Valtteti Bottas confirmed his good relationship with this track by setting the 7th quickest time, quite a few minutes before the end of the session, while others improved in the last five minutes, as grip levels were improving all the time, putting Alfa Romeo in the battle to get to Q3. Nico Hulkenberg and Alex Albon also beat Russell to get inside the top ten but the gap between 5th and 14th was just 0.3s, so anything can happen in qualifying.

McLaren and AlphaTauri went backwards from Friday, the two cars seeming extremely difficult to drive, Tsunoda complaining of massive oversteer while Norris struggled with braking, twice going off the track, a disappointment for the young British driver after being so competitive in FP2.