F1 – Leclerc tops opening practice for inaugural Miami Grand Prix

FIA Formula One World Championship leader Charles Leclerc set the pace in the opening practice session for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix beating Mercedes’ George Russell by seven hundredths of a second. Defending champion Max Verstappen finished third at the Miami International Autodrome ahead of Red Bull team-mate Sergio Pérez. 

Ferrari driver Leclerc jumped to the top of the timesheet early in the session with a lap of 1:34.846. That put him three tenths of a second clear of the field but then Verstappen found a solid chunk of time to put seven tenths of a second between him and title rival Leclerc. 

The new track began to improve rapidly as rubber went down and Leclerc’s team-mate, Carlos Sainz, took over at the top with a lap of 1:32.442 as Pérez slotted into third place. third.

However, Verstappen’s running was halted after just nine lap. The Dutch driver was called back tom the pits as he battled an overheating car.

Just before the halfway mark, the session itself was halted when Valtteri Bottas lost the rear of his Alfa Romeo between Turns 7 and 8. He slid backwards into the barriers damaging the rear wing. He would not take part in the rest of the session. 

When the session resumed after an eight-minute delay Verstappen rejoined the action alongside Pérez. Sainz then had an incident in Turn 4. Running on the soft compound C4 tyres , the Spaniard lost the rear of his Ferrari and slid through the run-off area. He managed to avoid the barriers but he sustained a puncture that led to him limping slowly back to the pits. 

Verstappen quickly got on the pace again and he posted a lap of 1:31.350 on soft tyres and then improved in P1 with a lap of 1:31.277.

That left him half a second clear of Williams’ Alex Albon. The Thai driver’s impressive performance was shaded in the final moments, however, as a clutch of drivers, including Leclerc, Russell and Pérez made late improvements. Albon would still finish in P7. 

One of those late improvements came from AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, who finished fifth behind Pérez and ahead of Sainz. Lewis Hamilton took his Mercedes to eighth place ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo.

2022 FIA Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 26 1:31.098 
2 George Russell Mercedes 23 1:31.169 0.071
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 14 1:31.277 0.179
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull 22 1:31.301 0.203
5 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 27 1:31.498 0.400
6 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 25 1:31.528 0.430
7 Alex Albon Williams 20 1:31.854 0.756
8 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 23 1:31.956 0.858
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas 20 1:32.559 1.461
10 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 21 1:32.592 1.494
11 Lando Norris McLaren 26 1:32.615 1.517
12 Fernando Alonso Alpine 31 1:32.884 1.786
13 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 23 1:33.020 1.922
14 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 24 1:33.024 1.926
15 Esteban Ocon Alpine 27 1:33.417 2.319
16 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 23 1:33.576 2.478
17 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 13 1:33.773 2.675
18 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 27 1:34.043 2.945
19 Mick Schumacher Haas 20 1:34.945 3.847
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams 27 1:35.637 4.539

Source : Fia