(Miami) Driver standings leader Charles Leclerc dominated the first practice session ahead of the first edition of the Miami Formula 1 Grand Prix on Friday, then George Russell offered a glimmer of hope to Mercedes as they flew over the second session.
In the early afternoon, Leclerc covered the 19-turn, 5.41-kilometer circuit around Hard Rock Stadium in 1 minute and 31.098 seconds aboard his Ferrari. Russell placed second. Reigning world champion Max Verstappen followed in third place, ahead of his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez.
Then at the end of the afternoon, during the second session, Russell won in 1: 29.938, a tenth of a second ahead of Leclerc. Perez finished third, ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who settled for eighth in the first session.
Hamilton and Verstappen battled for the world title last season, but Mercedes struggled early in the season. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff apologized to Hamilton two weeks ago for giving him an “impossible to drive” car this season.
Russell said it was still too early to say the recent updates to the car would help him and Hamilton get back to the front of the pack in Miami.
“We’re not sure why it’s better,” admitted Russell. We suspected that the conditions would be more favorable to us here. This is the first real race in hot conditions, which is a factor to consider. The car is running well, but it’s only Friday. Don’t get carried away too quickly. »
Quebec driver Lance Stroll of Aston Martin placed 16th in each of the two sessions. Toronto’s Nicholas Latifi of Williams finished 20th and 18th.
Verstappen and Leclerc shared the honors of the first four events of the season, with two victories each.
Hamilton showed up to the circuit donning all the accessories and jewelry he had on hand in order to defy the FIA’s anti-jewelry rules. The federation argues the jewelry poses a risk in the event of an emergency response to a crash, but Hamilton has stressed he cannot remove some piercings and is prepared to miss the race if penalized .
The seven-time world champion finally submitted a document to the FIA explaining that he was going to withdraw everything possible before the first practice session. He received an exemption regarding his earrings and his nose piercing.