Miami GP data: Ferrari sneak up on Red Bull without upgrades as McLaren hype deflates

Pablo Hidalgo
Miami Grand Prix data insights

Ferrari closed the gap on Red Bull, pulling clear of McLaren's '2.0' car

Ferrari closed the gap on Red Bull in qualifying, pulling clear of McLaren’s upgraded MCL38 with the Sprint race data indicating Ferrari are P2 to Max Verstappen in race pace.

It was a Saturday in Miami in which McLaren were pondering their upgrades while Mercedes recovered from Friday’s disappointments.


Ferrari closes the gap to Red Bull and escapes from McLaren’s ‘2.0’ car

Everything seemed to indicate that McLaren could be the pole contender on Saturday in Miami after having the best pace in the Sprint Quali. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Red Bull returned to its dominant position with Max Verstappen taking yet another pole position for the season, albeit a hard-fought one. Ferrari took advantage of the high track temperatures to make the soft tyre work in the optimum window.

Fastest lap telemetry Miami

The Italian team was behind Red Bull in all three sectors, but just a few thousandths of a second off the pace. They have made a noticeable step forward for the important phase of the weekend.

Ideal lap time Q Miami

Best sector teams Q Miami

Mercedes takes a small step forward after a difficult start to the weekend

After a disappointing start to the weekend, Mercedes is back to its natural position, although still far behind McLaren and Ferrari.

In qualifying, they saved the day with a car that is totally unpredictable and varies in performance from session to session. They improved by three-tenths of a second compared to the Sprint Quali, although of course this could be due to the jump between the medium and the soft tyre.

Speed comparison Russell Miami

Perhaps that is the key to the small jump in performance. That the soft tyre was what the Silver Arrows needed to find the grip they didn’t find in the Sprint Qualifying, because remember that both cars were eliminated before SQ3, the only one where the soft set could be used freely.

Fastest lap top speed Q Miami

Fernando Alonso and Daniel Ricciardo: big disappointments

Daniel Ricciardo by his deeds and Fernando Alonso by his words made us expect much more from them ahead of qualifying.

The Aussie materialised a surprise, albeit deserved, P4 in the Sprint Quali but is now back in a very disappointing position with a P18 for the race. With that he loses any chance of fighting for points and with his teammate.

Similar situation for the Spaniard. The Aston Martin driver commented that he was completely over the Sprint format, that he was focused on qualifying and the race on Sunday.

But his words were not reflected on the track. It’s a rare occurrence, but Lance Stroll has clearly outperformed him so far this weekend. The car hasn’t helped, as it was the worst-performing car on the grid in Miami compared to 2023.

Team Evolution Q Miami


A quick glance at the race pace boxplot shows us several curiosities: some that have been reflected on the track and others that have gone almost unnoticed.

Firstly, the great pace and consistency of times from both Ferraris, especially that of Charles Leclerc who has achieved a very promising average pace for Sunday where he’ll be out to keep other Red Bull of Sergio Perez behind.

On the other hand, the importance of not having traffic in Miami. The DRS effect is crucial on a circuit where it is very difficult to overtake as happened with Carlos Sainz, Oscar Piastri and both McLarens. Having a fast car does not mean you will end up in front of a slower car.

One of the unknowns, although it was to be expected, was tyre degradation. There was practically none, with drivers even being able to push at the end of the Sprint race.

However, looking at the data, Mercedes was the team that suffered the most in this respect.

Tyre Wear Assessment Q Miami

In the fight for the Sprint race victory, Verstappen was unchallenged at all times. However, he didn’t manage to escape from Leclerc, who finished just 2.5s behind the Dutchman.

The same for the Ferrari driver but with respect to Perez. The Mexican driver failed to get close to Leclerc throughout the race and finished two seconds behind him.

Race pace comparison Miami

Ricciardo saved a well-deserved fourth position after a great defence against Sainz and Piastri.

The Australian is finally comfortable with the car, RB’s improvements seem to work and despite being one of the drivers with less top speed in the Sprint Qualy – remember there is Parc Fermé – he managed to defend what seemed impossible at the beginning.

This defence of Ricciardo deprived Sainz and Piastri of showing their true potential and assessing where the real gap between McLaren and Ferrari lies. Even so, it seems that in this first long run of the weekend the Italian team had the upper hand.

However, with Norris out at Turn 1, we have not been able to see the McLaren 2.0 in action and analyse its race pace. We’ll have to wait a few more hours to find out.

Race pace comparison Miami

Mean lap time S Miami

Opinion on penalties

There is no data or logical sense that can explain or break down the application of the stewards’ penalties this season. It is true that it is a debate and an issue that has been open for years, but only 6 rounds into the 2024 season and it is already a worrying and blatant issue, not an isolated case.

Especially as we see incidents on track of a certain similarity, with disparate penalties depending on who is behind the wheel. And sadly, it looks like there will be no firm and early solution.

The same stewards for the whole season, as in tennis with the chair umpires? A complete article-by-article review of the whole rulebook? Both?

Surely, it is far preferable to talk about what happened on the track than about this topic, but for the good of the sport and the show we must demand changes.

Read next: Winners and losers from the 2024 Miami Grand Prix qualifying