FP1: Leclerc fastest, Mercedes in the Miami mix

Henry Valantine
Charles Leclerc in FP1. Miami GP May 2022.

Charles Leclerc slows down as he heads towards Turn 8 in practice. Miami May 2022.

Charles Leclerc pipped George Russell to the top of the standings in FP1 for the Miami Grand Prix, with Mercedes appearing closer to the pace of the front-runners.

Russell came in 0.071s behind Leclerc’s benchmark of 1:31.098 in the first session of the weekend, with the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez coming in behind.

Lewis Hamilton may have been closer to the top but was held up on his flying lap attempt towards the end of the session – ending up P8 and eight tenths down.

Cars came out immediately as the green light came on at the end of the pit lane. After drivers had complimented the layout after their simulator runs, they had the chance to run around the Miami International Autodrome for the first time in person.

Russell was running through the pit lane for the first time but after receiving a penalty for an unsafe release at Imola, Esteban Ocon came out of the Alpine garage and almost collided with the Mercedes – although Russell was quick on the brakes to stop that from happening.

It was not long before the drivers were testing the limits either, with Verstappen running wide out of Turn 16 and scraping the wall, while Leclerc and Yuki Tsunoda both spun early on as they put the hammer down.

But the World Championship challengers were on the money from the start, with Leclerc pumping in a 1:33.440 around 10 minutes in, with Verstappen only 0.009s behind – and Sainz underlined Ferrari’s advantage by sitting 0.798s behind his team-mate in P3.

The times started to come down as the drivers began to gain confidence, with Leclerc the first driver to go into the 1:32s, while Russell sprang a surprise and popped his Mercedes just one-thousandth of a second behind – perhaps a sign that their new front, rear and beam wings were having the desired effect in FP1.

But one team struggling to get track time was Haas, with both Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher rooted in the garage for much of the first half of the session before they could get meaningful running under their belts.

Elsewhere, both Ferrari drivers began trading fastest laps at the top of the timesheets, while Verstappen was brought into his garage – much to the Red Bull driver’s annoyance – with an apparent issue at the rear of his RB18 that left his mechanics working rapidly to diagnose the problem.

Speaking of issues with the rear, Valtteri Bottas brought out the red flags after sliding backwards into the barriers and damaging his rear wing and diffuser in the process, losing control of his Alfa Romeo while braking at the long, gradually tightening entry at Turns 7 and 8.

This cost around 10 minutes of running for the drivers, who emerged again with 16 minutes left on the clock and the beginning of flying laps on soft tyres.

Sainz’s first effort was ended early after a snap of oversteer at Turn 4 saw him spin a full 360 degrees across the track. He avoided any contact with the wall though and was able to keep going and crawl back to the pits, with a puncture being the extent of the damage.

Verstappen went a full second faster than the Spaniard’s previous quickest time at the top on his soft-tyre run with a 1:31.277, with Alex Albon’s Williams springing a surprise by popping himself up to P2 on the leaderboard, albeit 0.577s behind his former Red Bull team-mate.

But the final laps of the session saw Leclerc and Russell pip Verstappen, with Perez only 0.026s behind his Red Bull colleague in P4, and Pierre Gasly coming in to round out the top five.




1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:31.098 26 laps
2 George Russell Mercedes 0.071s 23
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.179s 14
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull 0.203s 22
5 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 0.400s 27
6 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 0.430s 25
7 Alex Albon Williams 0.756s 20
8 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.858s 23
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1.461s 20
10 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1.494s 21
11 Lando Norris McLaren 1.517s 26
12 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1.786s 31
13 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Racing 1.922s 23
14 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1.926s 24
15 Esteban Ocon Alpine 2.319s 27
16 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 2.478s 23
17 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Racing 2.675s 13
18 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 2.945s 27
19 Mick Schumacher Haas 3.847s 20
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams 4.539s 27


Red Bull and Ferrari continue the battle in Miami

Ferrari and Red Bull will be going to battle once again this weekend in Miami.