Miami Grand Prix: Max Verstappen takes P1 as five constructors fill top five places

Henry Valantine
Max Verstappen in the Miami Grand Prix paddock.

Max Verstappen went fastest in FP1 for the Miami Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen took top spot in FP1 for the Miami Grand Prix, edging clear of Oscar Piastri, Carlos Sainz, George Russell and Lance Stroll as five constructors filled the top five places.

An early red flag had halted the session following a spin for Charles Leclerc that left him stranded on the exit of Turn 16, but thankfully for himself and Ferrari, there was no damage caused ahead of Sprint qualifying.

Max Verstappen takes top spot in scorching hot FP1 session in Miami

After the start of the session, McLaren driver Lando Norris rolled out of his garage with his heavily-upgraded MCL38 – the team bringing a whopping 10 new parts listed for the weekend – and the Briton immediately said: “Something doesn’t feel right. It’s much harder to turn right than it is left, it’s really easy to turn left and really hard to turn right.”

Sweeping changes to the car have been made, including a brand-new floor, front wing, suspension and more, but it was straight back to the pits for Norris, while Oscar Piastri reported “quite heavy” steering on his car in a potential sign of teething troubles on the new-spec McLaren – though the team confirmed ‘asymmetric power steering assistance’ was the culprit rather than anything upgrade-related.

Elsewhere, Charles Leclerc suffered a spin out of Turn 16 and, due to the narrow exit onto the back straight, he struggled for quite some time to spin his car back around again – with the turning circle in a Formula 1 car not quite the same as a black cab in London.

This brought out the red flag due to the Ferrari driver being stuck, and his clutch reportedly overheating as he looked to get going again, costing critical running time with such a short period to prepare for Sprint qualifying later on Friday.

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The action was back underway within seven minutes or so as Leclerc’s car was removed from the circuit, and the drivers were out again to clock as many laps as possible to optimise their set-ups.

On the medium tyres, Lewis Hamilton went a tenth slower than front-running Sergio Perez at the halfway point of the session, and nine thousandths faster than team-mate George Russell as the Mercedes duo appeared close to the early pace.

Carlos Sainz topped it on the hard tyres on a 1:29.331, but Max Verstappen struggled with front locking as he appeared to focus on race set-up by going on a lengthy stint on the medium tyres for much of the session.

McLaren confirmed Norris’ issue but that did not stop him from going 0.164s behind Sainz in second place on hard tyres, with the team adding they will look to fix his steering before Sprint qualifying later in the day.

But despite track temperatures being north of 50°C, the soft tyres were bolted on for the final 10 minutes for a flurry of qualifying simulations as the drivers attempted to show their one-lap pace.

Sainz dropped into the 1:28s first before Russell went marginally quicker on a 1:28.910.

Verstappen reported the tyres were “like driving on egg shells” due to the temperature being “way too hot” around the Miami International Autodrome.

But once the soft tyres were on, he was able to unlock the pace he required for a flying lap and clocked a 1:28.595, edging out Piastri by a tenth.

Miami Grand Prix 2024: FP1 classification

1 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull 1:28.595
2 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +0.105
3 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +0.116
4 George RUSSELL Mercedes +0.189
5 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +0.222
6 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull +0.273
7 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +0.417
8 Yuki TSUNODA RB +0.461
9 Esteban OCON Alpine +0.568
10 Pierre GASLY Alpine +0.580
11 Daniel RICCIARDO RB +0.583
12 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas +0.594
13 Nico HULKENBERG Haas +0.719
14 Alexander ALBON Williams +0.798
15 Guanyu ZHOU Kick Sauber +0.850
16 Lando NORRIS McLaren +0.900
17 Valtteri BOTTAS Kick Sauber +1.041
18 Logan SARGEANT Williams +1.296
19 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +1.428
20 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +3.504

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