F1 News: George Russell goes fastest for Mercedes in Miami FP1

Jaden Diaz
5 May, 2023

The Miami Grand Prix doesn’t offer many surprises in terms of updates, with most of the teams remaining ‘stagnant’, except Ferrari and Haas, who begin their development program right from the first American round.

Something that was not known going into Miami was that the track would be resurfaced, making FP1 crucial for tweaking set-up and evaluating the roughness and grip offered by the new asphalt.

Temperatures reached 50° in the first practice session, a factor that will affect degradation in the race significantly.

Miami Updates: New floor for Ferrari and Haas.

As if to work in synergy, the Maranello and American teams began their development program by introducing a new fund, revised in several parts, on the American track. T

The engineers at Ferrari have revised the front and the side pavement – especially under the floor in the area of ​​the throat diffuser, to try and reduce the pressure drops, sealing the lower part of the SF-23 to increase the effect of the Venturi Channels.

In turn, this would increase the load and, at the same time, improve the overall efficiency of this machine, which has not yet reached– according to its engineers – its maximum potential.

There are few updates of note elsewhere, with the exception of Alfa Romeo – who introduced a new beam wing.

Aston Martin has modified its cooling configuration placed on the bonnet, whilst AlphaTauri brings a new front wing and different support to the mirrors above the AT04’s sidepods.

Limited grip in FP1, useful for adapting to the track and studying the right set-up

In this first free practice session, Ferrari takes the time to analyze the new floor, starting the program with two different specifications. 

Charles Leclerc will immediately use the new floor, while Carlos Sainz will carry out his first run with the design used in Australia and in Baku.

The novelty is available to both drivers, a sign that in Maranello, they are convinced of the progress of this important element – which they expect to see translated on track.

The weekend didn’t start in the best way for George Russell, who asked his engineers to immediately return to the pits and resolve a strange vibration he felt with his steering wheel despite the fact that this could take up a lot of working time. 

The team confirmed that the problem was a new rack, a prototype, which proved too heavy and prompted the mechanics to refit the ‘base’ specification.

Red Bull and Ferrari began their work with Hard tyres, while Aston Martin and Mercedes mounted the Medium tyre for their first runs.

The lack of grip was quickly noticed by the drivers, especially those on Hard tyres, who completed several long runs. Blockages and errors in approaching and exiting corners. The heat definitely doesn’t help, also causing the tires to slide.

35 minutes from the end, the first attempts with the Soft rubber begin. The bearers of Haas and Williams try first, followed by Red Bull, Aston Martin and Gasly. 

Mercedes, on the other hand, continued to work with the medium tyre, especially with George Russell, who was able to complete some important laps in FP1.

However, these attempts were somewhat interrupted shortly after, just long enough for the reigning world champion to set the best time in 1.31.054 ahead of Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas of +0.338.

The German himself caused a red flag for an accident in the fast section in support in the first sector, losing the car and hitting the wall, interrupting the session about thirty minutes from the end.

The action resumed, after removing Nico Hulkenberg’s car from the track and cleaning it, leaving the team and drivers with the last 15 minutes of work for this first free practice session. 

The two Ferrari drivers were immediately behind Max Verstappen with the usual Ferrari programme: push, passage to the pits, and second attempt with front flap adjustments. The Dutchman seta 1.30.549. The

Monegasque was +0.253 on his second attempt, while Sainz was forced to abort due to a mistake in the fast section of the first sector. Mercedes also joined the drivers with Soft tyres, the last of the drivers to try the ‘Qualifying’ tyre.

Taking the lead in the Miami FP1 standings and taking the titles is Mercedes, who, closing the fastest lap last on the Soft tyre, set the best time in 1.30.125 with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton at +0.212.

Third will be Charles Leclerc, who, on lap 3, launched on the Soft tyre, will further improve his time, reaching +0.324 from the first position, while Verstappen stayed in fourth position – finishing the last laps on the Hard tyre.

FP1 Miami

Author: Paolo D’Alessandro

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang

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