Formula 1: Training in Miami: Verstappen catches fire, Sainz crashes

The world champion in trouble again: Max Verstappen’s 2022 season has so far consisted of light and shadow. Two failures in Bahrain and Australia contrast two wins in Saudi Arabia and Imola. At the premiere of the Miami Grand Prix, the Red Bull star is obviously caught up with the error devil again.

Verstappen cannot set a time in the second free practice session on Friday. First he spends a long time in the pits because his team is changing gears, then the rear brakes on his RB18 catch fire. “Today was a terrible day for Max. We had a hydraulic problem, which unfortunately caused damage to the rear brakes,” explains Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.

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According to Horner, the gear change at the beginning of the session is a “pure precautionary measure” because Verstappen had slight contact with the wall in the first training session and the team does not want to take any risks, but the later damage is more of a headache for the defending champion: “It’s just on a new course obviously frustrating to have so little time on the track,” says Horner.

Flames licking out of the brake: Max Verstappen in trouble

Red Bull is now relying on the data from number 2 driver Sergio Perez, who finished third in practice. “He had a good session with long and short runs. We can build on that for tomorrow’s set-up,” commented Horner. The problem: The Mexican sees it differently: “It was a pretty chaotic training session, we barely got the laps together and go into the race blindly. After all, most of them are on board with us,” believes Perez.
Because the competition also has difficulties: Carlos Sainz Jr., who crashes again as in the last two races, is the only one ahead. The Spaniard spun his Ferrari into the wall in turn 14 and sent the red flag after just 15 minutes. Ferrari’s world championship leader Charles Leclerc is second, but the Monegasque also complains about engine failures in the narrow last sector of the street course.

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Surprisingly, a Mercedes is the fastest on Friday: Once again, newcomer George Russell gives teammate Lewis Hamilton a brain teaser. Russell’s lead over the fourth-placed record world champion is two and a half tenths.

The Mercedes renaissance at the top does not surprise the experts in the paddock. “We’ve warned since the start of the season that it’s only a matter of time before they sort things out. You can see them getting their fix and they’re pretty competitive here,” said Red Bull team principal Horner with a view to the silver competition.

Sky expert Karun Chandhok even goes one step further after Friday’s impressions: “Mercedes is back in the game. This is a track that suits you more with its downforce configuration,” believes the ex-F1 driver and forecasts for qualifying on Saturday (10 p.m., live on Sky) even: “For the first time this season we could have three teams fighting for pole.”

Best time in second practice for George Russell in the Mercedes

Although the Silver Arrows still suffer from bouncing on the straights in Miami, the Mercedes cuts a fine figure in the slow corners. What’s more, the upgrades it’s brought with it seem to be having an impact: in addition to the low-drag rear wing variant, Mercedes has also made significant modifications to the front wing’s outer panels to make better use of the outwash effect and move air more efficiently around the outsides of the tires and after to be routed to the underbody at the rear.
From the point of view of the German drivers, the second practice session in Miami was rather mixed: Sebastian Vettel made a spin shortly before the end of the session and was flagged down in 14th place in the Aston Martin, one place ahead of Mick Schumacher. The Haas driver loses parts of his car right from the start, but Schumi Jr. is even more serious when he is seven tenths down on teammate Kevin Magnussen.
Valtteri Bottas cannot take part in the second session on Friday after his crash in the first practice session and the resulting damage to his Alfa Romeo. Williams driver Nicholas Latifi, who has to park his car at the side of the track, also has to leave work early, causing the second red flag in practice after Sainz.

Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix
2. Free Practice

1. George Russell (Great Britain) – Mercedes 1:29.938 min.
2. Charles Leclerc (Monaco) – Ferrari +0.106s
3. Sergio Perez (Mexico) – Red Bull +0.212
4. Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain) – Mercedes +0.241
5. Fernando Alonso (Spain) – Alpine +0.434
6. Lando Norris (Great Britain) – McLaren +0.597
7. Pierre Gasly (France) – Alpha Tauri +0.609
8. Zhou Guanyu (China) – Alfa Romeo +0.922
9. Esteban Ocon (France) – Alpine +0.923
10. Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) – Haas +0.983
11. Carlos Sainz (Spain) – Ferrari +1.026
12. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) – McLaren +1.270
13. Yuki Tsunoda (Japan) – Alpha Tauri +1.322
14. Sebastian Vettel (Heppenheim) – Aston Martin +1.455
15. Mick Schumacher (Gland/Switzerland) – Haas +1.649
16. Lance Stroll (Canada) – Aston Martin +1.693
17.Alexander Albon (Thailand)-Williams +1.772
18. Nicholas Latifi (Canada) – Williams +2.975
19. Max Verstappen (Netherlands) – Red Bull (no time)
20. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) – Alfa Romeo (no time)

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In 2022, Formula 1 will run on Sky. Last year, the broadcaster introduced a new TV channel especially for the premier class: Sky Formula 1. Here there is motorsport 24 hours a day. All practice sessions, all qualifying sessions, all races are always live and without commercial breaks. In addition, Sky also broadcasts the support races Formula 2, Formula 3 and the Porsche Supercup. The program also includes historic races and special programs.

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