Russell fastest, Verstappen hits trouble in second Miami GP practice

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Russell fastest, Verstappen hits trouble in second Miami GP practice

Formula 1

Russell fastest, Verstappen hits trouble in second Miami GP practice

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George Russell has taken top spot from Charles Leclerc in a reversal of form in Friday’s second practice for the Miami Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver put his updated car to good advantage to pip the Ferrari by 0.106s and flip the order from first practice.

The W13 looks improved compared to the difficult machine of the first four rounds, and though the bouncing was sometimes still evident at the end of the Miami International Autodrome’s long straights, it seemed less frequent than in previous races.

Leclerc’s only complaint was of unusual engine behavior through the clumsy and slow final sector, but his teammate, Carlos Sainz, had things far worse. The Spaniard smashed his Ferrari less than 20 minutes in when his SF-75 swapped ends attempting to navigate Turn 14, slamming him left-hand-first into the right-side barriers.

Sainz had completed only nine laps when the red flags waved to recover his car, and none of them were on soft tires. He’s yet to set a flying lap on the qualifying compound after his lock-up in first practice.

Sergio Perez was third and 0.2s off the pace in a similarly bittersweet day for Red Bull Racing, with reigning champion Max Verstappen setting just one slow lap with technical problems.

The Dutchman’s car underwent a precautionary gearbox change between practice sessions after he knocked the wall exiting Turn 16 in FP1. It meant he didn’t hit the track until around halfway through, but immediately he reported steering problems and had to crawl back to the pits, his rear-left brake on fire by the time he got there.

He was lucky to return to his garage in one piece too, after coming close to being cleaned up by Lance Stroll, who was caught unawares by the crawling RB18 at turn 11. Verstappen didn’t rejoin the session, effectively losing the entire hour.

Lewis Hamilton was fourth-fastest and 0.241s adrift of his leading teammate and ahead of Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Pierre Gasly was seventh for AlphaTauri, which is carrying some upgraded parts this weekend but has been struggling with cooling, with Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu in eighth.

Esteban Ocon was ninth for Alpine, and Kevin Magnussen rounded out the top 10.

Sainz dropped to 11th after his crash at just over a second off the pace; the Spaniard had set the fastest time on the medium tires before losing his car.

Daniel Ricciardo was 12th ahead of Yuki Tsunoda, while Aston Martin teammates Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll in 14th and 16th sandwiched Mick Schumacher’s Haas in 15th.

Williams teammates Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi propped up the table, the Canadian after stopping by the side of the road with drive problems with 12 minutes to go, triggering a very brief red flag.

Valtteri Bottas didn’t partake in the session after crashing in first practice. His car was bereft of engine, gearbox and floor at the start of the hour, the repair work too significant to be completed in the two hours between sessions.

Possible engine problems will be most concerning, with Bottas having received the upgraded Ferrari power unit this weekend.

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