Miami Grand Prix 2023: Max Verstappen lays down ominous marker in practice

·2-min read
Miami Grand Prix 2023: Max Verstappen lays down ominous marker in practice

Max Verstappen laid down an ominous marker for the Miami Grand Prix by topping the timesheets in second practice ahead of Sunday’s race.

The Dutchman had dominated much of FP1 before being eclipsed by flying laps by first Lewis Hamilton and then George Russell in the dying minutes for a Mercedes one-two at the top of the order.

But the two-time world champion proved in a class of his own to clock the fastest lap - a 1:27.930 - in second practice to end up quickest by four tenths of a second ahead of his closest rival, Carlos Sainz.

The session ended sourly for Sainz’s Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc, who locked up his rear tyres going into turn seven, and hit the wall, apologising to his team over the race radio afterwards.

The session was red flagged and, while the cars briefly returned to the track, it was not enough to affect the order at the top with Sergio Perez in fourth, Lando Norris in fifth and Lewis Hamilton in sixth,

Mercedes had been well off the pace for much of the opening 60 minutes as they tested out various changes on the W14.

Russell earned an early setback when reporting vibration issues, which brought him back into the pits for a change of steering rack, which had been trialled as part of a minor upgrade on his Mercedes.

He was then languishing towards the bottom of the timesheets in 18th, a spot above Hamilton before their flying laps at the death, Russell’s two tenths of a second quicker than his more experienced teammate with a best lap of 1:30.125.

FP1 also had to be red flagged when Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg blocked the track after crashing around the midway point. It brought a 10-minute break to proceedings before the session resumed for its second half.