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Verstappen sets FP2 pace in Miami


Ahead of today's second practice session the air temperature is 29 degrees C, while the track temperature is 41 degrees.

George Russell lead a Mercedes 1-2 earlier, but this was more about the fact that timing of the pair's first run on softs, and the fact that the track is constantly evolving. The Briton's performance was particularly impressive as a steering rack issue caused him to miss a good chunk of the session.

Drivers struggled for grip throughout the session, with just the merest deviation from the racing line resulting in a total lack of grip.

Having crashed, Haas has opted to change the gearbox on Nico Hulkenberg's car, though the team is happy with the new floor it has brought here.

The lights go green and Bottas leads the way, followed by Zhou, Stroll, Alonso and Magnussen.

Soon all bar De Vries, Ocon, Russell and Piastri are on track, with hards appearing to be the tyre of the moment.

No sooner has Bottas posted a 32.355 than Alonso crosses the line at 32.115.

Piastri and Ocon head out as Leclerc goes quickest (31.459) ahead of his Ferrari teammate.

Verstappen is on the pace from the outset, the Dutchman stopping the clock at 30.146. Perez can only manage 30.751, which is still good enough for second.

A 31.095 sees Gasly go third as Piastri and Russell finally head out.

A spin for Magnussen at Turn 14, the Dane doing well to only brush the wall with his front wing. Moments later Hamilton has a wobble in the same corner.

No sooner has Sainz gone top with a 30.128 than Leclerc hits back with a 29.497.

"Mate, my headrest again, f***, I can't move, all the time," complains Verstappen. Despite his obvious discomfort he splits the Ferraris with a 29.603.

Perez improves to third with a 29.622, however, a 29.380 sees his teammate - and title rival - go top again.

Hamilton takes a very rough ride over the kerbs at Turn 14.

Just under twenty minutes in and Sargeant and de Vries are the first to bolt on the softs.

"Oh my goodness," sighs Perez as he rounds a blind corner to find a slow de Vries, almost clout the outside wall in his efforts to avoid the AlphaTauri.

The Mexican is subsequently shown the black and white flag for crossing the line at pit entry.

On those softs, Sargeant improves to ninth with a 30.191.

Also on the red-banded rubber Norris goes quickest, stopping the clock at 28.741. Moments later, McLaren teammate Piastri goes second with a 29.339.

As more drivers switch to softs Alonso splits the McLaren pair with a 29.098.

Moments later however he is demoted when Sainz crosses the line at 28.832.

Leclerc goes quickest in S2, but a lock-up in Turn 17 sees him abort the lap.

As the track continues to evolve, Albon goes third with a 29.046, however a 28.255 from Verstappen sees him drop to fourth.

Russell is complaining about a vibration on his steering again.

Leclerc improves to second with a 28.398, just 0.143s off Verstappen's pace as Stroll goes sixth with a 28.930.

Sainz improves to second with a 28.315, the Spaniard just 0.060s off the pace.

A 28.993 sees Ocon go seventh.

"That was a timely placed McLaren," says Russell, as teammate Hamilton improves to sixth (28.921), splitting the Aston Martins in the process.

Missing the apex, Albon has to take to the escape road at Turn 17.

Verstappen ups the ante with a 27.930, the Dutchman quickest in all three sectors.

"I think it's three-wheeling through the left-hander, Turn 2," reports Russell.

The top eight, Verstappen, Sainz, Leclerc, Perez, Alonso, Norris, Hamilton and Stroll are covered by exactly one second.

The fast laps seemingly done, attention now turns to high fuel running.

The Ferraris are on different strategies, Leclerc on mediums and Sainz on softs. Aston Martin adopts a similar tactic, with Alonso opting for the red-banded rubber.

Russell spins at Turn 11 but is able to continue.

Alonso is clearly unhappy at Ocon who steadfastly refuses to yield to the Spaniard. "Free practice is their moment, so it's all good," he laughs.

Oh dear, Leclerc has gone straight on at Turn 7 and his has gone nose first into the barrier. He is fine and climbs from the car as the parallel tyre marks tell the sorry tale. "I crashed," he reports.

The session is red flagged.

The session resumes with 4 minutes remaining. Albon leads the way, followed by Sargeant, de Vries, Bottas and Zhou.

Sainz asks if his teammate lost the front or the rear. "The rear," he is told.

While there is no time for any significant running, with an eye on practice starts all 19 remaining drivers are on track.

A big, big lock-up for Verstappen.

With the track still evolving it is still hard to get an idea of the pecking order, though Verstappen clearly has the edge. Ferrari looks good, as do Aston Martin and Mercedes, also McLaren, but one feels that some of these teams have yet to show their hands.

One thing we do know is that this is a track that bites, and the slightest deviation from the racing line is punished... all of which does not exactly inspire confidence in terms of Sunday's race and the three-abreast battles we are always being promised.

The session ends. Verstappen is quickest, ahead of Sainz, Leclerc, Perez, Alonso, Norris, Hamilton, Stroll, Ocon and Albon.

Gasly is eleventh, ahead of Magnussen, Zhou, Bottas, Russell, Piastri, Hulkenberg, Tsunoda, de Vries and Sargeant.

Check out our Friday gallery from Miami here.


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