Verstappen’s session was not hassle-free as a headrest issue, clipping his Hans device kept him in the pits early on, but once he got going Max scorched around to claim the top spot on the timing sheets, much faster than last year with the new surface rubbering in and offering more grip than it did last year.
Oozing confidence and seeking to make amends in Miami for second place he had to settle for in Azerbaijan. The Dutchman’s best effort 1.27.930s was three-tenths faster than the next best, Carlos Sainz, in the Ferrari whose teammate Charles Leclerc lost control of his car during, a hot lap attempt, nosing straight into the barriers in Turn 8. Nevertheless, he was third quickest.
Sergio Perez, winner in Baku last Sunday, was also out of sorts on the opening day, in FP2 he was fourth, nearly half a second shy of his teammate, and with work to do if he wants to keep harassing Verstappen in the title race between the RBR Boys. The top four were separated by just under a second.
Next up – Best of the Rest – was Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin, the fastest of the Mercedes-powered brigade, albeit 0.730s down on the top time and fractionally quicker than Lando Norris who popped a stellar lap when he bolted on the red Band Pirelli soft tyres, topping the timing screens until the Big Boys got going.
Mercedes were slower than their customers Aston Martin and McLaren
Behind their customers, was the faster of the Mercedes duo, Lewis Hamilton nearly a second down on Verstappen’s best despite the P1 and P2 in FP1 earlier in the day. It was worse for George Russell in the other Merc who struggled in FP1 with a steering issue and never found the sweet spot in FP2 which included a spin, ending 15th, 1.2 seconds down on the top time.
Lance Stroll was eighth in the other Aston Martin, exactly one-second shy of Verstappen’s effort, and a quarter of a second down on Alonso in the sister car.
Alpine desperately need to turn around their season, reeling from a woeful weekend in Baku, FP2 was kinder to the French lads, with Esteban Ocon ninth on the final timesheets with Pierre Gasly a tenth and a bit down on his teammate but good enough for 11th.
Local hero Sargeant was slowest of all around Miami
Alex Albon was in good form putting the Williams in places it should not be aka tenth and within 1.1s of the benchmark time, the top ten separated by that time.
Down the order, American Logan Sargeant – who grew upo near Miami – was slowest of all in the Williams racing at a venue close to where his interest in racing began, the rookie no match for teammate Albon who was a second faster.
Nyck De Vries, emerging as the biggest disappointment of the 2023 season, was 19th, three-tenths slower than Yuki Tsunoda in the other AlphaTauri, who ended the session 18th. The woeful AT04 doing neither of their drivers any favours.
Notably, FP2 today was held an hour later than Qualifying will be on Saturday, and two hours earlier than the race start, which has turned tyre wear and degradation into a guessing game for the sessions that really matter in Miami this weekend.