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FP1: Verstappen leads Piastri and Sainz during first practice in Miami as Leclerc spins out

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 03: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen set the pace during Friday practice for the Miami Grand Prix, slotting ahead of McLaren rival Oscar Piastri and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in a busy, interrupted opening session.

As per China last time out, the Miami International Autodrome is playing host to a Sprint weekend, meaning just 60 minutes of running for drivers and teams to get back up to speed around the 5.412-kilometre venue before Sprint Qualifying.

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Meanwhile, several outfits were attempting to understand car upgrades, with McLaren spearheading that list by bringing an array of new parts from front to rear as they look to close the gap to pace-setters and reigning world champions Red Bull.

Red Bull themselves were at the centre of headlines approaching the event, following confirmation that legendary designer Adrian Newey is to leave the team early next year, but the arrival of FP1 put a pause on that paddock chatter.

Miami 2024

Practice 1 results

PositionTeam NameTime
1VER1:28.595
2PIA+0.105s
3SAI+0.116s
4RUS+0.189s
5STR+0.222s
View Full Results

Shortly after the session got going, with a mixture of Pirelli’s medium and hard compounds being used early on, Leclerc sparked the first drama of the weekend, and brought out the red flags, when he bounced over the kerbs exiting Turn 16 and spun – only narrowly avoiding the barriers.

Having lit up the rear tyres in an attempt to get himself out of trouble, Leclerc awkwardly ended up facing sideways between the concrete walls lining the track, with his car momentarily blocking future Ferrari team mate Lewis Hamilton and a host of other drivers.

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Leclerc edged forwards and backwards multiple times but could not rescue the situation and, as his car threatened to overheat, the Monegasque eventually gave in and jumped out of the cockpit – marshals stepping in to remove it from the circuit under the red flag.

When the session resumed, the remaining 19 drivers picked up their programmes, with Sainz – via a 1m 29.346s on hards – leading the way from Sergio Perez and Hamilton at the halfway mark, after a lock-up at Turn 17 left Verstappen towards the bottom of the timesheets.

Plenty of improvements came as the clock ticked down and drivers eventually moved to the soft tyres, with Verstappen overcoming an abandoned first lap on the red-marked rubber to pump in a 1m 28.595s and finish a tenth clear of Piastri and Sainz.

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 03: Adrian Newey, the Chief Technical Officer of Oracle Red Bull Racing talks

Newey addressed Red Bull staff in the build-up to FP1 following confirmation of his impending exit

George Russell was the fastest of the Mercedes drivers in fourth, three places ahead of team mate Hamilton, with the Silver Arrows machines split by Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin and Perez’s Red Bull.

RB driver Yuki Tsunoda and the Alpines of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly rounded out the top 10, from Daniel Ricciardo in the other VCARB 01, Haas pair Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg, and the Williams of Alex Albon, who survived a wild moment through Turn 4 late on.

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Kick Sauber duo Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas were 15th and 17th respectively, sandwiching the other McLaren of Lando Norris, who was running more of the team’s updates than Piastri but battled what was described as “an asymmetric power steering assistance” issue throughout the session.

Logan Sargeant made a low-key start to his first home Grand Prix weekend of the season, placing 18th in his Williams, with the second Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso 19th after only running hards, and Leclerc bringing up the rear after his costly spin.

Following that single hour of practice, drivers will now regroup with their teams and dig through the data before heading into Sprint Qualifying, which is scheduled to get under way at 1630 local time and sets the grid for Saturday’s Sprint.

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