Miami Grand Prix: George Russell tops the times for Mercedes in practice

George Russell confirmed Mercedes’ recovery from their early-season problems as he topped Friday’s second number of free practices for this weekend’s inaugural Miami Grand Prix. Exploiting the reliability issues facing world champion Max Verstappen and the Red Bull team, the 24-year-old British lap best in a minute 29,938 seconds to trail the champion Charles Leclerc of Ferrari team 0.106.

His record shows that, after a poor first four races of the season, Silver Arrows’ aerodynamic upgrade package has worked.

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez finished third, more than a tenth, closely ahead of seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton in the second McLaren.

Hamilton was excused from entering the event late with a necklace after being banned for ‘driving bling’, having removed all of his other jewelry shortly before the opening ceremony.

Fernando Alonso finished fifth for Alpine ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly in a session interrupted by two red flags on a warm, dry day at the new Miami International Autodrome.

Leclerc was ahead of Russell in number of times in the morning’s opening session, but could not repeat the feat in the afternoon when Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz was involved in an accident again.

In front of an enthusiastic sold-out crowd in Miami Gardens, practice began with Esteban Ocon setting the pace to medium, the track cooling down to 44 degrees after a frenetic morning session led by Leclerc.

It didn’t last long for the Alpine driver as he was soon overtaken by Sainz before Leclerc took command and the Ferrari men made the fastest laps.

Verstappen missed the initial action when Red Bull decided to change his transmission after he grazed a wall during the first session.

Valtteri Bottas, of Alfa Romeo, was also out of action after the morning crash.

Perez, in his second Red Bull game, managed to split the Ferraris in 23 minutes before Sainz raised his second red flag of the day as he went back to the fence in turn 14.

He was unscathed, but after defeats in Melbourne and Imola it was a blow to his confidence.

After a 12-minute delay, while Perez’s team assisted in the world champion’s car, Verstappen emerged to join the fight only to be called back to the pit.

“I couldn’t steer,” said Verstappen, who was almost involved in a collision with Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin.

He returned to the track, but the rear brake on his car overheated and caught on fire – as main rival Leclerc went fastest on the track in 1:30,044 only to be overtaken by Russell in 1:29,938, a lap confirmed the Silver Arrows’ revival.

With 20 minutes remaining, Russell led Leclerc and Perez with Hamilton fourth and Verstappen frustrated without a lap in time. His problem was diagnosed as a hydraulic problem.


Another red flag followed, with 12 going on, as Nicholas Latifi sped up and stopped at his Williams, before a final set of action.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from the syndication feed.)

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