Scuderia Ferrari were seeking to build on their promising start to the weekend after securing a third and fifth place in the earlier opening hour of running.
George Russell topped Lewis Hamilton by two tenths of a second in the first free practice session for the Miami Grand Prix, but the two Silver Arrows had the best of the track conditions as they set their best times in the final minute of the session.
So this second session likely gave us a truer representation of the standing order in Miami. For the opening 58 minutes of the earlier session, championship leader Max Verstappen had looked in pretty dominant form as he sought to restore a larger gap at the top of the standings.
Practice Two was therefore under way and it was still scorching temperatures in Miami: 28C air temperature with a track temperature over 40C as we got going at the Miami International Autodrome in Florida.
Haas mechanics had a busy lunch break repairing Nico Hulkenberg’s car after the big crash in the first free practice session, but it was back out on track despite the scary moment in Practice One. Sergio Perez was the one setting the fastest lap of the session early on, but Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen then set in a 1:30.146 – 0.605 seconds faster than the Mexican. Carlos Sainz then fastest followed by Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc putting in a 1:29.497. Verstappen and Perez soon bettered the Spaniard’s time, but couldn’t overhaul the Monegasque at that stage.
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After ten minutes, yellow flags were briefly waving in sector two: and it was because Kevin Magnussen had a big moment at Turn 11 and spun, brushing the wall as he did so. That needed some minor repair work in the garage but Haas got away with one there after Hulkenberg’s earlier crash.
Max Verstappen wasn’t off the top of the timesheet for long: despite not setting a personal best in sector 2, the Dutchman put in a 1:29.380 to reclaim top spot from Charles Leclerc. Sergio Perez then went purple through the first sector but he couldn’t improve his best sector two time and headed into the pit lane at the end of the lap. With 42 minutes to go in the second free practice session for the Miami Grand Prix, the majority of drivers were back in their garages, as final preparations were going on ahead of their low-fuel soft tyre runs.
Lando Norris was the first driver to complete a soft tyre lap and it saw him put the McLaren top of the standings with a 1:28.7. Alex Albon went third fastest with his first soft tyre flyer but team-mate and home boy Logan Sargeant could only slot into ninth with his own effort.
Charles Leclerc was on a fast flyer but the Ferrari driver had a huge lock-up heading into the Turn 17 hairpin. That wrecked his lap and he has to remained down in seventh in the timesheet, while Max Verstappen was back out after Red Bull had a play with his headrest. And the Dutchman went fastest by nearly half a second with his first soft tyre flyer: it was a 1:28.255 that improved his mood. Charles Leclerc had another go on those flat-spotted tyres and was unable to beat Max Verstappen’s bench mark. Still, the Monegasque went P2, just over a tenth off the leading Red Bull. Team-mate Carlos Sainz then put in personal bests through all three sectors to pinch P2 and was much closer to Max Verstappen – just 0.060s off.
With 27 minutes to go in FP2, Sergio Perez improved on his fastest lap but it was only good enough for P4. The Mexican was 0.164s off team-mate Max Verstappen and had a poor final sector. Not long after, Max Verstappen broke into the 1:27s. A 1:27.930 was his latest effort to extend his advantage over Carlos Sainz back out to over three tenths of a second.
Ten minutes to the end, the red flags are out as Charles Leclerc unfortunately lost control of his Ferrari SF-23 car and ended up going straight into the barriers at Turn 8. His car was recovered and the session resumed with around four minutes to go.
Max Verstappen therefore lead the way in FP2. It’s was the Dutchman who went back on top at the end of the second practice session of the weekend, followed by the Ferrari duo of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in second and third respectively. Not a great session for Mercedes though. Lewis Hamilton could only manage seventh fastest and George Russell was down in 15th.
Practice Two final standings. Here is how the top 10 looks at the end of practice two:
1) Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
2) Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
3) Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
4) Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
5) Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)
6) Lando Norris (McLaren)
7) Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
8) Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
9) Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
10) Alex Albon (Williams)