Daniel Ricciardo was in the stewards’ bad books for playing by his own rules before qualifying for the Miami GP.
Sergio Perez set the Red Bull times for championship leader Charles Leclerc in Sunday’s final practice session ahead of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix.
In hot but changing conditions, the 32-year-old Mexican clocked a best lap in one minute and 30.304 seconds to outpace Ferrari’s Leclerc by 0.194, with his Red Bull teammate and defending world champion Max Verstappen in third, three tenths adrift.
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Making light of his 40 years, two-time champion Fernando Alonso was fourth fastest for Alpine ahead of Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and Haas’ Mick Schumacher, all seven tenths off the leading pace.
Carlos Sainz finished seventh for Ferrari, ahead of Kevin Magnussen, Williams’ Alex Albon and McLaren driver Lando Norris, but it was a disappointing day for Mercedes after their return to competitive form on Friday.
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was only 15th and George Russell, who was fastest in second practice, was 17th – with both again appearing to be struggling with ‘porpoises’ in the closing stages of the session and only two hours to solve their problems. for the qualification.
Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo received an official reprimand from the stewards for conducting “a practice start in a manner inconsistent with the Race Director’s Event Notes”.
F1 journalist Chris Medland pointed out on Twitter that Ricciardo was likely to be in trouble for going against the comment: “All drivers performing a practice start should do so by pulling as far forward on the grid as possible and, if need to wait for others to make a start before moving forward to a grid position. Under no circumstances should a driver make a practice start if there is another car in front of him stationary on the same side of the grid.”
Verstappen quickly set the pace in practice, swapping fastest times with Leclerc, before Esteban Ocon crashed into Turn 14, triggering a red flag as his Alpine hit the barriers.
The Frenchman ended up in the same spot where Carlos Sainz had hit the wall on Saturday, a collision that cut short his day for Ferrari and left him trying to make up for it on Sunday.
After Ocon’s incident, with 45 minutes to go, both Mercedes were back in the top six: Russell fourth and Hamilton sixth.
“We seem to be faster, but I’m not sure why that is,” Hamilton had explained. “We still have the bounce, so we haven’t cured it, but little by little we are improving the car.” Watched in the Mercedes garage by former US First Lady Michelle Obama, the Silver Arrows duo continued to bask in the sunshine which they said played as big a part in their resurgence as the car updates.
After a 15-minute break to clear Ocon’s car and debris, the action resumed.
“The race is going to be tough, especially because the tires are overheating,” said Hamilton. “And it’s very hot all day… I’ve lost a few pounds already! It reminds me of racing in Malaysia with the heat.”
Of the track, Hamilton said it was “bumpy” but “fun to drive”. The challenging track was expected to present challenges and errors, especially when strong winds came in with heavy looking clouds. For Russell it meant less grip and more “porpoises” again.
“The tires are nowhere,” he reported as Perez and Verstappen took over at the top for Leclerc, the top trio running a full second faster than the rest with nine minutes to go before a dramatic late breakaway for Verstappen who hit a curb in the Turn 13 and came to a stop.