With Formula 1 teams facing a new job in Miami, optimizing practice time is crucial. Not all variables can be simulated equally well in the simulator – think of the grip levels – real data is worth its weight in gold. The drivers were keen to do as many laps as possible, but Max Verstappen failed to do so. In the first session the count was fourteen and later in the afternoon it went even lower.
After hitting the wall, Red Bull decided to replace the gearbox as a precaution, but once that was done it turned out to be no good. Verstappen drove out, could hardly steer and saw flames coming from the rear right brakes. Lance Stroll narrowly dodged the Dutchman at Turn 16, after which Verstappen had no choice but to return to the pits. It was the end of the story on a Friday that can justifiably be described as miserable.
“It wasn’t a good day and that hurts extremely, especially on this track. You want to be outside as much as possible, getting to know the track and also finding the speed, but basically I was only able to do four or five laps fast. That’s absolutely not what you want,” said Verstappen after the second practice session behind the Red Bull box. As is well known, this session ended prematurely for the reigning world champion. “Yes, we had hydraulic problems. From the moment I drove off, I couldn’t steer properly. The brakes also caught fire, so yes, a lot of problems.”
These problems have cost important rounds, so there is still a lot to do. Verstappen knows that the third practice session will be extremely important, even if it doesn’t fix everything. “Of course we’re trying to catch up, but that’s far from ideal. Other drivers have a better idea of the track and that’s not all. We don’t have any data from my car either, so this is extremely painful.” The suffering may be mitigated somewhat by the red flags, which have also cost data to other formations. “But that’s no excuse for what we’re experiencing today happened,” Verstappen replies. “We have to look at ourselves and we could have done more today.”