Following free practice ahead of Sunday’s inaugural Miami Grand Prix, the drivers have shared their thoughts on Formula 1’s newest track. Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton had mixed impressions following the team's positive sessions trialling their upgrades.
An upbeat Russell was very complimentary of the circuit, and positive around the team’s apparent pace improvement following their upgrades.
“I don’t really understand it to be honest,” Russell said of the team’s inherent pace around the circuit. “We always knew this weekend that the conditions should suit us better because we’ve been struggling a lot with tyre warmup.
“Even in Bahrain when the track was really rough, but this is the first real hot race of the season. For sure that’s played a big factor.”
The young Mercedes man spoke of his opinion on the track layout which he deems “unique”.
“Yeah it’s unique,” he quipped. “I was a bit unsure how I was going to take to the very slow speed tight section underneath the bridge and it’s still a bit of a head banger through there.
“They’ve done an amazing job, it’s a bit undulating in sections, really high speed corners. I think it’s great for the fans as well and the people in the hospitality.”
Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton, although generally positive of the circuit, was not sold on the tight chicane and pointed out the circuit is quite bumpy.
“It’s bumpy. It’s kinda crazy when you think people in this day and age should be able to make a flat road,” he joked. “There’s big big big bumps in so many places where the track joins up with somewhere else. I don’t know if they’ll beagle to grind that overnight and improve it.
“Otherwise the track’s quite nice to drive except for the chicane.
“It’s so tight. It reminds me of being in a B&Q car park when I was six years old in a go-kart going between cars. Maybe in future they can remove that one and it will improve the track.”
In the Red Bull camp, Max Verstappen was downbeat following his issue riddled friday which he says were caused mainly by hydraulics issues.
“Just not a good day,” Verstappen said. “These days are extremely painful, especially on a track like this where you want to be out there and learn the track and get up to speed.
“It was just some hydraulic issues,” he explained. “As soon as I went out of the pits I couldn't really steer, like it was locked and also the brakes were on fire so a lot of problems.
“Of course I’ll try to catch up but it’s just not ideal. Everyone is of course a little bit more into their running but not only that, we have no information on my car, what we need to do so yeah it’s extremely painful.”
On the other side of the Red Bull garage, Sergio Perez was critical of what he describes as a messy Friday with limited running. The Mexican driver was also quick to state he believes racing will be difficult due to a lack of grip.
“I think it was a very messy session. I think in total I did one medium lap and two soft laps. Then on the high fuel there was nothing we could really do with all the red flags and the time we lost. So we’re going blind into the race basically.
“It’s pretty disappointing that there is no grip off line. It’s a shame because I think the racing will be bad due to that. As soon as you try to go off line there is no grip. It’s damp, probably it’s wet on that side. If it’s very gravelly off line racing will be hard.”
In the Ferrari camp, the view of the track is more positive with Charles Leclerc calling it “tricky” even though he enjoys it. The Monaco native also commented on the track evolution throughout the day.
“It’s a very tricky track, but yeah it’s nice. I like it, I enjoy it. It seems like the field is much closer together than what we’ve seen since the start of the season so it should be exciting.
“We definitely need to do a step up for tomorrow, so we will try and pull everything together for tonight, try and analyse data as much as we can and do a step forward also in terms of driving and have a good Saturday.”
“[The track] changed massively since this morning, it’s changed really really a lot. Especially with this tarmac. It’s very different to what we are used to normally. Off line it’s slippery like crazy so any small mistake you pay off quite a lot.”
His teammate Carlos Sainz had another compromised session, with a mistake leaving him in the barrier. The Spaniard was confident in his pace however despite the incident.
“The pace is still there, I’m pretty fast out there. I’m obviously disappointed because it’s not the way you want to start a weekend.
“I hit the barrier in the worst possible place. There was no TecPro there. I hit straight into a concrete wall which, even at the speed I was going, felt quite harsh so the car has damage. I’ve given everyone a busy Friday night which is not ideal, but the pace is there.
“The car seemed to be working well around here, so we’ll take the positives.”