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Max Verstappen

The data that hints at a Miami fight for Red Bull

With just one practice session to get up to speed around the Miami International Autodrome, teams are under pressure to get their set-ups right ahead of the grand prix.

Verstappen Miami
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

On the agenda for the sole practice session in Miami was collecting as much data as possible in the one hour before the competitive sessions started.

It marked a great challenge for all the squads, as with another sprint weekend, there was very little time for teams and drivers to find a strong set-up.

Max Verstappen claimed pole position for the sprint race with Charles Leclerc narrowly behind the reigning world champion.

But while Dutchman was the pick of the field across one lap, the long-run times from FP1 tell a bit of a different story.

A trend at Red Bull across the last handful of years has been its strong race pace, which has remained consistent (bar the odd blip) at most race tracks.

However, in the long runs, Verstappen was noticeably slower than some of his rivals, and in particular, the McLaren of Lando Norris.

McLaren has fitted a plethora of upgrades to the MCL38 for the weekend in a bid to close the gap to Red Bull.

However, it is a strong possibility that Verstappen had some form of limitation onboard, such as more fuel than his rivals, which resulted in slower times.

Text continues below.

FP1 long runs from Miami

Norris (McLaren) Sainz (Ferrari) Piastri (McLaren) Verstappen (Red Bull)
1:31.001 1:31.516 1:31.752 1:32.925
1:31.486 1:31.866 1:32.419 1:32.819
1:31.623 1:31.825 1:32.070 1:33.050
1:31.974 1:32.315 1:32.938

Taking a look at the lap times of the long runs during practice, it is noticeable that Norris and team-mate Piastri, as well as Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari were faster than Verstappen.

Only the Dutchman drove on the Medium tyre, while the other three were equipped with the Hard compound.

The difference in the number of laps on that tyre shows that Norris, Sainz and Piastri were probably driving with relatively little fuel on board, while Verstappen was able to continue his laps at the same pace and was four-tenths faster at the end of his long run than at the beginning.

While the gaps look quite large, it seems Verstappen and Red Bull are holding their cards close to their chest.

Verstappen showed during sprint qualifying that he is the man to beat - or was Norris' pace in sprint qualifying enough to usurp, without a mistake?

The Red Bull man will aim to promote his pole position in the sprint race to victory and will no doubt want to do the same for the grand prix.

Only then will we truly know if Red Bull is once again the pick of the field or if a rival team has a chance at causing an upset.

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