With just over two hours remaining before the Miami Grand Prix qualifying session, Max Verstappen is the clear favorite.
Neither his teammate nor the Ferraris seem capable of challenging him.
However, with a constantly changing track surface, surprises could be in store.
Speaking of surprises, Alpine achieved something remarkable during FP3, with Pierre Gasly finishing fifth and Esteban Ocon sixth. Failing to see the French cars in the top eight later today would be a disappointment.
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Mercedes Struggles Continue
On the other hand, the Mercedes camp faces a grim situation. Just like last year, after a strong start, the Silver Arrows are struggling with excessive bouncing, particularly in the corners.
This issue, which also plagued them in 2022, is not reassuring. The German team seems to have lost control of their situation since the beginning of last year.
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell might have to fight to make it into Q3. In fact, the Williams, Haas, and Alfa Romeo cars could challenge for the top ten, alongside the Ferraris, Aston Martins, and Red Bulls.
In other words, there might be too many contenders for a limited number of places in Q3, which should provide an exciting spectacle to compensate for the lack of suspense in the pole position battle.
Red Bull’s Domination and Ferrari’s Hopes
During the first 20 minutes of FP3, Red Bull appeared to be the strongest team on the grid, followed by the Ferraris.
Mercedes, on the other hand, complained about the handling of their W14. Lewis Hamilton even declared he was no longer surprised by the one-second gap separating him from the Red Bull drivers. Ferrari hopes to catch up to the formidable RB19s by adding a new floor to their SF-23.
On soft tires, Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc were separated by less than a tenth during their first timed laps.
Sergio Pérez and Carlos Sainz trailed by a little over three-tenths of a second. Minutes later, Verstappen set the first real benchmark time (1:27.969), putting him more than seven-tenths ahead of Pérez.
Alpine’s Resurgence and Struggling McLarens
Alpine’s performance in Miami was a much-needed boost after their agonizing race in Baku. Both French drivers placed within the top five during FP3.
Conversely, AlphaTauri continued to struggle, with their cars finishing in the last two positions.
McLaren, which seemed to have regained some momentum since the Australian Grand Prix, faced significant difficulties on the Miami track.
Stuck at the back of the grid, the orange cars sat in 17th and 19th positions. Lando Norris even had a close call, losing the rear of his car in a high-speed corner.
Final FP3 Standings and Qualifying Anticipation
After the checkered flag waved, Max Verstappen put himself in the best possible position for qualifying.
The two-time world champion managed to put nearly half a second between himself and the competition.
With such a performance, it’s hard to bet against Verstappen in the battle for pole position.
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