The Miami GP brings – like all tracks – a set of unique challenges, with high air and track temperatures proving to be one of them.
Lewis Hamilton described the intensity and heat of Miami as just below that of Malaysia and Singapore, a testament to the high temperatures drivers and teams will have to face.
Red Bull, meanwhile, has fought with the conditions in both practice sessions. Verstappen was forced to pit after overheating was flagged as a potential issue, compromising (though not too severely) the Dutchman’s running in first practice.
This even prompted Red Bull to make a precautionary gearbox change between practices 1 and 2, highlighting the Austrian team’s concerns about reliability (though that switch was also motivated by Verstappen’s brush with the wall in FP1).
Things only worsened in Free Practice 2, which saw Verstappen’s brake catch alight and his steering fail, preventing the Dutchman from directing his RB18.
Whilst it’s easy to say ‘it’s only practice’, collecting new data at this new circuit will be essential, especially given these new regulations and the volatile nature of the season so far. Sergio Perez was left to do the majority of running for Red Bull, who will hope to compensate for their lack of track time in the final practice session today.
The issue for Red Bull, however, is their reliability has been quite precarious this season already, having seen Verstappen retire twice this season, in addition to Perez’s DNF in Bahrain.
Alongside the issues faced by Tsunoda and Gasly in Red Bull’s sister team, there are concerns that even if they can avoid any severe issues this weekend, the car is still fundamentally unreliable, which could prove costly over the weekend.
Championship battle aside, Red Bull will hope that their changes overnight will be successful in preventing any further complications, and therefore stop Charles Leclerc from extending his lead in the championship to Verstappen and Perez.