Thursday, May 11, 2023

F1 Miami Saturday

Wearing McLaren for Saturday. Sunny in Miami, go figure!

On Saturday the F1 teams had practice session 3, and then later in the afternoon the all important qualifying. We headed out to the track a bit later than Friday, and still got to our parking lot with no troubles. OK, we had to park a bit further away, but still not a bad walk to get to the gate. Part of the fun was spotting a few Ferrari, Lamborghini, and even a Rolls Royce in the parking lot. Not sure I'd drive my rolls into a sandy/grass parking lot, but F1 has fans of all kinds! As it turned out, the qualifying ended with few surprises that would mix up the racing on Sunday. 


Recovery equipment at the end of the run-off at turn 18

Guess what? It was still on the warm side in Miami! After living in NY for the past 5 years, we had to load up on sunscreen again, drink a lot of refreshing beverages, and settle in to watch qualifying. Formula 1 Qualifying is broken up into 3 sessions, and the first session eliminates the slowest 5 cars, then the next session eliminates 5 more cars, and then the finale has the top ten cars going for fastest lap to determine where they start for the race. 

Haas garages. We were across from Aston Martin, and could also see the Alpha Tauri, Williams, and Alfa Romeo team garages too.

Typically in this last qualifying session, each driver will get two attempts, so the normal strategy is to head out early and get a clean run on the board to avoid getting shut out if something happens like a rain-out at the last minute, or a crash that ends the session. Well, we didn't have rain, but just as the 10 drivers were out on track for their 2nd and final shot at qualifying, Ferrari driver Charles LeClerc slid off track and into the wall, which at first brought out local yellow caution flag. With a yellow flag, drivers have to slow to be able to react to whatever hazard is on track, so that prevented any other driver from even setting a time. The yellow flag then quickly turned into a red flag, which tells all drivers to return to the pit, and that was the end of qualifying. 

Ferrari on track for qualifying

 The big drama was that 2 of the top 10 hadn't set ANY time yet, so Valtteri Bottas and defending champ Max Verstappen had NO time, and had to start the race in 9th and 10th. At least they got to stay in the top 10, but their example is a great lesson in the importance of getting out and setting a banker lap early in Q3. With Max in the Red Bull car having to start 9th, he would have to pass a lot of drivers to get near the front of the race the next day. Bottas is one of my favorite drivers too, maybe because he races with #77 too.

King Charles was crowned earlier in the day, but who would be crowned in qualifying? ON TO QUALIFYING!

So, with the quirky yellow/red flag in qualifying, we also had MoneyGram Haas F1 Team driver Kevin Magnussen way up in 4th place, which is the American team's best ever qualifying in a Sunday race! Ahead of him on the grid was 2 time champion Fernando Alonso,  the oldest driver in F1 in 2nd place, once again driving the Aston Martin car like a champ! On pole, crowd favorite Sergio Perez, who would be trying to finish 1st and take the points lead away from his fellow Red Bull Verstappen. 


Bottas #77 in qualifying

Further down the grid, the biggest surprises were from 7 time champ Lewis Hamilton in 13th after a poor qualifying, and Alonso's fellow Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll way down in 18th. If you didn't know, Lance's dad basically bought an F1 team and owns a major part of the Aston Martin company. I guess if I was rich enough I'd do that for my kids too! One big goal for F1 drivers is to beat your team mate, and since you both have identical cars, this is the easiest comparison between drivers to make. 

LeClerc in the wall in Q3, NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!  

Sergio Perez of Mexico takes pole!

So it was a good bit of drama in qualifying, and that meant that the race would likely hold some surprises! Stay tuned and we'll review how things went on Sunday for race day!

Red flag: Drivers must return to the pit lane


Red Flag, session will not be started, not enough time for cars to do a warm up lap and set a time


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