George Russell is at the top of the Times for Mercedes in opening practice


George Russell confirmed Mercedes’ recovery from their early season problems as they topped the second free practice on Friday for this week’s early Miami Grand Prix.

Making the most of the credibility issues for world champion Max Verstapen and the Red Bull team, the 24-year-old Britt lapped the best in one minute and 29.938 seconds, beating Ferrari’s championship leader Charles Lackler by 0.106.

His performance suggests that, following four poor early season races, Silver Arrows’ aerodynamic upgrade package was working.

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Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was third, tenth, slightly ahead of seven-time McLaren champion Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton was released late to attend the event with his nose ring following a clampdown on ‘driver bling’, he discarded all his other jewelry shortly before the opening session.

In a session interrupted by two red flags on a hot, dry day at the new Miami International Autodrome, Fernando Alonso finished fifth for Alpine over McLaren’s Lando Norris and Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasley.

Lacklerk topped the standings ahead of Russell in the opening morning session, but Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sanz crashed again in the afternoon, unable to repeat the feat.

In the face of an enthusiastic sellout crowd at the Miami Gardens, the season began with Esteban O’Connor setting the pace on the media, with the track cooling down to 44 degrees following a fierce morning session at the top by Laklerk.

It did not last long for the Alpine driver, as he overtook the Sanz shortly before Leclerc received the command, and Ferrari’s men traded the fastest laps.

Worstapen missed the initial action as the Red Bull decided to change its gearbox after hitting the wall during the first session.

Voltaire Bottas of Alfa Romeo was also inactive after the morning accident.

Perez, in the second Red Bull, managed to split Ferrari 23 minutes after Senze triggered the second red flag of the day when he bounced back into obstacles at turn 14.

He was insecure, but after the shocks in Melbourne and Emola, it was another blow to his confidence.

After a 12-minute delay, during which Perez’s crew assisted the world champion’s car, Worstapen emerged to join the field and was called back to the pits.

“I can’t run,” said Worstappen, who was almost involved in a collision with Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin while he was struggling.

He got back on track, but the rear brakes of his car overheated and caught fire – as the main rival Lakler hit the Swift at 1: 30.044 and overtook Russell in just 1: 29.938, a lap that confirmed the Silver Arrows revival. Curry.

With 20 minutes left, Russell Lacklerk and Perez led Hamilton to fourth and Verstapen were frustrated without a timely lap. Their problem was diagnosed as a hydraulics problem.

Another red flag followed, with 12 to go, when Nicholas Latifi stopped pulling at his Williams before the final provocation of the action.

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