Formula 1 Racing

What the sprint race and qualifying tell us about the 2024 F1 Miami Grand Prix

Despite winning the Miami sprint, it was far from smooth running for Verstappen

Thanks to Formula 1 scheduling two successive sprint events early in the 2024 campaign, there’s now enough evidence to say the latest sprint tweaks have made things worse. No matter how hard TV commentators may screech otherwise…

It’s a very long time since the initial sprint format meant F1 got that Copse clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at the 2021 British Grand Prix, or that Daniel Ricciardo victory for McLaren at Monza later that same year.

Now, the latest changes mean any jeopardy facing Verstappen and his Red Bull squad – which was really there earlier in Miami on Saturday – over race stints around the Hard Rock Stadium is depressingly reduced.

F1 points to its elevated overall weekend TV viewing figures to justify the business case for sprint weekends. And this isn’t an argument for abandoning them altogether. It’s just now the ability for teams to alter car set-ups post-sprint race means if a dominant squad does find rare unhappy ground, as Red Bull did on Friday evening and early Saturday afternoon here, now it can recover.

And it can do so with Verstappen starting Sunday’s main race from pole. There’s plenty of data and intrigue to cover when it comes to forecasting today’s event, but judging by everything that went down in Miami yesterday there’s just no sugar coating what can be said about who is favourite…

Verstappen should have it even easier in the race (again)

On lap 10 of the 19-tour sprint contest, Verstappen told his engineer Gianpiero Lambiase that his balance and tyre degradation aboard his RB20 was “terrible” with “zero rear grip”. He then said afterwards his car had “a bit too much oversteer”.

But Verstappen was left feeling “very happy with this new format – that at least you can make a few changes” thanks to those relaxed parc ferme rules. “Otherwise, you are stuck with it and basically it can ruin your weekend,” he added.

Despite winning the Miami sprint, it was far from smooth running for Verstappen

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Behind in second in the sprint, Charles Leclerc reckoned Ferrari had “similar degradation” in the race pace stakes compared to Red Bull, which he upgraded to “a bit of a tyre advantage” in the post-sprint race press conference.

Tyre degradation is of course the major factor in this hot, sweaty event – although compared to some places it’s relatively low and a one-stop GP is expected. The…

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