Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc set the fastest time at the Miami Grand Prix first practice session.
The Monegasque is the current championship leader and he is facing a challenge from last season’s champion Max Verstappen, whose Red Bull team appears to have put their early season reliability issues behind them.
Leclerc and Verstappen were quickest out of the blocks as they set early fast times, but all drivers whittled away the time as they got used to a brand new track.
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Many of them struggled to anticipate the moves of their peers around the course, into and out of the pits, with a completely fresh layout taking time to master.
Before the race it was not clear whether Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton would be permitted - or willing - to race as the FIA repeated its warnings that it would not be allowed for drivers to wear jewellery while competing, but he made it out onto the track and set the eighth-fastest time on softs.
His teammate George Russell continued his impressive form with the second-fastest time, but there remains plenty to be done this weekend.
The session was not without incident as Esteban Ocon was investigated for a near-collision with Russell early on in the pits, Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas span out on turn 7, and Carlos Sainz narrowly avoided a crash with a wall only to puncture his tyre.
Amongst the drama and confusion, and after Bottas caused a red flag, it was the season’s dominant drivers so far who finished in the top three with Leclerc ahead of Russell and then Verstappen, with session two due later in the day.
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