Lando Norris, McLaren, Miami International Autodrome, 2023

McLaren slowest in Miami – but how quick could Aston Martin have been?

Lap time watch: 2023 Miami Grand Prix

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McLaren arrived in Miami hoping to reap greater rewards from the floor upgrade they introduced at the previous race.

Second practice gave a promising indication they would, as Lando Norris set the sixth-fastest time. But Saturday proved a huge disappointment.

Only Nyck de Vries was slower than the two MCL60 drivers in final practice. In qualifying, neither McLaren driver was able to progress beyond Q1, while every other team got at least one of their cars into the next stage.

That leaves McLaren as the slowest team in terms of outright pace this weekend, beaten by AlphaTauri, who were just seven-hundredths of a second quicker. After that there was a significant chunk of time – over half a second – to the next team, Williams.

All teams are lapping the Miami International Autodrome quicker than they did 12 months ago, thanks to the complete resurfacing of the track which has increased its grip on the racing line, if not off it. Even McLaren are lapping 1.2 seconds faster than last year.

Aston Martin has regularly been the most improved team at races so far this year, but there was little sign of that going into qualifying. Over the course of practice, four other teams had posted larger year-on-year improvements than Aston Martin.

However the familiar pace of the AMR23s reappeared in qualifying – at least, in Fernando Alonso’s hands. After Lance Stroll went out in Q1, Alonso not only reached the final stage, but bagged a place on the front row.

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It was an impressive rebound from their struggles in Baku, where a DRS glitch kept their cars out of the top five in qualifying for the grand prix. “Here, with a more normal weekend, we’ve been experimenting a little bit with set-up and different options on the car,” Alonso explained. “I think we put it all together for qualifying, the car felt good.”

But the real pace of the Aston Martin hasn’t been seen. Alonso did his flying lap in Q3 on used tyres, and that was good enough to put him second, within four-tenths of a second of the pole-winning Red Bull of Sergio Perez.

While there seems a strong chance Max Verstappen could have set a quicker pole position time than his team mate, Alonso likely had a chunk of time in hand as well.

“Obviously the Q3 was stopped with a red flag at the end, so we don’t know what lap time, at the end, everyone could achieve,” he said.

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“I think there was a lot of pace in the car still because the Q3 lap was made on a used tyre on the first attempt. Up to the yellow flag I was a few tenths already better than the lap before.

“So I think that there was something more than the car. But obviously we take the first row of the grid and let’s see what we can do.”

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2023 Miami Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    2 comments on “McLaren slowest in Miami – but how quick could Aston Martin have been?”

    1. Zak Brown triumphs on home soil.

    2. Of course, general evolution within largely stable technical regs also impacts overall lap time, but unsurprising that all teams went quicker in quali trim.

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