Formula One returned to Miami this weekend for the first of three races in the United States and while Red Bull once again dominated with a brilliant 1-2 finish, not everything went to script under the Miami sun.
Last week's rankings are in brackets.
1. Red Bull Racing (1)
There was hardly a sour note on Red Bull's weekend in Miami with the team topping every session except for a weak Free Practice One when all teams were struggling to laydown rubber on the green track.
Putting together solid lap times Sergio Perez put himself on pole in qualifying getting in a clean opening lap in Q3 while his teammate Max Verstappen was forced to settle for P9 after a flying lap was cut short by the red flag ending the session.
All eyes were on Verstappen's RB19 on Race Day starting with predictions flying trying to figure out what lap the Red Bulls would sit at 1-2 for the first time. To everyone's surprise it only took 14 laps for Verstappen to sit behind Perez and he officially lead the race on lap 19. Ultimately claiming victory five seconds ahead of Perez and 26 seconds faster than the rest of the field and becoming the first driver since Niki Lauda at the 1984 French Grand Prix to win a race from P9.
2. Mercedes (2)
With all the moaning complaining about the car that the team has done, basically since the launch of the W14, it was a surprise to everyone when Mercedes topped the standings during Free Practice One at Miami. George Russell's P1, with teammate Lewis Hamilton only 0.212 behind him sparked hope in the hearts of fans that were eager to see a tighter battle at the top of the field.
That hope was albeit short-lived, a by-product of a brand new track with minimal grip and some good quick laps eked out right before the chequered flag. Middling results in the remaining free practice sessions proved worrying, further exacerbated by Hamilton's failure to get a good lap in during Q2 on Saturday, ultimately missing out on Q3.
Both drivers put in a good fight on Race Day, with Russell making moves up the line-up in hopes of getting close to the podium. An easy overtake past Kevin Magnussen and a short battle against Pierre Gasly proved that while the W14 is not a championship-winning car, it is still solidly ahead of the mid-field, earning him a P4 finish. Hamilton made good progress from his P13 starting position, hampered somewhat from being caught in a 10-car DRS train for the early part of the race. A good tyre strategy made it possible for him to progress, ultimately finishing in P6.
3. Aston Martin (3)
Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso had vastly different weekends for Aston Martin in Miami. The Canadian managed to keep with the pace on Friday finishing in P8 in both Free Practice sessions, however that same form did not return on Saturday with Stroll getting P14 in Free Practice Three, not adapting to the changing track like the rest of the field.
Qualifying was where it ultimately went pear-shaped, with Stroll unable to make it out of Q1, forced to start in 18th on the grid while the Spaniard put together an impressive first lap only four tenths down on Perez to start on the front row of the grid for the second time in 2023.
Alonso's Race Day was a lonely one, duelling with Carlos Sainz in the opening laps, the two time world champion showed just how good the AMR23 is besting him and holding off George Russell by nearly seven seconds. However it gave him time to watch out his teammate on the screens around the track as Stroll made his way through the field, pulling off several overtakes to finish in P12 just two seconds out of the points.
It is difficult to pinpoint what exactly went wrong for Ferrari this week, especially when compared to the team's performance in Baku last week. What can be said is that the temperamentality of the car has really had an impact on both drivers' performance and confidence.
For Charles Leclerc, it was definitely a weekend to forget, having spun out on Turn 7 during on both Friday and Saturday during Free Practice Two and Qualifying respectively. An early crash in Q3 managed to somewhat shuffle the starting grid, with Leclerc's own mediocre lap landing him in P7. He is unable to improve on that position during the race.
Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz was quick to set solid flying lap time during Qualifying, managing to snag P3 before his teammate's crash ended Q3 prematurely. Unfortunately he was unable to hold onto that spot during the race, hampered by ultimately falling behind George Russell while struggling with his tyres and being doled a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
After a horrendous weekend in Baku, the all French line up at Alpine could breathe a sigh of relief at a relatively successful weekend cementing their place as the bridge between the top four teams and the rest of the field.
Throughout practice both Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly looked confident adapting to the ever changing Miami circuit with ease trading places as to who the top performing driver was on Friday while Ocon just eked out Gasly in FP3 on Saturday by 0.021 seconds. However in qualifying it was Gasly who managed to cross the line with better pace, slotting the Alpine onto the third row on the grid alongside Russell in P5 while Ocon settled for P8 two tenths off his teammate's pace.
With the car not quite having the pace of the top four teams it was only a matter of time before Gasly and Ocon were eaten by the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull behind them however, Gasly managed to hold on to the back of Russell for a decent stint before coming into the pits, while Ocon once again was in tyre management mode starting on the hard compound but managed the tyres expertly to maximise the late pitstop. As a result Alpine was able to leave Miami with double points for the first time since Jeddah with a P8 and P9 finish.
6. Alpha Tauri(5)
Alpha Tauri's weekend was once again characterised by the dichotomy of a driver out-performing the car while the other one struggles to find his footing.
Nyck De Vries did not have a smooth weekend, characterised by a struggle to get a grip on the slippery new track of the Miami International Autodrome; an issue that plagued many of the drivers. However, he was solid in qualifying, managing to make it out of Q1 ahead of his teammate for the first time this season. An early collision with Lando Norris in Turn 1 during the first lap had him falling down the order. A valiant fight from P20 upwards, he managed to fight his way back up to P18.
Yuki Tsunoda's performance during the Free Practice and Qualifying was nothing to write home about, ultimately starting behind his teamamte in P17. It is during the race that he shone, making up six places and finding himself battling it out for points during the final few laps, but ultimately finishing in P11 once again, for the third time this season.
The lone American team on the grid's first of three home races this season can easily be written off as a success with Kevin Magnussen showing his class at the Miami International Autodrome.
The same couldn't be said for Nico Hulkenberg who in his first session in Miami crashed out after 14 laps while still managing to put together a lap good enough for P9. The remaining practice sessions went off without a hitch with both drivers adjusting to the track and showing their maturity on a circuit that played to the VF-23 more so than Baku and in no moment was that more apparent than in qualifying when Magnussen rocketed up to P4 for a second row start for the Danish driver.
While Magnussen didn't get the best start on Sunday, plummeting two places down the grid off the line. His race was defined by a competitive battle against the Ferrari of Leclerc going tit for tat in the corners and coming off the better until lap 14 where Leclerc got the better of him, and Haas made the call to bring him into the pits. Hulkenberg on the other hand spent the race out of the points fighting with Albon and Zhou ultimately settling for P15 while Magnussen picked up his second point of the season with a solid P10 finish ahead of Tsunoda and Stroll.
Hometown hero Logan Sargeant likely hoped that the energy of the local crowd would help inject some new life into his season. However it seems like even he was unable to outrun the Miami Grand Prix's active hostility towards rookies.
Any progress and understanding of the track that the Miami local gained during Free Practice and Qualifying was likely washed away by the rain that hit on Saturday evening. Sargeant wound up picking up damage in Lap 1 from getting too close to Stroll and requiring an early pit stop to replace the front wing. From there he found little opportunity to move up the order, remaining solidly in P20 throughout the race.
Teammate Alex Albon fared slightly better, albeit it was still a step down from his performance last week. Some close finishes, only hundredths of a second behind impressive drives by Bottas and Hulkenberg during Free Practice and an 11th-place starting position proved that there was no egregious deficit in pace since Baku. Albon ultimately finishes the race in in P14, and will likely be hoping for some oncoming upgrades packages to add some more pace to the car moving forward.
9. Alfa Romeo(10)
Despite not finishing in the points Alfa Romeo can leave Miami with several positives as the car finally starts to look competitive amongst the midfield. With middling performances in the practice sessions it looked like another weekend where the car wouldn't come close to making it out of Q2 until Valtteri Bottas managed to slip into P7 in FP3 ahead of both Mercedes and Aston Martin cars.
Qualifying turned out to be a promising affair with both cars cruising into Q2 and in the second session with Zhou Guanyu unlikely to put a strong enough lap gave Bottas a tow on his final lap to sneak into Q3 for the first time this season, however, Bottas was unable to start a qualifying lap and was resigned to start in 10th alongside Verstappen.
Sunday didn't prove fruitful points wise but Bottas showed some of the form fans have come to know him for, jumping Verstappen on the start, however had to quickly give up the position once the reigning world champion kicked into gear. Ultimately Alfa Romeo's battle was with Hulkenberg's Haas and the Williams of Albon with Bottas edging out the pair to finish in P13 while Zhou lagged a couple of seconds behind in P16.
After their double points finishes in Australia and successful outing in Azerbaijan, Miami proved to be a reality check for McLaren, highlighting many of the car's weaknesses. Some promising lap times in the first two Free Practice sessions proved ultimately unhelpful, unable to transcend the car's fundamental incompatibility with the track.
Oscar Piastri, looking to turn a new page after a stomach bug severely handicapped his race in Baku, experienced brake pedal problems that plagued him for majority of the race, while Lando Norris suffered floor damage from his early encounter with De Vries in Lap 1. Any early overtakes were quickly lost as both drivers were forced to put more focus on keeping the mechanical issues in check.
Solid performances by their rivalling midfield teams, who managed to find pace during the race also did not help Norris and Piastri's campaign to move up the field, ultimately finishing in P17 and P19 respectively.