Four for Fernando in 2023.
Fernando converted his front-row start to a fourth podium finish of the year, by taking a comfortable third in the Miami Grand Prix.
The race itself was a straightforward one-stop affair, with the only two realistic strategy options being Medium-Hard or Hard-Medium one-stops.
The team opted to split their strategy across the two cars, with Fernando starting on Mediums and Lance on Hards.
With no race interruptions, it became a story of track position, tyre preservation and making overtakes.
Both Fernando and Lance were able to make use of the strong tyre life characteristics of the AMR23 to deliver their good performances in the race with some great moves on the track.
Hear from the drivers and Performance Director Tom McCullough as an exhilarating weekend comes to a close.
The Grand Prix
"This was a tricky race to manage. Both Lance and Fernando drove faultlessly and maximised every opportunity – for Fernando, that resulted in a third-place finish and some valuable points; for Lance, it was difficult trying to cut through the traffic, but he pulled off some fantastic passes. It was frustrating to just miss out on a points-scoring position at the end." Tom briefly explains how the race played out, and highlighted the great effort by the drivers on the track.
"I had a bit of a lonely afternoon out there, but I enjoyed my race. There was nothing I could really do against Max [Verstappen] and Sergio [Perez] but, happily, there was no pressure today from behind, so we'll take this result." Fernando describes the race from his side, where once he had displaced Carlos Sainz's Ferrari, he was able to comfortably run at his own pace without trouble from behind.
"It was a tough race today and we found it difficult to make a huge amount of progress from 18th on the grid. The car felt good, but I was stuck in a DRS train with a lot of traffic around me." Lance explains how his race panned out. With lots of cars in front of him, he made up solid progress in the early stages before being in the middle of a train of cars which limited his progress.
"Fernando's race was all about managing the strategy from the Medium to the Hard tyre. It worked out well for him: Ferrari went for the undercut with Sainz but we elected to balance the stints and overtake him on track. After that, Fernando was able to consolidate third place and pull comfortably clear of the cars behind." Tom asseses Fernando's successful race. While Sainz initially got by Fernando in the pitstop phase, the two-time World Champion was able to get by his countryman on the track and pull away to a handy seven-second lead.
"We've taken four podium finishes from the first five races – and only missed out on a podium in Baku by eight tenths of a second – so it's been a fantastic start to our season." Fernando gives his assessment on the start of his time with AMF1 Team. He sits a comfortable third in the Drivers' Championship, with more F1 podiums than his last seven seasons combined.
"We opted for a long stint on the Hard tyres and managed those well; it was then just a case of deciding when to pit to make sure there were enough laps left to maximise the pace of the Medium compound." The gaps in the midfield were tight, meaning choosing when to make the pitstop to make the most of the middle compound of tyre was key to a result, as Lance explains.
"With no DNFs and no Safety Cars, it was difficult for Lance to make progress through the field. Add low degradation to the mix and it became even trickier – because a lot of cars were able to run at a similar pace. But he managed his race extremely well, was typically brave on the brakes and made up plenty of places to finish 12th." It was a challenging race overall for Lance, as Tom explains. He did not give up until the end though, and was just a couple of seconds away from the points-paying positions after making some bold overtakes, providing action right to the chequered flag.
"One day, when there's an opportunity to win, we need to make sure we're in the best position to capitalise. And that's exactly what we're doing right now." Fernando wants to continue to be ready to pounce when any chance of a strong result comes his way. He aims to carry this form forwards into the triple-header coming up soon, including his home race.
"I had some fun overtaking Alex [Albon] into Turn One but, in hindsight, we could have boxed a few laps earlier to try and catch 10th position. It's been a weekend to learn from – which we'll do – and I'm looking forward to getting back out in Imola." Of the many overtakes Lance made in the race, he picks out his one with Albon as his highlight. He also looks to take the lessons from this weekend forward, and aims to bounce back at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari.
"We conclude this double-header having scored 37 points and maintained second position in the Constructors' Championship. A huge thanks to the whole team for their incredible efforts over the past few weeks. We will regroup and come back just as strong for the triple-header, which kicks off later this month." The final word of the weekend comes from Tom, who credits the team for its incredible well-rewarded efforts and looks ahead to the triple-header beginning with the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in two weeks' time.
#14 | Fernando Alonso | Free Practice & Qualifying
#18 | Lance Stroll | Free Practice & Qualifying
"It was a very good qualifying session. Things have been a bit up and down for the last few events – Baku was very difficult – but, over a regular weekend format, we’ve been able to experiment with a few different options on the car." Fernando explains that by working together with the team, on a normal race weekend, he has been able to understand the AMR23 that bit more that helped to deliver today's result, with a front row start waiting on Sunday.
"Qualifying didn’t go my way today. We made the call to try and get through Q1 running just one set of Softs." Lance sadly was not able to make it out of the first part of qualifying for the first time this season. He outlines the strategy that was adopted for the session.
"This was a particularly tricky day to manage. In FP3, we had to deal with a change in wind direction and a rapidly changing track surface while also trying to find a good race set-up after two stop-start sessions yesterday. All credit to Fernando, who drove with typical fiery spirit to qualify second – it was a great effort." Mike summises a challenging day of running in Miami. The wind was a key factor throughout the day, and he also pays tribute to Fernando following his fine result.
"We put it all together for qualifying – the car felt good. And there was still a lot more pace in the car because my Q3 lap was done on used Softs. On my second run, on fresh rubber, I was already a few tenths up – but then the yellow flags came out." A red flag in the final minutes of Q3 for Charles Leclerc concluded the session early. As Fernando explains, his incomplete run was his only on fresh Soft tyres in the segment.
"With the benefit of hindsight, that wasn’t the right call: other teams fitted a second set and saw big improvements. But these things happen – and Fernando got into Q2 using just the one set, so it was possible." Lance explains that with hindsight the strategy was not the optimal one during Q1 and, despite only being a few tenths off Fernando's best time, he just missed the cut in what was an incredibly tight qualifying session.
"But we were too aggressive with our tyre strategy in Q1, choosing to keep both drivers on used Softs for their second runs. It was a marginal call, and it didn’t work out: the track ramped up and drivers on fresh rubber found a lot of laptime. It meant that Lance finished the session an unrepresentative 18th overall." Mike explains the Q1 strategy further, how it was close to determine the strategy choice, and explains that Lance very much finds himself out of position on the grid for the race, so should be poised to make up ground.
"The result gives us a lot of confidence for tomorrow – Sunday is usually our day; we take care of the tyres and have good race pace. Plus, starting further up the grid always makes things a little easier." Fernando is raring to go in the Grand Prix, and Sunday is what often plays into one of the strengths of the AMR23 – tyre preservation. The temperatures have been very high in Miami across the whole weekend, so how teams and drivers manage their tyres could decide how the results play out.
"I’m just focusing on the positives: our car feels good and our race pace is usually very competitive. Tomorrow is when the points are scored – and there’s a long race ahead." After scoring points from the pitlane in last year's race, Lance looks to the positives ahead of Sunday's Grand Prix. The strengths of the AMR23 could pay dividends in the 57-lap race.
"If we’d done a better job, he would have comfortably made it into the next two sessions. We’ll learn from that for the future. We’ve already seen that fortunes can swing wildly at this track, and we’ll be giving it everything to get both cars in the points tomorrow." Mike looks ahead to the Grand Prix, where everything is still up for grabs. The team targets points with both cars in the race.
"Getting on the podium will still be difficult but we’ll just do our race – it’s going to be tough but we’ll enjoy it." After a trio of podiums to begin the year, Fernando outlines that it will be tricky to return to the rostrum in the Grand Prix tomorrow and is keen to enjoy Sunday in Miami and put a great show on for the fans.
"We made the most of both practice sessions today and came away with a better understanding of how the changes to the track will impact our running." Lance begins by highlighting that there was a lot to learn in Friday's running. The Miami International Autodrome has been resurfaced, meaning that there were a lot of unknowns coming into the event.
"It was a relatively routine Friday practice for us after the different format in Baku. We've had more time on track to learn about the car and the tyres this weekend, despite some red flags disrupting the sessions." Fernando explains that despite two red flags across the afternoon, plenty of laps were able to be completed. The Azerbaijan Grand Prix last weekend had just one practice session for the whole Sprint format weekend, while this week reverts to the traditional format, meaning substantial data can be accumulated ahead of qualifying and the race.
"We know it will be incredibly hot here – probably the hottest track temperatures of the year – so tyre degradation will be a big factor and something we need to monitor across the weekend." One of the key factors of the weekend in Miami are the track temperatures. Lance highlights that the intense heat will make it all the more of a challenge to preserve tyres in the race, and to keep them in their crucial operating windows.
"So far, I think the new track surface seems to be better, but we were basically just cleaning the racing line today. It seems when you move away from it, it's very slippery – so that could make overtaking difficult." There is very little track action on this weekend outside of Formula One® and Fernando explains that only the racing line has been rubbered in at all, explaining potential overtaking difficulties in the Grand Prix.
"Qualifying tomorrow is important, but our strength is normally on Sunday, so we'll see what we can do." Fernando explains that the strength of the AMR23 has traditionally been in race pace. There are also changes to the DRS zones – two of them have been shortened – meaning that overtaking could prove even trickier this year.
"But the car felt good; we made some changes after FP1 which improved performance for FP2, so I'm feeling positive heading into Saturday." Lance explains his optimism for the rest of the weekend ahead. Both drivers will be looking to make the most of the hour of running in FP3 on Saturday before the crucial qualifying session.
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