Fernando Alonso‘s last victory in Formula 1 came almost exactly 10 years ago and he will have a big opportunity to lead the Miami Grand Prix if he can beat Sergio Perez off the line.
Alonso benefitted from Charles Leclerc‘s crash at the end of Q3 to qualify second, behind pole-sitter Perez.
Nevertheless, his first run was done on used soft tyres, so to only be 0.361 adrift of Perez was impressive, especially when teammate Lance Stroll qualified down in 18th.
Victory number 33 for Alonso has not been possible in the last nine years and it’s still a long shot for him to win in Miami, so how realistic is the prospect?
Get ahead of Perez and fight
Alonso has stated he wants to lead the race and will go for it on the opening lap, just like he did at the 2023 Saudi Arabian GP.
He led three laps on that occasion but the Miami International Autodrome is much harder to overtake at compared to Jeddah.
Aston Martin have also only been, on average, 3mph slower than Red Bull in the speed trap at the end of the long back straight this weekend, when this number was at least three times as much earlier in the season.
Rain overnight means the cars will be hard to get off the line and there should be equal grip on both sides of the grid.
Alonso has been a demon starter for the last two decades in F1, so a good launch and there’s no reason why he can’t at least attempt a move on Perez.
If it rains, track position becomes even more important so if the two-time world champion can get ahead in the wet, then the win will very much be on.
How far can Verstappen climb up the grid?
On paper, in the dry, the Miami GP should be similar to Jeddah, where Max Verstappen started in 15th after a drivetrain failure in qualifying.
The Dutchman has admitted second place is the minimum target, which underlines how much belief he has in the RB19 as all F1 drivers generally play down their chances.
Getting stuck in a DRS train could be the only issue for Verstappen and it could get fun when he comes up to George Russell, starts sixth, after their little spat in Baku.
A well timed safety car and a pace advantage over Perez could put Verstappen in the running for the win, so don’t rule out an on-track battle between the Red Bulls towards the end of the race.
It will be fascinating to see what the team do in that situation, if Verstappen is behind but with more speed than his teammate.
Not an easy one-stop race
Aside from Bahrain, all of the races have been relatively comfortable one-stoppers, so strategy options have been limited.
But, the C4 soft tyre has had great performance in Miami, which the teams will want to utilise, and the hot track temperatures of over 40 degrees Celcius will punish the Pirelli rubber.
The medium looks like the best race tyre as the C2 hard does have a pace disadvantage of over one second compared to the soft and half of that to the C3 medium.
A small tweak to the pit lane has seen the pit lane time loss reduce to around 20 seconds as well, so it will be very inviting to go for an aggressive two-stop.
What we will probably see is one driver going for an undercut versus their rival, which triggers lots of pit stops around the Lap 10-15 mark.
It’s a 57-lap race so even the hard tyres will be on the limit and anyone going for a one-stop would have to go medium-hard.