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Miami GP Qualifying: Verstappen nips pole from Leclerc

Miami GP Qualifying: Verstappen denies Leclerc again, Sainz third

Miami GP Qualifying: Verstappen nips pole from Leclerc

Max Verstappen took pole for the 2024 Miami Grand Prix, his first at the American venue, denying Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who was second with Carlos Sainz taking third.

It was the triple Formula 1 Champion’s sixth consecutive pole in 2024, his 38th career pole, and he managed to make it happen despite failing to improve on his final Q3 run.

Nevertheless his effort was enough to put his Red Bull on the top sport for Sunday’s race as Leclerc also failed to improve in his second run.

Sainz put his Ferrari third fastest at the end of a tricky session where managing tyre temperatures was crucial for a decent lap around the Miami track.

Sergio Perez was fourth fastest in the sister Red Bull ahead of Lando Norris who was fifth as the lead McLaren driver.

It would be a disappointing result for McLaren especially as it seems that their upgraded MCL38 was a decent piece of kit and should’ve been fighting for a front row start, but they failed to deliver it.

Despite not having the full upgrade package like his teammate, Oscar Piastri was not far off Norris and was less than a tenth off in fifth. A decent effort from the Australian.

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were seventh and eighth respectively having made the top ten following the disappointment of Friday’s Sprint Qualifying.

Nico Hulkenberg again was excellent in ninth with Yuki Tsunoda regaining the upper hand over Daniel Ricciardo who was out of Q1.

Verstappen: Extremely difficult to be consistent with the car feeling in Miami

Verstappen reflected on his qualifying in Miami, he said: “We definitely improved the car a bit. I don’t know what it is, every single year we come here, I find it extremely difficult to be consistent with the car feeling, the tyre feeling over one lap.

“It’s super hard to make sure that Sector 1 feels good, then Sector 3 at the end of the lap. To make that happens together is incredibly tough.

“Again today, it was about finding that balance. I think we did OK. It wasn’t the most enjoyable lap of my career because of how slippery it is and you’re not very confident on the lap. But we are on pole, and that’s the most important thing,” he explained.

As for his race pace, he added: “It definitely feels a little bit more under control , which I was looking for. Hopefully that helps us out tomorrow.

“We know what we, and I, did wrong at the start [in the Sprint]. I’m sure if I do my things correctly, then it should be alright,” the Dutchman concluded.

“It felt so much on the limit,” second-placed Leclerc added after failing to beat Verstappen. “It was very close until Q3 where when we started to push for the last one or two tenths, we started to lose the tyres in sector two and three. Overheating them quite a bit.

“So today that’s where we lost a bit of time. However, the race is long tomorrow, this morning [in the Sprint] we showed a good pace so I hope we can put Max under a bit more pressure,” he maintained.

Asked about his chance of taking the fight to Verstappen at the start of the grand prix, he said: “This, and keeping the DRS if we don’t get past at Turn One. DRS is super powerful here and if we lose it after the first lap it’s super difficult to come back without DRS. So we must not lose it.

“But first of all it will be the start. This morning we had a good one and tomorrow I’ll try to have an even better one,” the Monegasque concluded.

Third-placed Sainz commented: “A bit of a shame about the Sprint, I couldn’t get past Daniel but I knew the pace was there.

“I knew with a clean Qualy I could be in the top three. We managed to do some clean laps,” he added. “It’s really tricky around here with a new soft. Every lap is a bit of adventure. With the wind you don’t know what will happen. Keeping all that in mind, the laps were not too bad.

“You always finish the lap and think you could have gone so much faster, but it’s almost impossible to put a perfect clean lap around here,” Sainz concluded.

Q3: Verstappen does not improve, but bags pole

The Mercedes drivers were the first to start their flying laps, Hamilton leading Russell, with Perez following suit, while Norris again opted for the Medium tyres!

The first run saw Verstappen go fastest from Leclerc and Sainz. Piastri was fourth ahead of Perez in fifth as Norris was sixth on the Medium tyres.

Sainz and Hulkenberg had a moment, the latter accusing the Ferrari driver of impeding, but the stewards saw no need to hand out any penalties.

The final four minutes of Q3 and all ten drivers set out on track for the final time to set the top ten grid positions for the third ever Miami Grand Prix.

Norris this time had a new set of Soft tyres on his McLaren.

With Q3 over, Verstappen kept pole despite not improving, his best lap time being a 1:27.241, 0.141s faster than Leclerc in second.

Sainz was 0.214s off the pace in third, with Perez just 0.005s behind the Spanish driver in fourth.

Norris could not deliver on McLaren’s early weekend promise and was fifth fastest, 0.353s off pole despite admirably making it into Q3 on Medium tyres.

Piastri was just 0.081s behind Norris in sixth in he not-fully-upgraded McLaren and was 0.392s ahead of Russell, seventh in the Mercedes.

Hamilton was outqualified again by Russell and was eighth fastest, 0.040s behind his teammate.

Hulkenberg and Tsunoda were ninth and tenth respectively.

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Q2: Mercedes make the top ten this time

The remaining 15 drivers lined up in the pitlane for another time waiting for the green light to head out and start Q2.

Contrary to their rivals, both Red Bulls opted for a used set of Soft tyres for their first runs in Q2 as Verstappen being one of the early runners this time around.

That meant Verstappen and Perez were fifth and eighth fastest after their first runs. The order was: Leclerc – Piastri – Norris – Sainz – Verstappen – Hulkenberg – Tsunoda – Perez – Russell – Gasly.

Alex Albon brought out a brief Yellow flag as he missed the apex at Turn 17 and went straight as he complained about his tyres being destroyed.

With four minutes remaining, the second runs commenced and Norris took a risk and bolted a used set of Mediums on his MCL38. If you recall he set his best time in Sprint Qualifying on Mediums and in SQ2.

At the end of Q2, Leclerc led the top ten into Q3 with a 1:27.533, 0.033s ahead of Verstappen in second, 0.164s ahead of Hamilton in third.

The first to miss out on Q3 was Lance Stroll, 11th fastest in the Aston Martin 0.022s slower than Hulkenberg in 10th.

Pierre Gasly was 12th fastest in the Alpine, 0.102s behind Stroll and 0.047s ahead of teammate Esteban Ocon, 13th fastest in the sister car.

Albon was 14th fastest, while Fernando Alonso who ran out of new Softs was only 15th. Both Mercedes drivers made it into Q3 this time.

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Q1: No more heroics for Ricciardo

With seconds until the start of Q1, the cars lined up in the pitlane waiting for the green light to head out on track whose surface had a temperature of 49 degrees Celsius as the air temperature was 29 degrees.

Zhou Guanyu was immediately under investigation as Sauber sent him out in the way of Daniel Ricciardo in the VCARB.

Unlike Sprint qualifying where the Medium tyre was mandatory in the first two stages, tyre choice was free now and all the teams sent their drivers out on Softs, a mix of new and used sets.

Verstappen took his time in getting out on track, and started his running when most drivers have already put in their first timed laps, having the track almost for himself.

He immediately reported that his clutch didn’t “sound good out of the pits”, but the team assured him all was ok.

With the first runs in, the order was: Verstappen leading Sainz and Leclerc with Perez fourth fastest. Piastri and Norris were ninth and 13th.

Soon the second runs – with fresh Softs – were underway and the times continued to improve several drivers going faster from the second time of asking.

Sainz topped Verstappen’s time and Norris improved to go second fastest. Ricciardo slightly touched the wall out of Turn 16 while Verstappen complained about an Alpine blocking him. Logan Sargeant complained about Tsunoda ruining his lap as well.

With final runs in, Verstappen was fastest with a 1:27.689, 0.083s faster than Perez in second with Norris third fastest over two tenths off the pace.

While Alonso just made it into Q2, Bottas missed out by 0.010s and will start the race from 16th with Sargeant 0.024s behind the Finn in 17th.

After the heroics of Friday and the Sprint race earlier, Ricciardo failed to make it into Q2 and will lineup 18th fastest on Sunday’s grand prix grid. He will start from last though due to his grid penalty from China.

Kevin Magnussen was 19th fastest with Zhou 20th.

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