Sergio Perez said he was thrilled to take pole position for the Miami Grand Prix after what he described as his worst start to a race weekend so far this year.
The Red Bull driver was a second slower than team mate Max Verstappen in the opening practice session at the Miami International Autodrome. Although he halved that gap in the following session, in final practice Perez was still almost half a second off his flying team mate.
Verstappen continued to lead the way in qualifying, lapping a similar margin ahead of Perez in Q1 and Q2. But the world championship leader made a mistake at the beginning of his first run in Q3 and had to abandon his lap.
Perez set the quickest time initially while Verstappen languished in ninth. When Charles Leclerc crashed during his final run, a red flag brought an early end to the session, securing a second pole position of the season for Perez.
“It’s been my worst weekend up to qualifying, really,” Perez admitted. “I just couldn’t figure out how to put those tenths that I was missing all the time to Max and to the Ferraris.
“The track has been resurfaced since the first race in Miami last year and drivers found the grip levels changed throughout practice. Perez said he was still seeking a comfortable balance in his car as they went into qualifying.
“I was just resetting everything,” he explained. “We did a small change into qualifying and really everything became more alive. I think with this Tarmac we were playing a bit with the tools and we put a lap when it mattered.”
“It wasn’t coming together,” he admitted, “it was one of those weekends where I was struggling for balance, confidence. This Tarmac is very sensitive to temperature.”
With Verstappen starting ninth, Perez has an opportunity to take the lead in the points standings in tomorrow’s race. He said he is not getting distracted by the championship situation.
“Tomorrow is a new opportunity starting from pole,” he said. “We are the ones that have some [thing] to lose but we will go out there and try to enjoy this amazing crowd.”
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2023 Miami Grand Prix
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