Perez on pole, Verstappen ninth as Leclerc crash ends qualifying · RaceFans

Sergio Perez secured pole position for the Miami Grand Prix after Charles Leclerc crashed in the final lap of qualifying, leaving Max Verstappen down in ninth place.

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix winner set the provisional pole time on his first Q3 run as team mate Verstappen abandoned his lap after an error. Leclerc spun out in the final minutes, bringing out a red flag that ended the session, dooming Verstappen to ninth place. Fernando Alonso will start second on the grid, with Carlos Sainz Jnr third for Ferrari.


Despite pre-event forecasts of rain, sunny skies greeted the drivers as the first phase of qualifying began in Miami. Valtteri Bottas set the initial pace with a 1’29.358, but Kevin Magnussen put his Haas on top with a time half a second quicker.

Verstappen headed out to post his first time on the soft tyres, going easily quickest, but was beaten by team mate Sergio Perez by a tenth of a second. Charles Leclerc put his Ferrari into second with his first flying lap of the session, with Fernando Alonso fourth in the Aston Martin.

Lewis Hamilton hit trouble on his first lap of the session, running wide at the hairpin on his first flying lap. Then on his in-lap, he almost collided with Magussen’s Haas on the way into the same hairpin, the Mercedes clipping the wall on the right hand side. The stewards announced they would investigate the incident after qualifying.

Verstappen returned to the top of the times with an improvement on his next lap, setting the fastest time of the weekend so far. Carlos Sainz Jnr moved into second in his Ferrari, less than a tenth quicker than Perez in third.

Heading into the final five minutes of the session, both Hamilton and Mercedes team mate George Russell found themselves in danger of elimination and needed to make their final flying laps count. Also in danger were the two McLarens of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris, with Logan Sargeant the final car set to be eliminated.

As the chequered flag flew, both Mercedes duly secured passage into Q2 by moving out of the drop zone, which dropped Yuki Tsunoda and Lance Stroll into elimination. The former was beaten by his team mate Nyck de Vries for the first time in a qualifying session this year.

Both McLarens also improved on their own times but failed to get out of the bottom five. Lando Norris fell short by just seven-hundredths of a second, and was told to sit tight in his car while his team checked none of his rivals had breached track limits, but nothing came of it. Sargeant was the final driver to miss the cut, eliminated slowest in the Williams at his home race.

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Q1 result

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The second session of qualifying began with both Verstappen and Perez heading out on fresh soft tyres. They were joined in doing so by Alonso’s Aston Martin, while the Mercedes pair of Hamilton and Russell opted to run on used sets of softs.

Verstappen went even faster on his first lap in Q2 than he did in Q1, setting a 1’27.110 to go comfortably to the top of the times. Perez’s first effort was two tenths of a second slower than his team mate’s, while Alonso was a further tenth-and-a-half behind after his first attempt of the session.

The Mercedes were well off the pace of Verstappen’s lap, a full second adrift. Russell was a tenth-and-a-half quicker than team mate Hamilton.

Then it was the turn of the Ferraris to take to the track, with both Leclerc and Sainz heading out on fresh soft tyres. Sainz was only fractionally slower than Verstappen with his first flying lap, moving into second place, while Leclerc’s first effort was only good enough for fifth behind Alonso.

With the minutes counting down, both Mercedes were sat in the drop zone for the second consecutive session. Also in need of improvement were Zhou Guanyu, Magnussen and Nyck de Vries in the AlphaTauri. In the rush to take to the track for the final time, Nico Hulkenberg appeared to be released by Haas directly in front of Alonso, who had been released himself a moment earlier.

Verstappen improved on his own best time to break under 1’27 for the first time, but Hamilton could only manage 13th on his final effort and was eliminated. Zhou and De Vries also could not improve by enough to secure their place in Q3, but Magnussen did secure a top ten berth with his final lap.

Russell narrowly claimed a place in Q3 by five hundredths of a second, ending the session in tenth place. With Magnussen and Russell through, that knocked both Albon and Hulkenberg out of the session in 11th and 12th places respectively.

Q2 result

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With Leclerc’s Ferrari the closest to Verstappen’s fastest Q2 lap, it seemed that Red Bull would face stiff competition in their efforts to secure a front row lockout. When the green light appeared to begin the final, Verstappen was the first driver out on the circuit, soon followed by team mate Perez – both on fresh sets of soft tyres.

Verstappen was the first over the line to begin his lap, but a mistake through the long turns six, seven and eight led him to abandon his first flying lap, while Perez set a provisional pole position time of 1’26.841. Alonso went second fastest on a used set of tyres, three tenths slower than the Red Bull driver, with Sainz sitting third after his first lap on a new set of softs.

Verstappen returned to the pits without setting a time, waiting until just over three minutes remained until venture back out with team mate Perez right behind him. The two Ferraris were the first over the line with just over two minutes on the clock to start their final laps, Leclerc first ahead of Sainz.

As Leclerc made his way around turn six, he lost the rear of his Ferrari and spun through 360 degrees, ending up in the barrier for the second time in consecutive days. The yellow flags flew, ruining the laps of all over drivers following behind him, including his team mate.

Moments later, the session was red flagged with only 1’36 remaining. With such limited time remaining, race director Niels Wittich declared that the session would not be resumed, confirming that Perez had secured pole position and leaving Verstappen down in ninth place after failing to have set a time in the final session.

Alonso claimed second on the grid for Aston Martin, with Sainz third for Ferrari. Magnussen took a provisional fourth place for Haas, but remains under investigation for his Q1 incident with Hamilton. Pierre Gasly took fifth place for Alpine, with Russell sixth and Leclerc seventh, but with a damaged Ferrari.

Esteban Ocon was eighth in the second Alpine, with Verstappen qualifying down in ninth and Valtteri Bottas tenth after his only run was spoiled by the red flag.

Q3 result

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2023 Miami Grand Prix

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