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Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen leaves the garage during the qualifying session for the 2023 Miami Formula One Grand Prix at the Miami International Autodrome in Miami Gardens, Florida, on May 6, 2023. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / POOL / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

F1 Qualifying report: Miami Grand Prix

Find out what happened in qualifying at the Miami International Autodrome

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A shock red flag defined the end of a qualifying session that put Sergio Perez on pole ahead of Fernando Alonso.

Perez Red Bull Miami
Perez with Red Bull team boss Christian Horner in the garage during F1 qualifying (Image Credit: Mark Thompson – Getty Images)
Q1

The Williams cars were the first on track in qualifying at the Miami International Autodrome. Racing for the first time in his home state, American Logan Sargeant went wide into Turn 1 on his first hot lap and had to abandon that attempt.

Max Verstappen, the main pacesetter for the weekend thus far, was one of the first to get to the top of the timing sheets with a 1:28.424. But not far behind him were the Haas cars of Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen, surprisingly on the pace yesterday and today.

The Mercedes drivers both struggled, with Lewis Hamilton bumping the wall early on in the session and the car lacking the pace we saw in Free Practice 1. With just five minutes left in Q1, Verstappen and Sergio Perez held a Red Bull 1-2, and Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz held a Ferrari 3-4. Alex Albon set an impressive lap to go P5 and split the Ferraris from the Aston Martin cars of Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll.

Hamilton and Russell were stuck in the bottom five for a good part of the session and went out for their final laps, hoping to squeeze through. They did, bumping out both McLaren cars, as well as Stroll and Yuki Tsunoda. For the first time in Formula 1 qualifying, Nyck de Vries outqualified his AlphaTauri teammate and squeezed into Q2.

Home hero Sargeant didn’t many any major improvements on his final lap, and will start the race tomorrow for 20th. Meanwhile out front, Verstappen and Sainz led the way in Q1, followed by Perez, Leclerc, and Magnussen.

Eliminated in Q1:

16. Lando Norris
17. Yuki Tsunoda
18. Lance Stroll
19. Oscar Piastri
20. Logan Sargeant

Q2

As usual, the Red Bulls quickly climbed to 1-2 on the timing sheets not long after the second part of qualifying began. The first driver to break that order up was Sainz, who managed a lap quick enough for P2 not quite halfway in.

With less drivers on the track, there was less excitement (and improvement). As the clock ticked down and drivers prepared for their final laps, the drivers in danger were both Mercedes, both Alfa Romeos, and de Vries.

Then, with less than two minutes to go, Leclerc went P1 with a 1:26.964. He was the first driver into the 1:26s range, but Verstappen beat his time once more this session. While Magnussen made it up to P7 on his final lap, his teammate Hulkenerg didn’t make it to the start/finish line before the time ran out and was unable to improve his time.

Russell improved to ninth but Hamilton, experiencing his worst-ever qualifying in a race based in the United States, only managed P13.

Alonso managed third behind Verstappen and Leclerc, solidifying his spot in the final session of qualifying in Miami.

Eliminated in Q2:

11. Alex Albon
12. Nico Hulkenberg
13. Lewis Hamilton
14. Zhou Guanyu
15. Nyck de Vries

Q3

The track was getting windy as the top ten drivers came onto the track for the final time before Sunday’s race. Red Bull, Ferrari, and Alpine were the only teams to have both drivers reach Q3 in Miami.

The wind influenced fast laps right away, with Verstappen experiencing a wiggle on his first lap and didn’t manage to recover enough to set a representative time.

Leclerc also messed up his first flying lap, touching the wall at Turn 16 and locking up into Turn 17. With five minutes to go, Perez and Alonso held the top spots, with Verstappen all the way down in ninth.

Everyone came out for their final laps with just two minutes to go, most drivers desperately hoping to improve. Leclerc, one of the first to set his final lap, but spun into the barriers and took himself out of contention for pole.

The session was red flagged with a minute and a half left, not enough time for anyone to have a warm-up lap in case of a restart. So Perez sat comfortably on pole with the session not resuming, ahead of Alonso and Sainz.

The convenient (for some) red flag puts Magnussen and his Haas in fourth place for the Grand Prix tomorrow, in what should be an exciting race in Miami.

Top ten starting:

1. Sergio Perez
2. Fernando Alonso
3. Carlos Sainz
4. Kevin Magnussen
5. Pierre Gasly
6. George Russell
7. Charles Leclerc
8. Esteban Ocon
9. Max Verstappen
10. Valterri Bottas

Feature Image Credit: CHANDAN KHANNA/POOL/AFP – Getty Images

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