Formula 1

Perez takes Miami GP pole as Leclerc crash red flags qualifying

by Matt Beer
3 min read

Sergio Perez ended up on a surprise Miami Grand Prix pole after Max Verstappen – who had dominated until Q3 – made an error on his first pole shot and then was denied a second run by a red flag for Charles Leclerc crashing.

Verstappen had been fastest in second and third practice, Q1 and Q2 and looked peerless in all those sessions.

But he then ran wide into the Turn 6 left-hander on his first Q3 lap and aborted it.

Leclerc had also erred on his first Q3 run, brushing the wall at the right-hander onto the long back straight and then locking up at the end of it.

He completed that lap as a banker – which put him seventh – but then spun into the barriers at Turn 6 when he came out for his second attempt.

With only 1m36s left on the clock, the session was not resumed and Verstappen was left stranded in ninth with no time to his name, ahead of only Valtteri Bottas, who was only doing one Q3 run in his Alfa Romeo.

That means Perez follows up his Baku win double with a Miami pole. A win on Sunday would give him the championship lead.

Fernando Alonso joins him on the front row, in a session of dramatically mixed fortunes for Aston Martin given Lance Stroll couldn’t get out of Q1 as the team tried to do so on just one set of tyres. Alonso did, Stroll didn’t and starts way down in 18th.

Carlos Sainz starts third for Ferrari, with a shock row-two partner in the shape of Kevin Magnussen. The Haas driver has struggled in qualifying all year so far but made Q3 this time – while team-mate Nico Hulkenberg exited in Q2 and starts 12th – and was fourth thanks to a decent first run while others messed up. That was where he stayed thanks to the Leclerc crash.

Alpine followed up its decent practice pace with fifth and eighth on the grid for Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon.

Sixth on the grid for George Russell is far better than Mercedes looked like it was heading for as its cars sat 19th and 20th going into the final moments of Q1. Russell at least made it to Q3, but Lewis Hamilton couldn’t get past Q2 and starts 13th. His qualifying session also included a brush of the wall in Q1 after he took avoiding action to miss Magnussen.

Zhou Guanyu will share the seventh row with Hamilton after he narrowly avoided his own close call on track as he was frustrated by a slow-moving Sainz. Further action wasn’t taken on either incident.

Alex Albon came within 0.052s of getting Williams in the top 10 again. He starts 11th, but his American rookie team-mate Logan Sargeant starts his first home grand prix from last.

McLaren had looked to be in trouble in final practice, and it was no mirage. Lando Norris was pushed down to 16th as the Mercedes rescued themselves and team-mate Oscar Piastri was back in 19th.

Yuki Tsunoda suffered his first qualifying defeat to new team-mate Nyck de Vries. The AlphaTauris line up 15th and 17th.

Qualifying Results

Pos Name Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1m27.713s 1m27.328s 1m26.841s
2 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m28.179s 1m27.097s 1m27.202s
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1m27.686s 1m27.148s 1m27.349s
4 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m27.809s 1m27.673s 1m27.767s
5 Pierre Gasly Alpine-Renault 1m28.061s 1m27.612s 1m27.786s
6 George Russell Mercedes 1m28.086s 1m27.743s 1m27.804s
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m27.713s 1m26.964s 1m27.861s
8 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1m27.872s 1m27.444s 1m27.935s
9 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1m27.363s 1m26.814s
10 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m27.864s 1m27.564s
11 Alex Albon Williams-Mercedes 1m28.234s 1m27.795s
12 Nico Hülkenberg Haas-Ferrari 1m27.945s 1m27.903s
13 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m27.846s 1m27.975s
14 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m28.18s 1m28.091s
15 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 1m28.325s 1m28.395s
16 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1m28.394s
17 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 1m28.429s
18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m28.476s
19 Oscar Piastri McLaren-Mercedes 1m28.484s
20 Logan Sargeant Williams-Mercedes 1m28.577s
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