Miami GP Qualifying Results: Why F1 Champ Max Verstappen Will Start 9th on Sunday

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f1 grand prix of miami qualifying
Why F1 Champ Verstappen is Starting 9th in MiamiDan Istitene - Formula 1 - Getty Images
  • Red Bull is on the pole for Sunday's F1 Miami Grand Prix, but it's Sergio Perez and not Max Verstappen who will lead the field.

  • Crash in qualifying by Charles Leclerc ended the third qualifying session early—before Verstappen's planned run for the pole.

  • The World Champion had made a mistake through Turn 8 on his first push lap, which he subsequently abandoned, leaving him with only his final effort to shoot for pole.

Sergio Perez scored pole position for Formula 1’s Miami Grand Prix, with World Champion teammate Max Verstappen left down in ninth on the grid.

It came following a truncated end to the Q3 shootout on Saturday after Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc crashed through the left-hander of Turn 8 at the Miami International Autodrome. Leclerc was unharmed in the crash but the location of the wreckage brought out the red flags and there was insufficient time to restart the session.

Perez, who set the fastest time in the early stages of Q3, was therefore assured of pole position while Verstappen was marooned in ninth. The World Champion had made a mistake through Turn 8 on his first push lap, which he subsequently abandoned, leaving him with only his final effort to shoot for pole.

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Sergio Perez races to the Miami GP pole on Saturday.Anadolu Agency - Getty Images

However that effort was skewered by Leclerc’s crash and Verstappen was subsequently unable to set a time.

“Of course that is unfortunate,” said Verstappen on the timing of the red flag. “But first of all, we didn’t do a lap and that was my fault. It was extremely tricky. I was a little bit off line out of six and into seven. I felt a bit of understeer and I just couldn’t get it back on the line. So I aborted my lap and then of course you need a bit of luck, of course hoping that there won’t be a red flag. Of course when you try to think like that, then it happens. It’s a bit upsetting. The whole weekend we have been pretty quick, my Q2 lap was fast enough for pole in Q3. I guess that says that we have a quick car but you need to put it together, and when it matters, we didn’t. That’s a bit frustrating from my part.”

Perez consequently has a golden opportunity to build on his victory last Sunday in Azerbaijan as he seeks to overturn Verstappen’s six-point lead in the championship.

It is only Perez’s third career pole and his first at a circuit other than Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah.

“I’m very pleased,” said Perez. “It’s been a very difficult weekend for me until qualifying. This tarmac is very different to anything and I was trying to figure out how to get the maximum out of the car, even in that lap I was still finding things out that were working better. I haven’t had a straightforward weekend so it tastes a lot better when you deliver on such a bad weekend.”

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Haas’ Kevin Magnussen scored a fourth-place finish in qualifying. It marks his best starting spot of the season.Icon Sportswire - Getty Images

While Perez is in prime spot Verstappen has a recent history of strong fightbacks.

In Jeddah he surged from 15th on the grid to second spot, while last season he won races from starting in seventh, 10th and 14th.

“Minimum is P2,” said Verstappen on his target for Sunday.

Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso will join Perez on the front row of the grid while Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was third.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen secured a standout fourth on the grid on the team’s home soil.

“Feels good,” said Magnussen. “It's an important race for us. Home race for the team, all our big sponsors are here this weekend. I think this weekend, we've just been strong consistently. And not only in terms of putting in lap times, and if you look at the results from each session it's good. But just the feeling was there from the very beginning. We put the car on track and it worked.”

It was a struggle for Mercedes, as George Russell was sixth, while Lewis Hamilton was mired down in 13th place.

“It was a difficult session,” said Hamilton. “We're not that quick so we really needed perfect laps. It was difficult to get into a rhythm for us.”

Home representative Logan Sargeant will bring up the rear of the 20-car grid.

Sunday’s Grand Prix will take place across 57 laps of the Miami International Autodrome, with forecasts indicating that showers are possible throughout the day.

Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix

Starting Grid

  1. Sergio Perez, Red Bull

  2. Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin

  3. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari

  4. Kevin Magnussen, Haas

  5. Pierre Gasly, Alpine

  6. George Russell, Mercedes

  7. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

  8. Esteban Ocon, Alpine

  9. Max Verstappen, Red Bull

  10. Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo

  11. Alexander Albon, Williams

  12. Nico Hulkenberg, Haas

  13. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

  14. Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo

  15. Nyck De Vries, AlphaTauri

  16. Lando Norris, McLaren

  17. Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri

  18. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin

  19. Oscar Piastri, McLaren

  20. Logan Sargeant, Williams