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Max on pole for Miami sprint: 'Somehow, we're first'

Published on 03 May 2024 by Stefan Meens

Max Verstappen took pole position for the Miami Grand Prix sprint. Charles Leclerc will line up alongside the reigning champion on Saturday’s sprint grid. Max’ Oracle Red Bull Racing team mate Sergio Perez completed the top three. Daniel Ricciardo surprised with fourth place in the RB.

“To be honest, it felt terrible”, Max smiled in the post session interview. “I don’t know, maybe it was just difficult to switch on the tyres in that last session. SQ2 didn’t feel great and SQ3 felt more or less the same for me. I wasn’t able to really improve on the soft tyre. But somehow, we’re first. I felt good confident and comfortable in practice but not in the sprint quali.”

The Dutchman added: "When they told me we were P1, I thought it was a joke. It just didn't feel good. We'll have to look into that. It should stabalise with the race pace. It should get better."

Although Max can add another sprint pole to his impressive career stats, the time margins were small; a potential side-effect of having only one practice session. “I’m not sure, maybe it’s the layout of the circuit. I was confident after practice we could fight for pole, but that changed during qualifying. In the end, we were first, but I don’t know what happened to the other cars.”

Charles Leclerc is the first driver out on track in SQ1 after the Monegasque endured a frustrating free practice, having only completed one lap after a spin brought his session to a premature end. Despite the lack of track time, the Ferrari comfortably progresses to the next part of qualifying, where he joins the usual suspects, including the two Red Bulls and his teammate Carlos Sainz. Particularly impressive are the McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri with the team in predominantly papaya colours setting the pace. Local hero Logan Sargeant, Alex Albon (both Williams), Valtteri Bottas, Guanyu Zhou (both Sauber) and Pierre Gasly (Alpine) do not make the cut and do not progress to the next part of qualifying.

In SQ2, the two Mercedes are the standout names failing to make it in to the top ten shoot out with Hamilton complaining he hit the wall on his final timed lap. Daniel Ricciardo also ‘kissed’ the wall but impresses by progressing to SQ3. His RB teammate Yuki Tsunoda joins Hamilton, Russell, Magnussen and Ocon in the group of drivers who strand in SQ2. At the very front, the McLarens continue to set the pace with Lando Norris. Max only sets one timed lap, which is good enough for fourth place.

During the third and final part of the session, all drivers bolt on the soft Pirelli tyres with the expectation that the lap times will drop even further. Remarkably, most drivers appear to struggle to get the red side walled tyres to work in SQ3. In particular, the two McLarens are unable to maintain their strong form, resulting in Piastri and Norris having to settle for sixth and seventh. At the front, despite a messy lap, Max claims pole telling the team: “Lol, what happened to the others”. Nevertheless, the Dutchman will start Saturday’s sprint from pole.

Contest GP Miami: win a by Max Verstappen signed Racing cap!

Results sprint qualifying Miami:

1Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:28.1941:28.0011:27.641
2Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:28.5371:27.9771:27.749
3Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:28.6811:27.8651:27.876
4Daniel RicciardoRICRB Honda RBPT1:28.7001:28.1221:28.044
5Carlos SainzSAIFerrari1:28.4351:28.2621:28.103
6Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes1:28.0561:28.1631:28.161
7Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:28.8071:28.3231:28.375
8Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes1:28.1921:28.1891:28.419
9Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:27.9391:27.5971:28.472
10Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari1:29.0401:28.3301:28.476
11George RussellRUSMercedes1:28.3871:28.343
12Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:28.7361:28.371
13Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:28.8731:28.379
14Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:28.3771:28.614
15Yuki TsunodaTSURB Honda RBPT1:28.687DNF
16Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault1:29.185
17Zhou GuanyuZHOKick Sauber Ferrari1:29.267
18Valtteri BottasBOTKick Sauber Ferrari1:29.360
19Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes1:29.551
20Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes1:29.858