Leclerc heads brilliant Ferrari one-two in Miami qualifying thriller

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Championship leader Charles Leclerc delivered another magical lap to snatch pole position for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix, beating his team mate Carlos Sainz and reigning champion Max Verstappen. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó reports on the nail-biting qualifying session in Florida.

Following his shunt in the final practice session, Alpine racer Esteban Ocon was unable to take part in the qualifying session as his team detected a crack on the Frenchman’s car.

The first qualifying session saw Charles Leclerc set a brilliant lap of 1m29.474 which had been the fastest lap by that point of the weekend. Verstappen finished the session behind the Monegasque, showing that he could not be written off despite his reliability issues and lost time in FP2.

A huge battle established in the midfield with Lewis Hamilton also forced to use a second set of fresh soft tyres to get himself into the middle part of the session. His team mate George Russell took 9th in Q1 as he appeared to struggle with overheating tyres.

Kevin Magnussen looked quick all through the weekend, but he was unable to progress from Q1. Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu endured the same fortunes as he was also knocked out despite his promising speed in the early parts of the weekend.

Williams driver Alexander Albon ended up in P18 as he was unable to set a meaningful lap time on his last run due to insufficient tyre warm-up. His team mate Nicholas Latifi ended the session slowest.

Eliminated: Kevin Magnussen, Zhou Guanyu, Alexander Albon, Nicholas Latifi.

FP2 pace-setter Russell knocked out

Ferrari appeared to have an edge over Red Bull in Q1, but Verstapppen managed to shock his rivals with a time of 1m29.202s which had been the fastest time of the weekend by that point.

However, Scuderia’s drivers were on used sets of softs on their first run, so there was more to expect from the red cars. Leclerc did not disappoint as he took over the lead with a time of 1m29.130s when he mounted on a fresh set of C4 compound.

McLaren’s Lando Norris was the big surprise of the session as he jumped to P3 with a late flyer, dropping Perez to P4 and Sainz to P5.

Bottas demonstrated great speed with the sixth fastest time ahead of Hamilton, who finished Q2 in P7. Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and AlphaTauri’s pair of Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly rounded out the top ten.

The big shock was delivered by Mercedes driver George Russell, who made several mistakes during Q2 due to severe porpoising of his car. As a consequence, he was unable to go faster than P12. Interestingly, the King’s Lynn-born driver could not even replicate the lap time he set during the second free practice session.

Eliminated: Fernando Alonso, George Russell, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Mick Schumacher

Brilliant effort from the championship leader - Q3

The final part of qualifying saw Verstappen take provisional pole with Leclerc and Sainz lining up second and third. Hamilton was over a second off the Dutchman’s benchmark, but he set his first timed lap in Q3 on a used set of softs after he was forced to use more sets of C4 than planned in the earlier part of qualifying.

Ferrari sent their drivers for their last qualifying lap quite early on. The Scuderia wanted to make sure that a possible interruption does not hinder the efforts of their drivers even if the quick evolution of the Miami International Autodrome indicated that the last drivers to cross the finish line would enjoy the best track conditions.

Leclerc and Sainz started their last hot lap brilliantly with the Spaniard setting an eye-watering time in Sector 1 and the Monegasque recording the fastest middle sector. In the end, Leclerc eclipsed Verstappen with a brilliant pole time of 1m 28.796s with his team mate Sainz filing in second by 0.190s.

Verstappen made an error on his final lap which forced him to back out of his final effort, leaving him third fastest ahead of his team mate Perez.

Bottas delivered a masterful effort to beat his former team mate Lewis Hamilton with the pair set to line up fifth and sixth on the grid tomorrow.

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly took seventh while Norris settled for P8, beating Yuki Tsunoda and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll with the Japanese and Canadian driver set to start the inaugural Miami Grand Prix in P9 and P10 respectively.


116Charles LeclercFerrari1:29.4741:29.1301:28.79625
255Carlos SainzFerrari1:30.0791:29.7291:28.98626
31Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Rbpt1:29.8361:29.2021:28.99118
411Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Rbpt1:30.0551:29.6731:29.03621
577Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:30.8451:29.7511:29.47520
644Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:30.3881:29.7971:29.62521
710Pierre GaslyAlphatauri Rbpt1:30.7791:30.1281:29.69022
84Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:30.7611:29.6341:29.75022
922Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Rbpt1:30.4851:30.0311:29.93221
1018Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:30.4411:29.9961:30.67621
1114Fernando AlonsoAlpine Renault1:30.4071:30.16014
1263George RussellMercedes1:30.4901:30.17315
135Sebastian VettelAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:30.6771:30.21415
143Daniel RicciardoMclaren Mercedes1:30.5831:30.31015
1547Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari1:30.6451:30.42319
1620Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:30.97511
1724Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:31.0209
1823Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes1:31.26610
196Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes1:31.32510