MIAMI GARDENS, FL. – Qualifying for the FORMULA 1 CRYPTO.COM MIAMI GRAND PRIX 2023 came to a dramatic conclusion at the Miami International Autodrome on Saturday afternoon when Charles Leclerc spun off the track in the dying seconds to trigger a red flag stoppage. With just over a minute left on the clock, the session was not restarted and to the delight of the Red Bull fans and Mexican contingent in the crowd, Sergio Perez claimed his third pole position in Formula 1. Leclerc’s second off-track excursion of the weekend meant no driver could improve their lap times resulting in an exciting grid for Sunday’s race.
World Champion Max Verstappen will start tomorrow’s 57-lap event in ninth after he aborted his first lap in the final Q3 qualifying period after pushing too hard in his Red Bull heading towards Turn 7. Leclerc’s spin in the same section of the racetrack was the Ferrari man’s second error this weekend — following contact with the wall yesterday — and he’ll start in seventh tomorrow.
The biggest beneficiary of the red flag was Kevin Magnussen who recorded the fourth quickest time of the session to give the American-owned Haas team a day to remember in Miami. Three native Spanish-speaking drivers on the grid took the top three positions with Fernando Alonso second in his Aston Martin ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz. With ‘Checo’ Perez only six points behind his team-mate in the title race and starting eight places higher up the grid, it will make tomorrow’s race an unmissable spectacle.
WORLD CHAMPION MAX VERSTAPPEN SETS THE FASTEST-EVER LAP AROUND THE MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AUTODROME and NFL speedster Tyreek Hill gets in the pit
Verstappen had been favorite to take top spot after finishing the morning’s third free practice session fastest and was again quickest in the first two sessions of qualifying. But on his first run in the top ten shootout, he made a mistake around the high-speed sequence of corners before the picturesque MIA Marina and aborted his lap. It was then unfortunate the red flag prevented him from having another shot at pole.
Perez set a lap two seconds quicker than last year’s P1 time, and said: “It has been one of those weekends where I was struggling for balance and confidence. I just couldn’t figure out how to put those tenths [of a second] that I was missing all the time to Max and the Ferraris. With a small change in qualifying everything came alive and we put the lap together when it mattered.”
The two Alpines made the final Q3 shootout, along with Mercedes’ George Russell, but in contrast his team-mate Lewis Hamilton struggled and could only manage an unlucky 13th on the grid. Meanwhile local hero Logan Sargeant will start his first-ever home race in 20th place in his Williams.
Saturday’s Formula 1 action at the Miami International Autodrome took place in glorious sunshine and the crowds who visited Miami Gardens were entertained both on and off the track. Looking on from the garages were world famous guests including the tech entrepreneur Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. Meanwhile the party was in full swing at Hard Rock Beach Club on the outside of Turn 12 with global pop icons Jonas Brothers performing on stage and their headlining act broadcast around the whole of the Miami Campus.
More entertainment is planned on and off the track tomorrow at the FORMULA 1 CRYPTO.COM MIAMI GRAND PRIX 2023 as the action gets underway with lights out in Miami Gardens at 3.30pm local time.
Paola Argueta – Miami Dolphins communications contributed to this column