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Leclerc marvels in Miami as Verstappen faces Ferrari front-row wall

Leclerc marvels in Miami as Verstappen faces Ferrari front-row wall

F1 News

Leclerc marvels in Miami as Verstappen faces Ferrari front-row wall

Leclerc marvels in Miami as Verstappen faces Ferrari front-row wall

Charles Leclerc spearheaded a Ferrari one-two in qualifying for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix as a late mistake from Max Verstappen wrecked his chance of pole.

It was always going to be a shoot-out again between Verstappen and Leclerc, and the Monégasque seemingly had the edge over his title rival after finishing quickest in Q1 and Q2.

In scorching temperatures of 33 degrees Celsius, leading to a track temperature at the Miami International Autodrome of 50, the action on the track was equally as heated as Verstappen took the honours in the first run in Q3 by 0.064s to Leclerc.

At that stage, Carlos Sainz was also in the mix as he was only a further 0.016s off the pace, with the remainder squabbling over the minor places.

Come the second run, Leclerc managed to go quicker again with a lap of one minute 28.796s, finishing almost two-tenths of a second clear of team-mate Carlos Sainz.

As for Verstappen, the reigning F1 champion complained of oversteer in his RB18 that led to an error in the first sector, leaving him third on the grid and allowing Leclerc to claim the 12th pole of his career.

For Ferrari, it is their first front-row lockout since the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix, with Sainz making only his second front-row start.

Red Bull's Sergio Perez will join his team-mate on the second row, with the Mexican ahead of Valtteri Bottas following another superb qualifying performance from the Alfa Romeo driver.

Despite early practice promise from Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton could only manage sixth, joining his former team-mate Bottas on the third row.

AlphaTauri duo Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda then sandwich McLaren's Lando Norris, with Lance Stroll lining up 10th for Aston Martin.

Fernando Alonso lines up 11th in his Alpine after being nudged out of the top 10 by 0.032s to Gasly, with the Spanish driver ahead of Mercedes' George Russell as the Briton endured a problematic session.

Late on track initially, Russell's first attempt resulted in him backing out as twice he had to save the car as it squirmed underneath him as it hit bumps.

The second time around, although Russell set a time, it was 0.045s behind Gasly, leaving him with a fight on his hands to preserve his record of being the only driver to finish in the top five in all four races this year.

Over the radio, Russell said: "Sorry about that. It wasn't good enough. I just didn't have confidence in the car today."

An error through the chicane from Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel means he will line up 13th, with Haas' Mick Schumacher 14th and McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo 15th.

Ricciardo has now been out-qualified in all five sessions by team-mate Norris who ended Q2 third fastest and almost seven-tenths of a second quicker than the Australian.

The opening session saw Hamilton use three sets of soft tyres to get through due to small compromising errors on his first two runs before navigating traffic on his final attempt to set what proved to be the fifth quickest time behind Leclerc.

Surprisingly, given his form this season, Kevin Magnussen failed to make it into Q2, out-qualified by team-mate Schumacher for the second time, with a third of a second between the pair.

The Dane will line up 16th ahead of Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu and Williams duo Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi, with the former not helped by a failure to get enough heat into his tyres on his final outlap.

At the back of the pack will be Alpine's Esteban Ocon who suffered a heavy crash in the final practice session that cracked the chassis of the A522 upon impact, with the team confirming it was irreparable in the time before qualifying.

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