Max Verstappen has conceded his Miami Grand Prix qualifying competitiveness was a "surprise" after a truncated practice schedule on Friday.
The reigning F1 champion glanced the exit wall at turn 16 early in FP1 which triggered a precautionary gearbox change by the Red Bull mechanics and in turn, the loss of half of FP2.
As soon as Verstappen then left the garage, he suffered a hydraulic issue and was able to complete only five representative laps.
Yet despite the troubles, the Dutchman looked as though he was on course for a stunning pole, only for an error on his final lap to leave the door wide open for Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz to lock out the front row of the grid.
Despite the mistake, Verstappen said: "Overall, I am, of course, pretty pleased with qualifying.
"I literally did four or five laps yesterday so today, the whole day was trying to learn the track, try to find a decent balance in the car and actually to be that competitive in qualifying, it was actually a surprise.
"It is not an easy track to learn. Of course, you want to be on pole but where we have come from, we have done a good job."
Red Bull must "start making weekends less difficult"
The mechanical issues on Friday followed a retirement in Australia for Verstappen and a double-DNF for the team at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
"We have got to start making the weekends less difficult," explained Verstappen.
"It is always going to be tricky. But we have a good chance for tomorrow. We have a good top speed, the car is handling quite well so I am looking forward to that."
The track surface has caused issues with a lack of grip off-line and on his overtaking chances in the race, Verstappen added: "It is quite slippery outside the normal racing line but we will see.
"A lot of things can happen tomorrow, I think it is going to be even warmer so it depends on how the tyres behave."