Bringing You the Daily Dispatch

Max Verstappen storms to Miami GP pole after earlier sprint success
F1 Sport

Max Verstappen storms to Miami GP pole after earlier sprint success

Max Verstappen remained determinedly very much on top of qualifying, continuing his unbeaten record for the season with another comfortable pole for the Miami Grand Prix. But in his wake Fernando Alonso is set to square up with Formula One’s governing body, the FIA. Alonso was angry and frustrated that they had failed to punish Lewis Hamilton after a controversial incident in Saturday morning’s sprint, claiming Hamilton had “ruined a lot of people’s races”.

For Sunday’s GP Verstappen once more holds all the cards with his sixth consecutive pole this season, beating the Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz into second and third by just over a tenth of a second, having already taken victory in the sprint race.

He won the 100km dash with relative ease from pole to flag in what was something of a procession enlivened by an incident at the opening corner. Hamilton made an opportunistic move up the inside at turn one from the start, a dive that caused Alonso to clatter into his teammate, Lance Stroll, who then collected Lando Norris’s McLaren and took him out of the race.

It was classed as a racing incident but illustrated that, with the Mercedes so off the pace in Miami, Hamilton feels he has little to lose. “There was a gap on the inside so I went for it,” he told his team.

Alonso was far less forgiving. “Lewis was on the inside, a little bit out of control but I guess they won’t decide anything, because he is not Spanish,” he said. “But he ruined the race for a few people, especially Norris, who had a very fast car and he was out in that incident.”

Stroll also had to retire while Alonso suffered a puncture. Alonso, who has long felt he has been singled out for punishments, was angry enough to declare he would take it up with the president of the FIA, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, because he believed the nationality of a driver was playing a part in steward’s decisions.

“I do feel that nationality matters, and I will speak with Mohammed, with the FIA, whatever,” he said. “I need to make sure there is not anything wrong with my nationality or anything that can influence any decision, not only for me, also for the future generation of Spanish drivers. They need to be protected.”

Hamilton, already enduring a difficult weekend, found himself dropped to 16th for speeding in the pit lane in the sprint and could manage only eighth in qualifying, still struggling for pace in a Mercedes that has not adapted to the heat at the Miami circuit.

Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes on the track during qualifying in Miami.View image in fullscreen

Verstappen had also not found the grip and balance he had been looking for early in the weekend but appeared to successfully adjusted the car’s set up after the sprint race. In qualifying he seemed comfortably in control once more, suggesting he will be in excellent shape for the race.

On the first hot laps in Q3 Verstappen laid down the gauntlet with 1min 27.241sec lap, more than a tenth up on Leclerc. The Monegasque driver was nonetheless close enough to make a fight of it for the final runs. Verstappen led the way, quickest in the first sector, with Leclerc almost matching him for time. the Dutchman could not then improve over the rest of the lap but neither could Leclerc, with tyre performance on the very hot track proving to be enormously hard to nail down.

The pole ensures Verstappen remains unbeaten in qualifying this season. It is the first time he has taken the top spot in Miami, a race he has won on both the previous occasions it has been held, including coming back from ninth on the grid to take victory last year. He leads the drivers’ championship by 27 points from Pérez.

skip past newsletter promotion

He won the sprint in which the order of top six remained as they had been on the grid, doing enough to hold Leclerc off in second, with Pérez in third.

Behind them however it was Daniel Ricciardo who returned perhaps the most impressive drive. Having qualified fourth he held his place in the RB, punching well above its weight and delivering a timely reminder of the Australian’s talent. He was feisty in fighting off Sainz and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, but in so doing also demonstrated that a circuit where overtaking is tricky at best is not well-suited to hosting the 100km dash format.

In qualifying Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez was fourth and McLaren’s Lando Norris was fifth. Oscar Piastri was sixth for McLaren, George Russell was seventh for Mercedes, Nico Hülkenberg ninth for Haas and Yuki Tsunoda in 10th for RB.

Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso were in 11th and 15th for Aston Martin, Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon in 12th and 13th for Alpine and Alex Albon in 14th for Williams.

Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou were 16th and 20th for Sauber, Logan Sargeant in 17th for Williams, Daniel Ricciardo 18th for RB and Kevin Magnussen in 19th for Haas.

Source: theguardian.com