F1 – Miami GP – Qualifying

Hello, MiniFans! We’re finally in Miami, ready for the drivers to decide who will get the first pole in this track, as long as accidents and red flags allow a bit of rest to them. However, the circuit had already taken its first victim, as Ocon couldn’t take part in the qualifying session due to his car not being easily repaired after a crash in FP3.

The first on track, to keep up with tradition, were the Haas, but half the grid joined them within the first minute of Q1. The first good time to take into account was set on the timing tower by Sainz, but Verstappen soon got a lap over six tenths faster, and he was soon joined in second by his teammate Pérez. The Mercedes drivers got a big split between them, as Russell managed to slot himself right behind the Red Bulls, but Hamilton was almost a second away from his brand-new teammate.

Bottas took his time to go out, but once he did, he managed a comfortable time on his first try. The improvement of the track and the fact that tyres seem to need a bit of time to get up to their peak performance in some cars, meant that lap times got faster in many cases, resulting in drivers jumping up and down the order, including one of the big surprises of the day, with Magnussen not making it through to Q2. The drivers who got eliminated in Q1 were Magnussen (P16), Zhou (P17), Albon (P18); Latifi (P19) and Ocon (P20, no time set).

Ferrari started off Q2 with used soft tyres, as did everyone except for Red Bull, trying to save some fresh sets for tomorrow’s race. Red Bull went straight into the first two slots, with Leclerc eventually managing to edge them out of it by barely squeezing into first, and Russell wasn’t in great shape at the beginning, not setting a good lap until there were less than four minutes on the clock and around four tenths slower than Hamilton.

Bottas, who had barely made it through into Q2, managed to get into Q3 in sixth place, but the weirdness didn’t end there. Russell, faster than his teammate during the weekend, couldn’t stick a great lap and wasn’t allowed into Q3, while Norris once again defeated Ricciardo in qualifying, managing a time around seven tenths faster than the Australian. The eliminated drivers in Q2 were Alonso (P11), Russell (P12), Vettel (P13), Ricciardo (P14) and Schumacher (P15).

Copying their Q2 strategy, Ferrari were the first on the track, almost in formation. The first run left Verstappen in pole position and the Italian cars split the Red Bulls, but the top three was cramped in less than a tenth of a second. The last stint gave the Red Bull problems, with Verstappen aborting his lap and Pérez only managing a fourth place, while the Ferraris fought until the last possible second in a battle that crowned Leclerc as the fastest in qualifying.

The free practices predicted an interrupted qualifying session, adding four red flags among the three, but it couldn’t be further from reality. Apart from a few small incidents, such a blocked front tyre, gentle kisses left on the wall or going wide on a corner, the outings that award grid positions were clean and easy going. The fight for pole went down to the wire, mere hundredths of a second determining the first poleman of the Miami GP and the return of the Ferrari 1-2.