Lights out at the Miami Grand Prix is just hours away as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc prepares to lead the pack off the line with his teammate Carlos Sainz by his side in P2.
In the shadows of the Prancing Horses will be Leclerc’s closest title rival, Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, who said he was “pretty pleased” to start Sunday’s Miami GP in third.
His upbeat comments come after a late mistake cost him a potential pole position – the error on the run into Turn 4 forced him to abandon his last flying lap of the session.
Despite this, the Dutchman was happy with P3 and noted the improvements seen since Friday’s hydraulic issues and a precautionary gearbox change meant he only had five full laps to get used to the new track ahead of Q1.
Speaking after Qualifying, Verstappen said: “Overall I am pretty pleased with qualifying. Literally, I did four or five laps yesterday so today I was still trying to learn the track and trying to find a decent balance in the car.
“To be that competitive in qualifying, I was a bit surprised.
“This is not an easy track to learn. Of course, you want to be on pole, but where we came from I think we did a really good job. We have to start making the weekends a little less difficult.
“We have a good chance tomorrow. We have a bit of speed. The car is handling quite well. I’m looking forward to that.”
Meanwhile, the Ferrari of Leclerc has performed incredibly well across the weekend so far, but the Monegasque driver has his eye on Verstappen heading into the Miami GP and says he believes they will be stronger on Sunday.
“I am very happy, I feel at ease with the car,” Leclerc said after landing pole position.
“It’s a car where you need to think a lot to go fast, but for now I feel at ease. It’s good to be starting on pole and we need to finish the job tomorrow.
“I always think there is more pace whenever I finish a quali. Maybe today a bit more than other qualifyings, but we are starting on pole anyway so I am very happy with this.
“We don’t know about race pace, especially with Max because he didn’t run in P2, but with more laps, I am sure he will only be more competitive.
“It is going to be tight tomorrow, but it is great to have Carlos by my side and hopefully we can keep those positions until the end of the race.”
This marks another weekend of technical errors for the Mercedes team, and Lewis Hamilton says he did a “damn good job” to secure P6 – while his teammate is back in 12th.
The Brackley team said they had pinpointed areas of major improvement in the two weeks time since the Emilia Romagna GP at Imola, but they’re once again fighting in the midfield this weekend.
“I am generally really happy with the job I did,” Hamilton told reporters on Saturday.
“I did the best I could with the car that I have. It’s a very hard car to drive. I did a damn good job today and I’m happy with it.”