The Saturday in F1 Miami GP played out differently even though Charles Leclerc’ mishap rang similar bells but it puts up for a good Sunday.

While it did not rain all day on Saturday of F1 Miami GP to cause any troubles, it rained post qualifying late in the night which will remove the tyre rubber put in, adding more to the off-line grip troubles that the drivers have faced so far.

While the Sunday show remains to be seen, the Saturday was dramatic to say the least after a late incident for Ferrari’s Leclerc. His second and final lap started off well but he lost at Turn 7 to crash out and end the session under red flag.

It disrupted everyone’s run including Red Bull’s Max Verstappen whose first lap was ruined by his own moment and he eventually couldn’t get a lap in to be only ninth when his teammate Sergio Perez took a crucial F1 pole for Miami GP.

The Mexican hasn’t looked well all-weekend long but made the most of the opportunity presented to put in a lap which was good enough for pole. Verstappen will have to claw his way back up to challenge him and also to retain his F1 points lead.

Leclerc ended up seventh still when his teammate Carlos Sainz was third in a better run than Australia. Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso got another front-row start after Jeddah after a good lap from him when teammate Lance Stroll was knocked out in Q1.

The team tried to sneak through Q2 using one set of tyres but the gamble didn’t work due to high track evolution. There was also a knockout for Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton only 13th and not progressing to Q2, while George Russell salvaged sixth.

Perez: “It wasn’t as bad. I think if things turned to bad, probably I will be P4 or P3. But no, Melbourne, hopefully never again. But I was just far and literally far with balance with confidence. And I think it’s one of those weekends where if things don’t go in your favour, then you just start to lose confidence and you start to overthink things. And yeah, I’m just so pleased that I delivered when it mattered, because I had a pretty good idea through Qualifying. I think I managed to learn a lot. And yeah, just put the lap when it really mattered. For the race, at the moment these two guys obviously. I’m mainly focusing now on getting a good start and being able to manage our first stint.

“I think it will be really helpful for all of us to be able to do that. You know, it’s a very long race and still a lot can happen tomorrow. All weekend, I was mainly missing confidence. When I was looking at the data and seeing what Max was able to do, I could not see… I could simply not do that and I was struggling a lot. It was not small differences, it was quite big. And yeah, we did a good one good change, which I won’t go into too much in detail obviously but also just learning about the asphalt, I think, through qualifying and playing with a balance and finding that rhythm was much more important than I really thought so I really got a good understanding in qualifying finally. So yeah, now looking forward myself for tomorrow. I’m sure that will be able to translate that into a race pace.”

Alonso: “It was a good qualifying. I think we’ve been up and down in the last two events. I think Baku was very difficult with only one free practice. Here, with a more normal weekend, we’ve been experimenting a little bit with set-up and different options on the car. And yeah, I think we put it all together for Qualifying, the car felt good. And yeah, obviously the Q3 was stopped with a red flag at the end, so we don’t know what lap time, at the end, everyone could achieve. I think there was a lot of pace in the car still because the Q3 lap was made on a used tyre on the first attempt. So up to the yellow flag I was a few tenths already better than the lap before.

“So yeah, I think that it was something more than the car, but obviously we take the first row of the grid and let’s see what we can do. I think Sunday is our day, normally. I think the car take care of the tyre normally very good, and we have a very good race pace and we struggle a little bit on Saturday. So, when we start higher up normally things are a little bit easier. But yeah, we have a strong opposition behind. Ferrari has been very strong this weekend and in Baku, some upgrades also on their car. Max obviously will come, eventually in the race, quite fast. So yeah, a lot of things to take care of in the mirrors. But we will do our race, we will score as many points as possible and our main competitors, Mercedes, they had a difficult weekend so far, so we need to keep outscoring them.”

Sainz: “It’s been back to the feeling I had in Australia. So yeah, it kind of confirms that Baku was an outlier and a very strange weekend for me. The strangest probably in my F1 career – I’m not going to lie – and the toughest. But now, back in Miami, the feeling straight away from FP1 was back to normal. I was on the pace, I’ve been in the pace from FP2 to FP3, building it up through Qualifying. Bit of a pity that we couldn’t extract the performance of the car today because there was definitely a lot more in it. But yeah, with the red flags and things, and with the new tyre being so peaky around here, it’s always difficult to put it together.

“I think it will be an interesting start. I think it always is around here. I think last year there was also a decent difference between inside and outside into Turn 1, and we will see how it pans out, no? But I think we’re fighting the Astons… who is behind me, P4? Magnussen? Interesting! Kevin, strange one, but he sometimes can pull it off, like we’ve seen many times. I think with Fernando and for sure Max will come from behind and will pass us both, it’s normally what should happen because in race pace we saw like, we’ve seen this year six, eight-tenths of difference, which is around a 50-something lap race is a big, big gap.”

Verstappen: “Well, yeah, clearly… I mean that was definitely a mistake of mine, trying to put it on the limit, and then I made a mistake and had to abort the lap. Then you rely on a bit of luck as well, that there is not going to be a red flag at the end, and that can happen on a street circuit – so I’m just a bit upset with myself. A podium, for sure, but I want to win, so this is not great. Winning is not impossible, but it’s not going to be easy.”

Leclerc: “This is not an excuse. It’s difficult for everybody. So two days, two mistakes, same corner. So yeah, this is not acceptable and, yeah, I’m always very harsh with myself and today was just not good. I know I’m really good in qualifying, most of the time I manage to extract the absolute maximum out of the car, but again, it’s the same mistake as yesterday. The lap before was really good until the lock-up in Q3 but again, doing good laps is good but you need to finish them and today I didn’t finish them in Q3, so there’s no point saying it was a good lap until then.”

Hamilton: “It was one of those days. You know, not the best, I was hoping there was a couple of moments where the car was feeling half-decent and I thought that maybe I would be able to get into Q3. But at the end there I went out, they put me out behind seven cars – or something like that – so when I got to the last corner I was like the last of the group. [I] had to back up and lost all my temperature in the tyres, so when I started the lap I just had no grip. Well there’s nothing I can do about what’s just happened. All I can do is try to prepare myself the best and forget what happened today. It happens, and just really try and turn the negative into a positive tomorrow, keep my head down and see if I can fight somehow through the field.”

The red flag end threw more F1 drivers in the mix as Haas’ Kevin Magnussen found himself to be fourth in a bright result for the home team. His teammate Nico Hulkenberg did well to be in Q2 and couldn’t progress due to traffic on his fast lap.

Another bright result was for Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas who finally found some pace to be in the Top 10 for the first time in 2023 in F1 qualifying. The Finn was happy with the overnight job the team did, as Zhou Guanyu was pleased with his Q2 run.

The pleasing list saw both the Alpine cars inside the Top 10 after a disaster in Baku. Pierre Gasly did well in fifth while Esteban Ocon missed out due to red flag in eighth, but they now have a good platform to score good points over their immediate rivals.

Williams’ Alexander Albon was satisfied to be 11th after missing out on Q3 by just. Teammate Logan Sargeant reckoned he did well but was surprised to find himself in 20th, as AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda struggled too along with the McLaren pair, but amid this Nyck de Vries found his first Q2 chance.

Magnussen: “I’m well chuffed with that! In the US, at the Miami Grand Prix, in front of our home crowd and title sponsor and other partners – it’s great to be able to get a result like that. Of course, there’s no points for qualifying – we know that – but we also know what it feels like to have a good qualifying. That was a lot of fun and hopefully that gets everyone a bit pumped up for tomorrow. I’m very happy to be starting P4 tomorrow and I’m really pumped.”

Gasly: “I’m very pleased with today’s Qualifying and starting in fifth puts us in a good position for the race. It’s great that both Esteban and I are in the top ten to secure an important team result, especially after last weekend. It’s important for us to come back strong. The red flag was unfortunate just as we were about to begin our final lap on new Soft tyres as I was feeling pretty good and it would have been interesting to see where we would have finished. That said, my lap on used tyres was decent, enough to be fifth on the grid and we’re all looking ahead to tomorrow’s race where we must aim to convert this performance into points.”

Bottas: “It’s great to be back in Q3 and I’m very pleased to be in the top ten ahead of the race. We made a big step forward overnight and managed to get the most out of the setup, which shows the team is doing a good job at bouncing back from the last few races. The red flag in Q3 obviously penalised us: I only had one set of tyres left and couldn’t set a time when the session was interrupted, but I think we could have been even higher up in the standings. There’s no point focusing on that, however: the potential for a good result is there and we must prepare well to fight for points tomorrow. It’s going to be a long race and, as we have seen, it is very easy to make a mistake here; but we are confident and motivated, and if we do our jobs well, we have a solid chance to bring home a good result.”

Albon: “I think we maximised everything in Qualifying and we’re in a good position for tomorrow. Sometimes you get upset because you’re so close to Q3 but then you have to remember, it’s still a good job. I’m happy with the lap that I did and we did what was right for our car. We really need a clean out lap to get the tyres in a good place and that’s why we tend to do a bit better on a Saturday than other teams. With the track evolution the way it is, it’s so aggressive, much more than most tracks we go to because the grips so low, so that five minutes is enough for the track to be another tenth, and that means Q3. It’s a big unknown what the tyres are going to do in the race but starting P11, hopefully we can turn it into something tomorrow.”

De Vries: “Of course, we always want more but looking at FP1 and FP2, we as a team are satisfied and happy with the performance gains we made. We found ourselves on the backfoot, but the progress we made overnight helped us reach Q2 for the first time, which is a great accomplishment for us. We are lacking long run experience here and overtaking is difficult, but it will be a long race and maybe there will be opportunities, which we can capitalise on. Grip levels are low, especially if you are off-line it can become very slippery, but it’s a new day tomorrow and the race is on!”

Norris: “Tough day for us. Not the result we wanted but almost the best we could have done. I made a small mistake which might have cost me one position, but the fact is we just didn’t have the pace to be competitive today. It’s a shame but we’ll have to try to do what we can to go forwards tomorrow.”

Here’s how F1 Miami GP qualifying panned out