Formula 1 held the first qualifying practice in the history of the Miami GP. In the late afternoon of this Saturday (7), the cars took to the track in the heat and with the cloudy sky on the track located next to the Hard Rock stadium, in the Miami Gardens region, for someone to be the pioneer: pole-position #1 of the event. The title ended up in the hands of Charles Leclerc, the fastest on the track.
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From the first moves, it was clear that it would really be a duel – one more – between Red Bull and Ferrari. Or, as Carlos Sainz didn’t seem to approach, between Red Bull and Charles Leclerc. Mercedes’ brilliance on Friday, as it was the fastest of the day, was left behind. The stamp on Mercedes was Russell’s elimination in Q2, in 12th place.
In Q3, however, Sainz woke up. He showed that he managed to fully recover from the accident on Friday and, in this way, put both red cars in a position to take pole. On the first fast lap, Max Verstappen did an impressive lap down to 1min29s, something that no one else could. There was one more chance, though. In it, Ferrari was made. Leclerc did a great first sector and an even better second to secure 1min28s796. Sainz followed and, despite the best first sector, he was worse in the other two and was 0s195 behind – but 0s005 better than Verstappen. The Dutchman missed in the final attempt and took third.
Sergio Pérez completed the top four as expected, while Valtteri Bottas consolidated himself as the best of the rest. Lewis Hamilton was sixth, while Pierre Gasly, Lando Norris, Yuki Tsunoda and Lance Stroll finished, in that order, the top ten.
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Check out how the ranking went:
Q1 – Leclerc leads and Hamilton saves himself amid on-track traffic
Even before the cars were allowed to take the track in the Miami qualifying, the first important news appeared: Esteban Ocon, who crashed hard at turn 14 in the earlier practice, would not be able to enter the track and, therefore, would start at the last place in the race. For the 19 other cars, time to rank.
Nobody wanted to waste time: in 30 seconds, 13 cars were already on the track. The first of them had been Kevin Magnussen, but that was just a detail. Traffic was evident at first. Unlike the morning, when the times were relatively high, they already dropped a lot in the opening minutes. Max Verstappen left 1min30s235 to be the first representative pointer in the table.
In the area of canceled laps, the first to have it was Pierre Gasly, for disrespecting the limits of the track at turn 15. Mercedes were the ones who started to cheer up: after the desperate FP3, George Russell started well and walked in the range of 1min30s7.
Despite Russell doing well, Lewis Hamilton was still struggling and was close to the elimination zone, but still had plenty of time to go. Lance Stroll was in the top six, but ten minutes into Q1, the laps were falling into a dizzying pace.
Charles Leclerc gave the business card a twist. The championship leader clocked 1min29s474 and jumped forward. Verstappen also dropped from 1min30s, but still 0s3 slower than his rival.
Further back, Alonso warned Alpine that he missed the wall at turn 16 – Hamilton also escaped the track. The seven-time champion was only 16th when he returned to the pits to change tires and try to find a necessary lap to advance.
Before Lewis had a new chance, Mick Schumacher was doing well and getting out of trouble by breaking into the top 10. But Hamilton stuck right in the sequence, set the time and took fifth place.
The next one to try to save himself was Alonso. And, for Alpine’s sake, he did it at the last moment. Vettel did the same after being pushed. The end of Q1 had traffic from a series of slow cars wanting to open a fast lap and white flag from the race direction. All to make way for those who would actually walk.
In the end, Kevin Magnussen, Guanyu Zhou, Alexander Albon and Nicholas Latifi were eliminated and joined, in the last places, by Ocon.
Q2 – No more optimism: Russell is eliminated with 12th place
The middle part of the classification started with no time for the drivers to negotiate with reality. It was necessary to get out of the way to turn around quickly. Schumacher was the first to turn around, but Leclerc and Sainz came in after 1min29s.
Red Bull was even better. Verstappen clocked 1min29s202, while Pérez was 0s4 behind and in second. If there was a rush to do fast laps as soon as possible, there were people who preferred to wait much longer. With only eight minutes to go, the two Aston Martins, Alonso and Russell, came. The four proposed themselves, thus, to be left with one less chance.
Hamilton appeared in fifth and followed by Pierre Gasly and Valtteri Bottas. Russell finally came, but he had to take his foot off after swamping the track with the car. Since FP3, George has been reporting certain issues with the soft tyre. On the radio, he even questioned Mercedes for bouncing too much. THE porpoising came back.
The second series of fast turns appeared. Leclerc then went ahead to record the best time: 1min29s130. Yuki Tsunoda appeared in ninth and it was another warning on the radio that they had touched the wall, but nothing serious. Street lanes…
It was only with four minutes to go that Russell managed to launch himself into the top-10, in seventh, still behind Hamilton. At that moment, the two McLaren, the two Aston Martins and Schumacher appeared in the elimination zone.
Only two minutes to go and 13 of the 15 cars were on the track: only Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo appeared in the pit lane. The Australian soon left to try to save himself, but Max stayed. He wasn’t too keen on vying for the top of Q2.
As in Q1, the laps dropped wildly from there. Norris flew and entered the third place, while Stroll and Vettel reached the top-10, but the four-time champion fell again. Russell was also there, but he couldn’t resist. The Englishman’s terrible Q2 ended with elimination. From 11th to 1st to 15th, Alonso, Russell, Vettel, Ricciardo and Schumacher. Seb regretted it with the team: he made a mistake in the final chicane.
Q3 – All red: Leclerc pole, Sainz second
Ferrari versus Red Bull. All four possibilities were open at the start of Q3 and the pole battle in Miami. Nobody waited too long to go out on the dance floor: the ten who were still alive left practically together.
Right off the bat, Leclerc clocked 1min29s055 and started at the end. But it didn’t last very long, because Verstappen dropped below the 1min29s mark. In an impressive spin, he clocked 1min28s991. Leclerc and Sainz were respectively 0s064 and 0s080 behind. Pérez came in fourth.
After the first round of fast laps was over and everyone was back in the pits to change tires, Bottas was the best of the rest, ahead of Hamilton. Norris, Tsunoda, Stroll and Gasly rounded out the top-10.
The first pole contender to open the final lap was Leclerc, followed by Sainz, Verstappen and Pérez. And the Monegasque flew. With 1min28s796, he took the lead – Sainz made the second half. Verstappen had a bad first sector and gave up. Pérez was even in fourth. Pole of Leclerc, front row of Ferrari. Verstappen had to embitter third place.
F1 2022, Miami GP, Starting Grid:
|3||M VERSTAPPEN||Red Bull Honda||1:28,991||+0.195|
|4||S PEREZ||Red Bull Honda||1:29,036||+0.240|
|5||V BOOTS||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:29,475||+0.679|
|7||P GASLY||AlphaTauri Honda||1:29,690||+0.894|
|8||L NORRIS||McLaren Mercedes||1:29,750||+0.954|
|9||Y TSUNODA||AlphaTauri Honda||1:29,932||+1,136|
|10||L STROL||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:30,676||+1,880|
|13||S VETTEL||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:30,214||+1,418|
|15||M SCHUMACHER||Haas Ferrari||1:30,423||+1,627|
|16||K MAGNUSEN||Haas Ferrari||1:30,975||+2,179|
|17||G ZHOU||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:31,020||+2,224|
|19||N LATIFI||Williams Mercedes||1:31,325||+2,529|
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