(L to R): Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin; Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, Miami International Autodrome, 2023

Perez on pole, Verstappen ninth as Leclerc crash ends qualifying

2023 Miami Grand Prix qualifying

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Sergio Perez secured pole position for the Miami Grand Prix after Charles Leclerc crashed in the final lap of qualifying, leaving Max Verstappen down in ninth place.

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix winner set the provisional pole time on his first Q3 run as team mate Verstappen abandoned his lap after an error. Leclerc spun out in the final minutes, bringing out a red flag that ended the session, dooming Verstappen to ninth place. Fernando Alonso will start second on the grid, with Carlos Sainz Jnr third for Ferrari.


Despite pre-event forecasts of rain, sunny skies greeted the drivers as the first phase of qualifying began in Miami. Valtteri Bottas set the initial pace with a 1’29.358, but Kevin Magnussen put his Haas on top with a time half a second quicker.

Verstappen headed out to post his first time on the soft tyres, going easily quickest, but was beaten by team mate Sergio Perez by a tenth of a second. Charles Leclerc put his Ferrari into second with his first flying lap of the session, with Fernando Alonso fourth in the Aston Martin.

Lewis Hamilton hit trouble on his first lap of the session, running wide at the hairpin on his first flying lap. Then on his in-lap, he almost collided with Magussen’s Haas on the way into the same hairpin, the Mercedes clipping the wall on the right hand side. The stewards announced they would investigate the incident after qualifying.

Verstappen returned to the top of the times with an improvement on his next lap, setting the fastest time of the weekend so far. Carlos Sainz Jnr moved into second in his Ferrari, less than a tenth quicker than Perez in third.

Heading into the final five minutes of the session, both Hamilton and Mercedes team mate George Russell found themselves in danger of elimination and needed to make their final flying laps count. Also in danger were the two McLarens of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris, with Logan Sargeant the final car set to be eliminated.

As the chequered flag flew, both Mercedes duly secured passage into Q2 by moving out of the drop zone, which dropped Yuki Tsunoda and Lance Stroll into elimination. The former was beaten by his team mate Nyck de Vries for the first time in a qualifying session this year.

Both McLarens also improved on their own times but failed to get out of the bottom five. Lando Norris fell short by just seven-hundredths of a second, and was told to sit tight in his car while his team checked none of his rivals had breached track limits, but nothing came of it. Sargeant was the final driver to miss the cut, eliminated slowest in the Williams at his home race.

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Q1 result

11Max VerstappenRed BullRB191’27.3636
255Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-231’27.6860.3238
311Sergio PerezRed BullRB191’27.7130.3508
416Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’27.7130.3508
520Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-231’27.8090.4469
644Lewis HamiltonMercedesW141’27.8460.4839
777Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’27.8640.50110
831Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5231’27.8720.5099
927Nico HulkenbergHaas-FerrariVF-231’27.9450.58210
1010Pierre GaslyAlpine-RenaultA5231’28.0610.6989
1163George RussellMercedesW141’28.0860.7239
1214Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’28.1790.8168
1324Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’28.1800.81710
1423Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW451’28.2340.8719
1521Nyck de VriesAlphaTauri-Red BullAT041’28.3250.96210
164Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’28.3941.0318
1722Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red BullAT041’28.4291.06610
1818Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’28.4761.1138
1981Oscar PiastriMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’28.4841.1219
202Logan SargeantWilliams-MercedesFW451’28.5771.21410

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The second session of qualifying began with both Verstappen and Perez heading out on fresh soft tyres. They were joined in doing so by Alonso’s Aston Martin, while the Mercedes pair of Hamilton and Russell opted to run on used sets of softs.

Verstappen went even faster on his first lap in Q2 than he did in Q1, setting a 1’27.110 to go comfortably to the top of the times. Perez’s first effort was two tenths of a second slower than his team mate’s, while Alonso was a further tenth-and-a-half behind after his first attempt of the session.

The Mercedes were well off the pace of Verstappen’s lap, a full second adrift. Russell was a tenth-and-a-half quicker than team mate Hamilton.

Then it was the turn of the Ferraris to take to the track, with both Leclerc and Sainz heading out on fresh soft tyres. Sainz was only fractionally slower than Verstappen with his first flying lap, moving into second place, while Leclerc’s first effort was only good enough for fifth behind Alonso.

With the minutes counting down, both Mercedes were sat in the drop zone for the second consecutive session. Also in need of improvement were Zhou Guanyu, Magnussen and Nyck de Vries in the AlphaTauri. In the rush to take to the track for the final time, Nico Hulkenberg appeared to be released by Haas directly in front of Alonso, who had been released himself a moment earlier.

Verstappen improved on his own best time to break under 1’27 for the first time, but Hamilton could only manage 13th on his final effort and was eliminated. Zhou and De Vries also could not improve by enough to secure their place in Q3, but Magnussen did secure a top ten berth with his final lap.

Russell narrowly claimed a place in Q3 by five hundredths of a second, ending the session in tenth place. With Magnussen and Russell through, that knocked both Albon and Hulkenberg out of the session in 11th and 12th places respectively.

Q2 result

11Max VerstappenRed BullRB191’26.81412
216Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’26.9640.15014
314Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’27.0970.28314
455Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-231’27.1480.33413
511Sergio PerezRed BullRB191’27.3280.51416
631Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5231’27.4440.63015
777Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’27.5640.75014
810Pierre GaslyAlpine-RenaultA5231’27.6120.79815
920Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-231’27.6730.85915
1063George RussellMercedesW141’27.7430.92915
1123Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW451’27.7950.98115
1227Nico HulkenbergHaas-FerrariVF-231’27.9031.08915
1344Lewis HamiltonMercedesW141’27.9751.16115
1424Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’28.0911.27717
1521Nyck de VriesAlphaTauri-Red BullAT041’28.3951.58116

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With Leclerc’s Ferrari the closest to Verstappen’s fastest Q2 lap, it seemed that Red Bull would face stiff competition in their efforts to secure a front row lockout. When the green light appeared to begin the final, Verstappen was the first driver out on the circuit, soon followed by team mate Perez – both on fresh sets of soft tyres.

Verstappen was the first over the line to begin his lap, but a mistake through the long turns six, seven and eight led him to abandon his first flying lap, while Perez set a provisional pole position time of 1’26.841. Alonso went second fastest on a used set of tyres, three tenths slower than the Red Bull driver, with Sainz sitting third after his first lap on a new set of softs.

Verstappen returned to the pits without setting a time, waiting until just over three minutes remained until venture back out with team mate Perez right behind him. The two Ferraris were the first over the line with just over two minutes on the clock to start their final laps, Leclerc first ahead of Sainz.

As Leclerc made his way around turn six, he lost the rear of his Ferrari and spun through 360 degrees, ending up in the barrier for the second time in consecutive days. The yellow flags flew, ruining the laps of all over drivers following behind him, including his team mate.

Moments later, the session was red flagged with only 1’36 remaining. With such limited time remaining, race director Niels Wittich declared that the session would not be resumed, confirming that Perez had secured pole position and leaving Verstappen down in ninth place after failing to have set a time in the final session.

Alonso claimed second on the grid for Aston Martin, with Sainz third for Ferrari. Magnussen took a provisional fourth place for Haas, but remains under investigation for his Q1 incident with Hamilton. Pierre Gasly took fifth place for Alpine, with Russell sixth and Leclerc seventh, but with a damaged Ferrari.

Esteban Ocon was eighth in the second Alpine, with Verstappen qualifying down in ninth and Valtteri Bottas tenth after his only run was spoiled by the red flag.

Q3 result

111Sergio PerezRed BullRB191’26.84120
214Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’27.2020.36119
355Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-231’27.3490.50818
420Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-231’27.7670.92619
510Pierre GaslyAlpine-RenaultA5231’27.7860.94520
663George RussellMercedesW141’27.8040.96320
716Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’27.8611.02019
831Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5231’27.9351.09420
91Max VerstappenRed BullRB19No time15
1077Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC43No time15

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2023 Miami Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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49 comments on “Perez on pole, Verstappen ninth as Leclerc crash ends qualifying”

  1. Dave Collitt
    6th May 2023, 22:23

    Verstappen just desserts

    1. No , Max’s 9th is a thing that Justhappens occasionally.

  2. I keep insisting on the fact that qualifying laps have to be done early due to risks such as these. That’s the real punishment in failing to maximize the available time to perform the laps.

    1. For sure, and especially for Verstappen who had no time it was a risk to leave it so late. Especially at a track like this.

      He’ll probably be P2 within a few laps, but this didn’t do him any favours.

    2. I have a problem that Leclerc can cause a red flag in the session and gets to keep his time set in the session. This is open to exploiting (Ie. Checo in Monoco). Effectively by crashing, Leclerc cost Max and others a chance to set a better time than him. So in the future just set a time then crash to end the session? Guaranteed pole. The fix is easy, if you cause a red flag in a session, you lose your times for that session.

      1. I would love the deletion of the best lap time as is the case in other motorsports. It’s the only thing that makes sense to be honest.

      2. @leeroy I think it’s beyond time that some rule along these lines is implemented. This wasn’t a particularly egregious example, but it now happens in Monaco more often than not, which is a shame since in Monaco qualifying is usually the only thing that matters.

        1. Indeed, in particular, leclerc himself crashed in monaco in 2021 and were it not for ferrari’s negligence, he’d have started on pole, and then again I think he crashed in one of the baku quali sessions and started the “race” (think sprint) on pole, stopping others from improving.

      3. I agree. Sounds very logical. It is not even een penalty..You do not complete the session due to a fault, so you are simply last of the group participating in that session.

  3. Perhaps the top three drivers in Formula 1, certainly the ‘senior’ drivers of their respective teams – Verstappen, Hamilton and Leclerc – all having a bad day. Mercedes are in a terrible place. Leclerc, as so often on a knife edge between brilliance and catastrophe. Verstappen? He looked like he’d got the weekend sorted. He may need a wet race now to have much chance of catching Perez. But maybe not. At least the race will be worth watching.
    Rain and the track will be chaos.

    1. I don’t think Checo showed enough pace that he’d be far enough ahead of the field by the time Max makes it to #2.

      1. @proesterchen True, that’s why I said ‘maybe not’, kind of correcting myself immediately: Max will probably be quicker and Perez may need some luck to not be caught and passed.

      2. Perez said on the post Quali interview that his weekend so far hasn’t been great. He was not 100% confident with the car. But he put the quick lap when it mattered. Call it luck if you want, he got lucky today, he might get lucky tomorrow too, especially if VER gets stuck on a DRS train with the cars in front of him.

        The top 3 on the grid showed close pace between them, it will make for an interesting race tomorrow. The AM might fade during race and Carlos might be the one pressing PER at least on the first stint.
        We’ll see.

        1. My point was not about qualifying at all.

          I was commenting on where I expect Checo to be in the race by the time Max makes it to second place (which I expect to be in the lap 12-15 range under normal race conditions), and that to me, Checo has not shown the pace this weekend to build a significant-enough gap in that time.

        2. Dont think Carlos has the car or the confidence to fight a Red Bull. He will probably settle for whichever position he is at just like at Baku, if not worse.

    2. Redbull will sabotage checo, you just wait for it. No way they will allow him to win and lead championship.

      1. Why not? It is a great motivation for Checo who is finally, after two seasons of contributing little to none to the team, delivering his part of the deal. A win tomorrow will finally see him up where we want him. In the end it will be straightened out in a natural way anyway over the course of an entire season, once we get past these horrible street tracks. RB has nothing to be worried about.

        1. Cant agree to the fact that his contribution has been little to none. He role was instrumental in AD 2021 and he has racked up the points that Red Bull needed to win constructors in 2022. In 2023, he has already won 2 races. Certainly doing a much better job than Gasly or Albon at the second Red Bull.

          1. Good point. Maybe my perspective was more towards not having been much help to Max vs the role Bottas always played for Lewis. AD 2021 was the very first time checo was of some help to Max but in the end it was not what made the difference anyway. I am talking about consistently picking up the pieces when the other doesn’t (which he now finally does this season) and being a buffer car that needs to be passed first before other drivers can get to Max. I feel he has not been strong in delivering that but is considerably better this season.

      2. This isn’t the first time Red Bull are dealing with a #2 driver with an inflated sense of his own abilities.

      3. I don’t see why. There are another 18 races to go after this one. Verstappen is heavy, heavy favourite to win the championship by a comfortable margin by the end of the year, regardless of the result here. The longer Perez stays in contention, the better for RB because it gives the impression that there is a fight for the championship, and takes focus away from the fact they are dominating the sport. It looks a lot worse if Verstappen is a hundred points clear early in the season because then all the fans, pundits and F1 will talk about is how to bring back some competition to the sport (how to reign in RB).

        1. Yes, and not sure if teams make money out of having more people attending races, but liberty definitely does, and a close championship fight definitely helps with that rather than a 2020 borefest.

  4. qualifying should never just end. They need to go back and look at the rulebook in the off season to account for these red flags in qual.

    1. “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” is the common argument given by this website when they bring up the topic of Qually formats. Will they, or for that matter F1 itself ever admit that one driver being able to ruin the flying laps of everybody else with no recourse; is infact broken and not representative of a fair grid where the fastest is at the front.

      1. Agree it’s broken, so it has to be fixed, example: when a red flag happens, if time left is under 3 mins, it’s extended back to 3 mins, to ensure drivers have enough time for a last run.

        1. Davethechicken
          7th May 2023, 15:18

          Just to provide some balance, I hear and agree what you are saying, but q3 is the only time we see drivers really pushing the car and tyres to maximum.
          Add the jeopardy that a red flag (which is any incident where the car can’t drive back to the pits at good speed) and you delete the times, is kinda going to mean much more conservative driving.
          I don’t want that.
          Leave it as it is.
          Every driver knows if they don’t get a good first run in Q3 they are vulnerable.

  5. Things just got interesting. Nice.

  6. Charles being Charles. Embarrassing.

    As is the FIA race director, who could have red-flagged the session earlier or not declare it over despite there being enough time for at least one or two of the drivers to make it back to the start/finish line in time to do a lap.

  7. Good stuff.
    An interesting grid :)

  8. As much as I like Leclerc, who has a distinct style reminiscent of some old fan favourites, these kind of things just happen too often. This is his fifth season at Ferrari. I get that it’s frustrating to never be quite there with the car compared to Red Bull, but be that as it may, his job is to put it in P3.

    Wittich being slow as usual, mucking around with the yellow flag while precious seconds tick away that robbed fans and drivers alike of another lap. Not that those post red flag laps tend to be better, but still.

    1. Agree, I also like him and tend to not criticize his mistakes cause he’s in a situation where he’s not fighting for the title, has a faster car in quali than in the race, so makes sense to risk to get some pole and maybe try to defend in the race, but indeed I think the mistakes are starting to get too frequent, more than I’ve seen from him when he was younger even, as soon as I saw him crash I knew he’d have got a lot of criticism on here cause I’ve already seen some in previous races.

    2. Spot on, gave me flashbacks of Monza and France last year. Needs to be far more consistent.

  9. Today is another example of why Leclerc has a long way to go to be considered WDC material. He’s wasting a relatively decent car with these unforced errors. Yes, the Ferrari is not as quick as the Red Bull, but it’s quicker than both Aston Martin and Mercedes.

    1. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
      7th May 2023, 1:11

      I’m confused as to why people say this as both Hamilton and Verstappen (as today showed) both have mistakes in them. If Ferrari were consistent in car development and managed the most basic strategy calls – Leclerc may have been closer to a title last year.

      1. I think it’s because Max and Lewis very rarely have car-destroying mistakes in them. It’s one thing to mess up and abandon a qualy lap, quite another to bury the car in the barrier. I’m a huge fan of Charles, but I can’t see him stringing a championship campaign together based on his time in F1 thus far. I really hope he proves me wrong!

        1. @tommy-c @come-on-kubica @nvherman I think it’s just his intense-mode driving style; usually he’s a smooth and talented driver, but when he pushes he’s on the edge between brilliance and losing it catastrophically. Hamilton and Verstappen seem more able to feel that limit to adherence, also reflected in the fact that both are better than Leclerc on wet tracks.

          1. @david-br unfortunately, he crosses that line too often. Much was made by Steiner regarding the costs of Mick Schumacher, but I reckon Leclerc is high up that list as well.
            As you say, neither Hamilton nor Verstappen tend to destroy their cars.

    2. This is why He is an example of a potential WDC, getting more than expected out of the car by pushing the limits. In the current Ferrari there is little chance of beating RBR this is the only way. In equal machinery He’d have been on pole.

      1. One thing people tend to forget is verstappen made a lot of mistakes too in the first half of 2018, and he was in a similar situation as leclerc, in fact I’d say a bit better when it comes to this year: he had a car that was only in for the occasional victory on pace, so he went all out and made more mistakes than his team mate, even in 2017, although early 2018 was the peak of mistakes for verstappen.

        However, leclerc has been making more mistakes lately than he made the previous years too, so it’s an unusual trend.

        1. Davethechicken
          7th May 2023, 15:27

          The Red Bull from 2016 to 2018 wasn’t at Merc levels but was a race winning and pole capable car. Remember Riccardo managed 3 poles, several race wins and many fastest laps in it. I don’t think many, in hindsight, believe Daniel was a truly great driver either. Puts a little more context on how good that car was.

    3. I would rather see Leclerc trying to take it to the edge and make a mistake rather than settle for a top 5 in qualifying.

  10. How fantastic to see the top 6 in 6 different cars. We might well be in for a surprise winner tomorrow. Concerning just how many empty seats there were in the grandstands. Is the Netflix effect starting to fade already or were ticket prices just absurd for this event?

    1. I heard the broadcast people doing their best to tell the event is great and attendance is great and even mentioned the old saying that the fans are there, just not on the stands because it is too hot and they are at the concession stands or in the shadow away from the sunlight.
      In reality ticket prices are extremely absurd for this event, and I am not surprised by the low attendance, tomorrow might be better attendance but the overall 3 day weekend will end in red numbers for the too greedy promoter.

      Let’s watch the pre-race show tomorrow and see if the big black self-entitled arrogant woman (Stallion something’) bumps into Brundle in the grid, if so seeing Brundle shoved away for a second time would be hilarious.

      1. And not just the US. I was considering going to Monza this year, until I learned the ticket just for the race was almost the price of an entire weekend 2 years ago.

    2. @tommy-c well, unless something unusual happens, it will be a Red Bull driver on the top step of the podium.
      Not exactly an unusual occurrence

    3. Is the Netflix effect starting to fade already or were ticket prices just absurd for this event?

      Over on Reddit quite a few locals who are going, or went last year, are saying that they’ve been approached by the organisers about buying (more) tickets. They’re not selling out, that’s for sure.

      Prices for F1 are always way too high for the amount of tracktime, but it does seem the most likely reason (and the lack of a ‘first event’ hype) that they’re struggling to fill the seats. Usually people don’t buy tickets right before the event, so any talk of the weather being a factor seems a bit of a distraction.

  11. Alonso did his Q3 quali lap on used tires too. I know it was arguably the way to go though. Not for Stroll though.

  12. At least one of the best qualifying sessions over the past years for all the talk of a boring race. Loads of different teams with the possibility of upsets and a true battle of getting into Q3 with 9 teams in the mix – only McLaren out of the loop. The margin for errors was very small. The red flag was a testament to that and will make things very interesting as there are now drivers having to fight their way through the upper midfield.
    Hoping for a great race, though Perez looks to be the early big favourit due to position and car, only a safety car could really ruin that (and it will come, most like more than once), but there will be harsh fighting for the podium positions.

    1. PS.

      There are too many calls for a restart of the session and give the drivers enough time to finish another lap, but then people forget that nearly every single team would be sitting in the paddock and wait until the final minutes to go out. People want a show and cars on the track, not sitting and waiting for best track conditions. The current rule force people on the track and I am a fan of it.

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