Max Verstappen takes Miami sprint race pole ahead of Charles Leclerc

Verstappen in action
Verstappen in actionProfimedia
Red Bull's Max Verstappen (26) grabbed pole position for the Miami Grand Prix sprint race on Friday, the triple world champion joined on the front row by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc (26), who missed most of the morning practice after spinning out.

Triple world champion Verstappen, who came from fourth on the grid to win the first sprint race of year at the Chinese Grand Prix, will start from the front on Saturday after clocking the top time of one minute, 28.194 seconds around a steamy Miami International Autodrome.

"It felt really terrible," complained Verstappen. "It didn't feel enjoyable out there to drive for whatever reason because in practice it felt really, really nice.

"Somehow we ended up in first."

Leclerc's morning practice was brief, lasting just 10 minutes before he spun and came to a stop on the track to bring out the red flag.

But the Monegasque made no mistakes in qualifying, splitting the Red Bulls with Verstappen's team mate Sergio Perez going third fastest.

"Qualifying has been the weak point for two races in a row," said Leclerc. "I did one lap in free practice one, so had to go into qualifying and go flat out straight away.

"When you have two races in a row, where you are bad in qualifying and I haven't done a great job, people start to talk.

"So it's good to stop that, now we need to work on the consistency and try to stay at that level."

RB's Daniel Ricciardo, despite clipping the wall, enjoyed his best qualifying effort of the year and will start fourth alongside the Mexican but ahead of the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, the only driver other than Verstappen to win a race this season.

"I know it's in me but did I expect to do a second-row start? Probably not that good," said Ricciardo. "It was wild.

"Both laps I kissed the wall, I was definitely pushing.

"It's just so nice starting towards the front."

There were more distractions this week for Red Bull with top designer Adrian Newey announcing he would be leaving the team at the end of the year but on the track the championship leaders continued their domination.

Verstappen arrives in Florida with four wins from five races and a 25-point lead over team mate Sergio Perez.

The Dutchman is also looking to complete a Miami hat-trick having won the first race around the Hard Rock Stadium in 2022 and then again from ninth last May.

Verstappen has started all five races this season from pole position, making him the only driver this century to achieve that feat. French great Alain Prost, with Williams in 1993, was the last driver to take the first six poles of a season.

McLaren, who came into the Miami race with upgrades that they hoped will close the gap on the rampaging Red Bulls, continued to work out kinks as Australian young gun Oscar Piastri qualified sixth fastest, ahead of the Aston Martins of Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso.

McLaren's Lando Norris, who started from pole in the sprint at the Chinese Grand Prix, could do no better than ninth in Miami with Haas's Nico Hulkenberg 10th.

It was a hugely disappointing qualifying effort from Mercedes with both seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and George Russell going out in Q2.

Russell will start 11th while Hamilton, who also brushed the wall, will line up 12th


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