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Miami Grand Prix 2023

Winners and Losers from 2023 Miami Grand Prix qualifying

It was a dramatic session in Miami to set the grid - and there were plenty of Winners and Losers in Florida.

Leclerc Miami
To news overview © XPBimages

Everything is bigger in America right?

Well, the dollop of drama served up in qualifying for the Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix certainly was huge and set-up a tantalising grid order with one title contender on pole position and the other stranded down in ninth.

Elsewhere, some bounced back after previous poor showings while one particular driver only added further credence to a growing trend.

So, let's get into the Winners and Losers from Qualifying in Miami - and we start with the pole-sitter.

Winner - Sergio Perez

Very simply, Sergio Perez must nail the start of the Miami Grand Prix, and then clear off. He has to convert this golden opportunity into a third win of the season.

It might be tough to do so, but he must forget Max Verstappen exists. He must put everything into getting as far up the road as he can before Verstappen inevitably clears the pack and sets off in pursuit.

The World Champion has had a few tenths in his pocket on a weekend Perez has described as one of his worst in terms of piecing everything together.

Opportunities like this do not come around often. It is the first real serious test of Perez's credentials to become World Champion. We will know a great deal more about them when the chequered flag falls.

What did Perez say?

"It has been my worst weekend up to qualifying. I just couldn't figure out how to do those things I was missing all the time to Max and the Ferraris. I was resetting everything and we did a small change into qualifying, and everything came more alive."

			© Red Bull Content Pool
	© Red Bull Content Pool

Loser - Max Verstappen

First runs in Q3 are called banker laps for a reason.

They are there just in case someone bins it on the final runs and brings out the red flags and the session cannot be resumed.

Given his pace advantage over Perez, Verstappen's banker lap would have been good enough for pole position, but never he completed it.

Mistakes through the fast flowing Sector 1 forced him to abandon the lap and present Perez was provisional pole.

And then the risk came.

Verstappen starts ninth, and will be looking to carve past the slower cars ahead such as the Mercedes of George Russell, Alpine duo, and Kevin Magnussen's Haas.

Do that, then he comes up against the likes of Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz. The question is, how far will he be behind Perez when the pursuit begins in earnest?

What did Verstappen say?

"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 that there is not going to be a red flag, but it can happen on the street circuit. So, I'm just a bit upset with myself. I mean, it's going to be tough. I've made it difficult for myself."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Winner - Carlos Sainz

Sainz has been the better of the Ferrari drivers throughout the Miami weekend, which marks a massive turnaround from the drubbing he took in Baku last week.

He felt the single practice session into parc ferme stymied him in Azerbaijan, and so has made the most of the Ferrari.

If we're being ultra-picky, perhaps he should have been ahead of Alonso, but P3 is a solid result of a driver who just needs a clean race to rebuild some confidence.

Sainz is a gritty, determined character who just needs to unlock some of the speed earlier in the season to be a threat.

But as long as you're not throwing it in the wall, you're good. Speaking of which...

What did Sainz say?

"It was coming together as a very good qualifying until the end. This P3 is not too bad, but I feel I had very strong pace and maybe we could have fought for more."

Loser - Charles Leclerc

"To crash once may be regarded as a misfortune; to do it again looks like carelessness," that may be a butchering of Oscar Wilde in The Importance of Being Earnest but it is starting to become something of a theme for Leclerc.

And not just this season. At crucial moments, the Monegasque usually finds himself in the barrier through a driving mistake. Baku 2019, Monaco 2021, France 2022. Miami 2023.

He fortunately got away with it in Azerbaijan qualifying, but a pattern is starting to develop.

Watching him begin that final lap in Q3, the thought passed the mind that he was either going to stick it on pole or in the fence - and so it proved. At the same corner he crashed at the end of FP2.

Reputations form quickly in F1 - and the one Leclerc, arguably the fastest driver over a single lap on the grid, is forming is not a good one. Rather than trying to be hero all the time, driving at 99% might be beneficial instead of 101%.

What did Leclerc say?

"I'm very hard with myself, but I also know what my strong points are and what it gives me on the other side by taking this much risk. But it's just very disappointing."

Winner - Kevin Magnussen

One beneficiary of the Leclerc red flag was Kevin Magnussen.

He was helped by the Ferrari making a mistake at Turn 17 on his first lap (see Verstappen and banker laps above), but still pumped in a lap that the likes of Pierre Gasly or Russell could not beat.

Sprint race nonsense aside (that Sao Paulo pole does not count in this author's opinion as Magnussen started the Grand Prix eighth) fourth place is the highest a Haas will ever have started a Grand Prix - and on home soil as well.

As Leclerc and Verstappen scythe through, Magnussen won't hang onto P4 by the end, but he needs a solid result just to reassert some dominance over Nico Hulkenberg who has out-shone him this season.

He also survived an investigation by the stewards for potentially blocking Lewis Hamilton.

What did Magnussen say?

"In the US, Miami Grand Prix, in front of the home crowd, title sponsors - it is great to be able to put on a result like that. It was a lot of fun and hopefully that gets everyone a bit pumped [for the race]."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Loser - Lewis Hamilton

This has been a dreadful weekend thus far for Mercedes.

Toto Wolff says the performance of the W14 has been worse than he feared, with the FP1-topping pace simply a fluke due to the drivers setting their Soft tyre runs at the end of the session when conditions were at their best.

At best, they are the fifth fastest team as Alpine have rebounded from their Baku horror show.

And it was Hamilton who bore the brunt of the misfortune by being dumped in Q2. It is the first time he's qualified outside the top six in the United States in his career, and will be 13th at best.

Mistakes on both Q2 laps were careless and the seven-time champion looks further away from winning races and chasing that eighth title he wants than ever before.

This is a team and driver firmly just waiting until Imola for the upgrades that have been touted as putting the team on a new path.

If that fails, who knows what will happen?

What did Hamilton say?

"We generally have struggled to have the true pace to get into Q3, we were just on the cusp of maybe getting in. Then right at the end, we just went out too late and I was at the back of maybe like seven cars and I started my lap with not enough temperature in my tyres."

Also interesting:

Balve Bains is joined by RacingNews365.com Editorial Director Dieter Rencken and Asia Correspondent Michael Butterworth to dissect the key talking points from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

F1 2023 Miami Grand Prix RN365 News dossier


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