Max Verstappen was shocked at how competitive his Red Bull was in qualifying after hydraulic issues on Friday; He starts Sunday’s race in third place behind Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz; Watch Sunday’s Miami GP live on Sky Sports F1 at 8.30pm with build-up from 7pm
Last Updated: 08/05/22 12:00am
Max Verstappen said he was “pretty pleased” to start Sunday’s Miami GP in third, despite a late error which cost the Red Bull driver a potential pole position.
Verstappen was pipped by Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in a tense final few minutes of qualifying after making a crucial error into Turn 4 which forced him to abandon his final flying lap of the session.
Verstappen had overcome a multitude of reliability issues with his car on Friday when hydraulic problems and a precautionary gearbox change meant he only completed five full laps of Formula One’s newest circuit.
Despite his error in Q3 costing him what could have been a front-row start, Verstappen was pleased with how he recovered from Friday’s setbacks and he appeared shocked that he was even in contention for pole position.
“Overall I am pretty pleased with qualifying. Literally, I did four or five laps yesterday so today I was still trying to learn the track and trying to find a decent balance in the car,” said the world champion.
“To be that competitive in qualifying, I was a bit surprised.
“This is not an easy track to learn. Of course you want to be on pole, but where we came from I think we did a really good job. We have to start making the weekends a little less difficult.
“We have a good chance tomorrow. We have a bit of speed. The car is handling quite well. I’m looking forward to that.”
Leclerc put in solid performances across all three practice sessions before going up a gear to clinch pole as his championship battle with Verstappen intensifies.
The Ferrari driver believes Red Bull will be stronger on Sunday, but with team-mate Sainz alongside him on the front row, he is confident of returning to the top of the podium after finishing seventh at the previous race in Imola.
“I am very happy, I feel at ease with the car,” Leclerc said.
“It’s a car where you need to think a lot to go fast, but for now I feel at ease. It’s good to be starting on pole and we need to finish the job tomorrow.
“I always think there is more pace whenever I finish a qualy. Maybe today a bit more than other qualifyings, but we are starting on pole anyway so I am very happy with this.
“We don’t know about race pace, especially with Max because he didn’t run in P2, but with more laps, I am sure he will only be more competitive.
“It is going to be tight tomorrow, but it is great to have Carlos by my side and hopefully we can keep those positions until the end of the race.”
Sainz: I feel confident with the car
It has been a testing few weeks for Sainz, his crashes at the Australian Grand Prix and Imola putting a dent in the Spaniard’s confidence.
After Friday’s second practice, it seemed things had gone from bad to worse as he crashed out at the tricky Turn 14 to make it three crashes in three weekends.
Although many expected a conservative qualifying, a resurgence ensued and he finished in second spot, admitting that regaining his confidence has come through having trust in his car.
“I recovered a bit from a pretty heavy crash yesterday,” he told Sky Sports.
“It wasn’t easy at all to get the confidence back at a difficult circuit like this at Miami but I kept it cool until Q3.
“I managed to pull out a couple of good laps, not quite enough for pole position, but given from where I was coming from I will take it.
“Tomorrow it is going to be an interesting day with everything that is going on this weekend.
“I haven’t done any long runs yet with fuel on the car and tried it so tomorrow will be the first time to have a feel.
“So it will be quite challenging but at the same time, I am feeling confident with the car.
“The car is really good to drive around here so I think we can do a good job.”
Sunday’s schedule on Sky Sports F1
3.20pm: W Series Race Two
7pm: Grand Prix Sunday: Miami GP Build-up
8.30pm: THE MIAMI GRAND PRIX*
10.30pm: Chequered Flag: Miami GP Reaction*
11.30pm: Ted’s Notebook*
*Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event (qualifying and race build-up simulcast from 8.30pm and 7.30pm respectively)
**Simulcast on Sky Showcase