Max Verstappen wins pole position for Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix Sprint

• The world championship leader sets the fastest time from the front of the grid for tomorrow’s sprint in afternoon sprint qualifying.

• Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc joins Verstappen for the sprint – but misses morning practice with a spin that brought out the red flag

• Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth in sprint qualifying, while both Mercedes teams failed to crack the top ten in a thrilling knock-out session.

• Race fans flocked to the Miami International Autodrome as the on-track action got underway for the third edition of the Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix.

Miami Gardens, Fla. – An exciting day of on-track action ended at the Miami International Autodrome with Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen setting the fastest time of the day to secure pole position for tomorrow’s sprint. He crossed the finish line to record a lap of 1:27.641 – 0.108 seconds ahead of defending world champion Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari. Sergio Perez’s second Red Bull finished third, ahead of an impressive Daniel Ricciardo who set the fourth fastest time in his RB.

It was a dramatic finish to sprint qualifying for the Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix, as the top ten drivers were late to set times in one run on the 3.36-mile track. After showing impressive pace earlier in the day, the McLaren drivers of Oscar Piastre and Lando Norris finished sixth and ninth respectively – separated by two Aston Martins. But the surprise of sprint qualifying came when George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were both eliminated from the top ten shootouts in SQ2 – by the narrowest of margins. Hamilton reported on the team radio that he hit the wall on the exit of Turn 16 but continued unscathed. He was one of several drivers who lightly hit the barriers on the left-hand exit of the back straight.

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The Mercedes pair will start tomorrow’s 19-lap sprint in 11th and 12th, one place behind Nico Hulkenberg, who enjoyed a strong run in his Haas to finish tenth. Three periods of sprint qualifying were uneventful, although Alex Alban’s SQ1 lap was scrapped after he clipped the Turn 14/15 chicane, which left him one place behind Williams team-mate Logan. Sgt.

Earlier in the morning, Verstappen also set the pace in the opening one-hour practice session, finishing ahead of the Ferrari of Piastre and Carlos Sainz. At the start of the green flag run, Leclerc made a mistake, spinning at the exit of Turn 16, and with his Ferrari blocking his path, the red flag was waved to allow his stricken car to move on. The Monaco driver had no chance to set a competitive time and finished the morning session at the bottom of the time table.

Before FP1, on-track action began in the morning with the opening 40-minute practice session for the all-female F1 ACADEMY series. Championship leader Abby Pulling set the early pace in her Alpine-livery car, but by the end of the session Mercedes’ Dorian Pinn topped the timesheets. In a closely-fought field, the French racer edged Bulling by just 0.070s to finish in the top ten by less than a second.

Later in the afternoon, the second practice for the F1 ACADEMY took the top spot, two-tenths faster than his championship rival Pinnacle. The Mercedes-backed racer beat Pulling’s 1:59.237s, but had to settle for second after a small mistake at Turn 15 on his final run. Neria Marti was third ahead of America’s Chloe Chambers in her Haas-liveried car.

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It was a busy day at Miami Gardens as the atmosphere began to build ahead of this weekend’s races. Among the stars entertaining the fans was Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix Ambassador Günther Steiner, who appeared on a live edition of the F1 Explains podcast recorded in front of a large group of fans at the 300 Hard Rock Stadium. On the other side of campus, DJ Steve Augie entertained the crowd with his unique mix of music at the party-central Hard Rock Beach Club. Ed Sheeran also took part in today’s race ahead of his concert tomorrow afternoon.

Speaking at the official FIA Formula 1 Teams press conference this afternoon, McLaren Racing CEO Zach Brown praised the organizers of the Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix for helping to build F1 fan base in America. Tom Garfinkel and Tyler Epp do an amazing job, and if you look at the improvements they’ve made, they’re substantial. Miami is an amazing market that people love to travel to, and I haven’t seen it [the organizers] Sit quietly. They continue to grow and I think it’s a fantastic phenomenon that’s going to go from strength to strength.

Qualifying for the Grand Prix continues tomorrow at the Miami International Autodrome starting at 12pm with a 19-lap sprint race at 4pm. The first of two races in the F1 ACADEMY series will also feature saloon car action from the Porsche Carrera Cup North America and a live car auction by Bonhams Cars.

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