Charles Leclerc took pole position in a stunning battle for pole at the inaugural Miami Grand Prix qualifying session, his title rival Max Verstappen settling for third on the grid – while Carlos Sainz backed up a Ferrari one-two.
Leclerc aced the first two qualifying sessions but Verstappen was closing in, setting up a grandstand finish in the top-10 shootout. Q3 saw the reigning champion take provisional pole but Leclerc eclipsed him for a final pole time of 1m 28.796s, Sainz filing in second by 0.190s.
Verstappen made a mistake in his final flying lap and was eventually third, just 0.005s behind Sainz, while Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez took P4.
Valtteri Bottas, a new Ferrari power unit in his Alfa Romeo, delivered with P5 – ahead of Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, who was sixth despite having had to put in a quick final lap in Q1 to avoid elimination.
Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda both made it to Q3 for AlphaTauri, the Frenchman qualifying seventh and the Japanese driver ninth. Between them was Lando Norris, eighth in qualifying despite going P3 in Q2. Lance Stroll rounded out the top 10 for Aston Martin.
Alpine’s Fernando Alonso missed out on Q3 in P11, ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell – who dealt with severe porpoising in Q2 – while Sebastian Vettel was disappointed to take P13 for Aston Martin. Gear shift issues for Daniel Ricciardo put him 14th on the grid for McLaren, while Mick Schumacher was last in Q2, finishing P15 on Saturday.
His Haas team mate Kevin Magnussen (P16) missed out on Q2 by a tenth, and Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu took P17 having been compromised by traffic in his final flying run. Neither Williams driver made it out of Q1, Alex Albon taking P18 and Nicholas Latifi 19th.
Esteban Ocon did not take part in qualifying after his FP3 crash and is likely to start Sunday’s Grand Prix from the pit lane.
See the full story and qualifying results: