Perez snatches Miami GP pole after Leclerc crash

·2-min read

Sergio Perez has been gifted pole position at the Miami Grand Prix after Ferrari's Charles Leclerc crashed in the top-10 shootout and Red Bull's championship leader Max Verstappen qualified ninth after being unable to set a time.

Leclerc brought out the red flags when he hit the barriers with a minute and 36 seconds remaining, with race control announcing the session would not resume.

"It has been my worst weekend up to qualifying," Perez said. "(But) we put in the lap when it mattered."

Verstappen, who leads teammate Perez by six points in the drivers' championship after four races, had failed to complete his first flying lap and had everything riding on a second that never happened.

Perez will go top of the championship if he can convert pole into his third win of the season and end double world champion Verstappen's almost year-long run at the top.

"I was trying to put it on the limit and then I made a mistake and had to abort the lap," said Verstappen, who had been consistently faster than Perez in practice.

"Then you rely on a bit of luck that there is not going to be a red flag but that can happen on a street circuit. I'm just a bit upset with myself."

Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso will line up alongside Perez on the front row.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz will be third, with Kevin Magnussen qualifying an astonishing fourth for Haas.

Alpine's Pierre Gasly will line up fifth with George Russell in sixth place on the grid for Mercedes and Leclerc seventh despite the crash.

Verstappen will also have to get past Alpine's Esteban Ocon in eighth.

Alonso's team mate Lance Stroll provided the early surprise by failing to make it out of the first phase, the Canadian qualifying only 18th.

Mercedes' seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton provided the next shock, with the most successful Formula One driver of all time only 13th in his worst-ever qualifying at any circuit in the United States.

"Left that way too late guys," Hamilton observed over the radio.

Williams' Alex Albon and Haas's Nico Hulkenberg qualified higher than Hamilton in 11th and 12th respectively.

McLaren's Lando Norris and his Australian teammate Oscar Piastri qualified 16th and 19th respectively.

"There was nothing that surprised us," Norris said. "We knew it would be difficult to get out of Q1 and it showed."