Max Verstappen will start from pole position for the second time this weekend, after calmly repeating his Sprint success in today’s qualifying session for the full-distance Miami Grand Prix.

Verstappen was 0.162s quicker than Charles Leclerc whose Ferrari team mate Carlos Sainz will line up alongside Sergio Perez on the second row, while Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri made it an all-McLaren row 3.

There were no incidents during the session, but Fernando Alonso was a surprise elimination at the end of Q2, and RB’s Sprint star Daniel Ricciardo had a reversal of fortune and missed the first cut, meaning he will start tomorrow’s race from the back of the grid.

With the small matter of the Sprint behind us, it was time to move on to the main event of the weekend – the Miami Grand Prix. Could anyone to stop Max Verstappen repeating his earlier sweep of pole and race victory at Miami International Autodrome? Frankly it looked like a slim prospect.

It was another hot afternoon in Miami with track temperature at 46C, but the wind had picked by the time the drivers headed out. McLaren had successfully repaired Lando Norris’ car after his accident in the Sprint, and Lance Stroll was also straight into action after Aston Martin had tended to the damage to his car sustained in the same incident.

Q1: Verstappen and Perez quickest, but Sprint star Ricciardo eliminated

When the track went green, everyone needed a slow and cautious out lap to protect their soft tyres for their flying laps. Nico Hulkenberg took an early lead in the session with a time of 1:28.945s but the times soon tumbled as Mercedes and Ferrari laid down their markers. Verstappen was late to come out to play, but despite complaining about the sound of his clutch as he exited the garage his initial time of 1:28.945s was over a tenth clear of the rest of the field

A new fastest final sector by Williams’ Logan Sargeant was a heads-up of a rapidly evolving track which enabled Sainz to go top by 0.086s. At one point, less than a hundredth of a second covered the top four. But first Perez and then Verstappen soon drew ahead. Meanwhile at risk of elimination in the bottom five were Sargeant, Kevin Magnussen, Pierre Gasly, Zhou Guanyu and Alex Albon.

The final runs saw Verstappen rise to the top with a time of 1:27.689s ahead of Perez, Norris and Sainz with Pierre Gasly a surprise fifth from Piastri and Leclerc. Fernando Alonso came within one hundredths of a second of missing the cut but just scrambled through leaving Valtteri Bottas on the wrong side along with his Sauber team mate Zhou Guanyu. Sargeant and Magnussen also failed to make it. The big surprise was the elimination of Daniel Ricciardo after his brilliant Sprint performance leaving his Yuki Tsunoda to fly the RB colours from here. A grid penalty held over from China means Ricciardo will start tomorrow’s race at the back.

Q2: Leclerc pips Verstappen and Hamilton as Alonso and Stroll miss out on the top ten

This time there was an extended pause before the cars started to trundle down pit lane. Charles Leclerc’s benchmark lap of 1:27.533s put him ahead of the two McLarens of Piastri and Norris with Sainz fourth ahead of Verstappen. Esteban Ocon was left on the wrong side of the cut in P11, as were Lewis Hamilton and the two Astons, along with Alex Albon who had run deep into the final corner at turn 17 to bring out local yellow flags, wrecking his tyres meaning he was yet to set a time as he headed back to pit lane.

After a short pause, everyone was heading back out for a final push. Fernando Alonso was first to complete his final run, and it wasn’t enough to get him out of the bottom five – he was out. By contrast, Lewis Hamilton pulled out something special to go up to P2 and safety through to the final round, unlike the case in yesterday’s Sprint qualifying. Verstappen then moved ahead but was still 0.033s slower than Leclerc.

Joining Alonso in the drop done as the dust clear was his Aston team mate Lance Stroll and the two Alpines of Ocon and Pierre Gasly. Albon did manage to get a run in before the chequered flag but it was only good enough for P14 meaning the Williams was also out.

Q3: Verstappen takes charge of pole, Ferrari next in line ahead of Perez

One final 12 minute session decided the front five rows for tomorrow’s race. Perez went top early, but he was just a placeholder for his team mate Verstappen who took over with a time of 1:27.241s. The two Ferrari drivers stepped into second and third ahead of Piastri, which pushed Perez down to P5. Norris had been out on a set of mediums and ended up sixth ahead of the two Mercedes cars.

After that burst of activity, a hush fell over the circuit as the teams prepared for one last flying lap. Mercedes put Lewis Hamilton and George Russell on fresh mediums but everyone else was on the more conventional route of softs. Perez edged up to fourth and Norris found a little something extra to go fifth, but Piastri didn’t improve on his existing time. Leclerc bounced over the kerbs to deny him a chance of trying for pole, even though Verstappen didn’t find any extra pace. Russell and Hamilton ended up seventh and eighth with Hulkenberg and Tsunoda rounding out the top ten for tomorrow’s grid.

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter

The post Miami GP: Verstappen back on pole again ahead of Leclerc appeared first on