Perez relieved to take Miami pole after enduring 'worst weekend up to qualifying'
Sergio Perez took his third career F1 pole position with P1 for the 2023 Miami Grand Prix, and the Red Bull driver exuded relief and excitement after a dramatic qualifying session on Saturday.
Perez took provisional pole while team mate Max Verstappen had to abort his first flying lap due to a snap of oversteer, which left the reigning champion scrambling to set another lap.
Unfortunately for the Dutchman, Charles Leclerc spun off in the dying moments of Q3 and left the championship leader ninth on the grid for Sunday’s race. For Perez, it was a first pole position at a Grand Prix venue other than Jeddah.
“I think it’s been my worst weekend up to qualifying,” he said.
“I just couldn’t figure out how to pull those tenths that I was missing all the time to Max and to the Ferraris. I was just re-setting everything. We did a small change into qualifying that really made everything became more alive. I think with this tarmac we were just playing a bit with the tools, and we put the lap in when it mattered.”
The Mexican driver, who is just six points behind his team mate before Sunday’s race, finished 11th in FP1, fourth in FP2 and third in FP3 – while Verstappen topped the latter two practice sessions, plus Q1 and Q2, before falling to ninth on the grid.
Perez said he was missing “everything” in his chase for pole.
“It wasn’t coming together,” he continued. “It’s one of those weekends where I was struggling for balance, confidence. This tarmac is very sensitive to temperatures, so…”
But, in a state with a strong Latin-American community, the crowd were clearly delighted to see the Mexican Red Bull driver on pole position. And, even though he's in a fraught intra-team battle for the championship lead, Perez said he was relishing that support.
“No, I’m enjoying it," he added. "I’m just thinking race by race. I will go out… for my team because they’ve done a tremendous job and see what happens tomorrow.
“Tomorrow is a new opportunity, starting from pole. We are the ones that have [something] to lose, but we will just go out there and try to enjoy this amazing crowd."