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‘Somehow we were first!’ – Verstappen amazed to emerge with pole after ‘terrible’ Sprint Qualifying in Miami

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Max Verstappen expressed his shock at claiming pole position during Sprint Qualifying at the Miami International Autodrome, having experienced an “incredibly difficult” time behind the wheel of his Red Bull.

With the Sprint format in play for the second successive weekend, drivers were required to use Pirelli’s medium tyres through the SQ1 and SQ2 phases before moving to the softs in SQ3, leading to a tricky balancing act.

READ MORE: Verstappen claims pole in Miami Sprint Qualifying ahead of Leclerc and Perez

Speaking afterwards, Verstappen admitted that he struggled to get the most out of his tyres throughout the session, particularly in the pole shootout, where he nonetheless emerged with the fastest time of 1m 27.641s.

Asked about claiming his first Sprint Qualifying pole of the season, and how the afternoon unfolded from his perspective, the Dutchman replied: “To be honest with you, it felt pretty terrible!

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 03: Sprint Pole qualifier Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red

Verstappen made up for missing out on pole during Sprint Qualifying in China with his run to P1 in Miami

“I don’t know, maybe that last session it was just incredibly difficult to get the tyres to work. Already in SQ2 I didn’t feel great. In SQ3, I think it just felt similar for me, I didn’t really improve a lot on the soft, but somehow we were first.

“Of course, I’ll happily take it, but it didn’t really feel enjoyable out there to drive for whatever reason. In practice, it felt really, really nice, I was very comfortable and confident, but in qualifying not so much.”

AS IT HAPPENED: Follow all the action from Sprint Qualifying at the Miami Grand Prix

Verstappen was then asked for his thoughts on Lando Norris and McLaren – who took pole for the Sprint race in China last time out – falling away when the soft tyres arrived in SQ3, and how close the field was when the session drew to a close.

“After practice I was quite confident that we could fight for pole, then in qualifying it didn’t really look like that, but somehow we still ended up in first,” he added, having finished a tenth clear of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. “I don’t know what happened to the other cars in the last lap.”

2024 Miami GP Sprint Qualifying: The moment Max Verstappen seals pole for the Sprint

Verstappen’s team mate, Sergio Perez, wound up another tenth away in third position as he rued his own challenging run in the decisive SQ3 segment.

“I think given that it’s only a single shot on that soft tyre, it’s down to a bit of luck on what the car is going to do… in the soft there is no progression,” the Mexican commented. “I think we got caught out with that a little bit.

IN PHOTOS: Check out the special driver helmets and one-off car liveries at the Miami Grand Prix

“Unfortunately, that wasn’t ideal, so we’ve got some work to do there, but hopefully tomorrow we can sort it out and the most important in these days is to get the points, maximum points tomorrow in the Sprint, and then focus for the race.”

He added: “I think we’ve headed in the right direction, especially for tomorrow, so hopefully we can see a stronger race pace and we can fight from there.”

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