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Verstappen relieved to grab second pole on ‘incredibly tough’ weekend in Miami

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 04: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing looks on in

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen expressed his relief and satisfaction after making it two pole positions from two at this weekend’s Miami Grand Prix, having continued to struggle for confidence throughout qualifying.

Verstappen described a “terrible” experience en route to pole for the Sprint race as he and other drivers tried to make their tyres work effectively around Miami International Autodrome, with the Dutchman repeating that sentiment in the 100-kilometre dash thanks to “zero rear grip”.

READ MORE: Verstappen clinches pole position for Miami Grand Prix ahead of Leclerc and Sainz

With set-up changes now possible between the Sprint and qualifying for the Grand Prix, thanks to Parc Ferme regulations being lifted, Verstappen noted that he and Red Bull “definitely improved the car a bit”, but he still had to battle his way to the fastest time of the day.

At the end of the decisive Q3 phase, Verstappen wound up with pole thanks to a benchmark time of 1m 27.241s, narrowly getting the better of Ferrari pair Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, and team mate Sergio Perez.

2024 Miami GP Qualifying: The moment Max Verstappen seals his seventh pole position in a row

“I don’t know what it is, but every single year that we come here I find it extremely difficult to be very consistent with the car feeling, the tyre feeling, over one lap,” said Verstappen. “It’s just super hard to make sure that Sector 1 feels good and Sector 3 at the end of the lap... to make that happen together is incredibly tough.

“Again today, it was really about finding that balance. I think we did okay. It’s not the most enjoyable lap out of my career, just because of how slippery it is and how… you’re not very confident on the lap, but we’re on pole and that’s of course the most important [thing].”

HIGHLIGHTS: Catch the action from an eventful Sprint in Miami as Verstappen wins amid plenty of battles

Looking ahead to Sunday’s 57-lap race, Verstappen is optimistic about keeping the Ferraris behind him as he also noted some lessons taken from the start of the Sprint, where Leclerc challenged him for the lead.

“[The car] definitely feels a little bit more under control, which I was looking for,” he went on to comment. “Hopefully that will help us out tomorrow, but we’ll find out.

“I think we know what we did wrong [at the Sprint start], what I did wrong as well. I’m sure that if I do my things correctly – and we’re just very good with what we have been doing in the last few starts – then normally it should be alright.”

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 04: Pole position qualifier Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red

Verstappen has claimed pole position for all six Grands Prix so far this season

Perez, meanwhile, had to settle for a spot on the second row of the grid, two-tenths away from Verstappen’s pole time, as he rued a costly mistake in a challenging conclusion to his qualifying session.

“It was quite tricky,” he said afterwards. “Unfortunately, I didn’t get a clean Q3 run one when the track was at its best, I think. Then I did a slight mistake into Turn 8, which cost me at least the front row, probably pole. We just didn’t maximise it.

READ MORE: Who is Andrea Kimi Antonelli – and why is he such a hot topic in the Miami paddock?

“But I’m optimistic. It hurts to miss out on the front row by a couple of hundredths, but it’s how it is, the margins are super close. We did some mistakes with how we were setting up going into qualifying, so we’ve got to push and understand the issues, but we are getting a lot closer now.”

Asked about his chances of overhauling the Ferraris on Sunday, he signed off: “It’s going to be quite tricky given that they are strong, they have some really strong pace, so it will be an interesting battle with them tomorrow.”

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