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What the teams said – Sprint Qualifying in Miami

Special Contributor

Becky Hart
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MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 03: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes looks on in the garage prior

Red Bull

Red Bull had some issues in practice with rear locking, but certainly looked quick and seemed to have pace in hand too. But come qualifying, conditions changed and so did the feel in the car. Verstappen only went for one run in SQ2 and left it late to make it into the top 10. Once into SQ3, everyone went for just one lap – and despite fighting his car around the last few corners, Verstappen did enough to grab pole for the Sprint. Perez was just pipped by Leclerc, and starts third.

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

Max Verstappen, 1st, 1:27.641

“The practice session was really nice and I felt really confident and comfortable with the car. Honestly, I am quite surprised that we got P1 for the Sprint qualifying; it felt a bit different as I couldn’t really push or feel too confident on the tyres and get a nice balance on the car. On a track surface like this, it means that if you are a little bit out with the tyres it makes a big difference, but I think everyone else particularly struggled with the final run on the soft tyres. We have a few things to analyse and question why it felt a bit different from qualifying, but we should get it together fine for tomorrow. All in all, we have a great starting position for the Sprint and hopefully we can maximise this. Once the tyres stablilise, we should be back on track.”

Sergio Perez, 3rd, 1:27.876

“It was a tricky session, we had one shot on that soft compound but we just didn’t maximise it and we got caught out a little bit with the grip, it changed here and there. Given that we only had a single go on that soft tyre it is down to a bit of luck about what the car is going to do. It is very challenging to go from just one practice into that session but it’s the same for everyone. I think the McLarens were the fastest cars out there, but they just couldn’t work it out on the soft compound. We have some work to do there and hopefully by tomorrow we can work it out. The aim will be to get as many points as possible in the Sprint and then we will go from there into the race. I think we are heading in the right direction and hopefully we can see a stronger race pace.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal

“It was a very good qualifying for us in the end and it looked for a while in Q2, on the medium tyre, that we weren't potentially the strongest car. The wind was definitely a factor today but I think both drivers did a very good job and to line up first and third was more than we were expecting. You could hear the surprise in Max's voice on the slowdown lap because he didn't feel the lap had actually been good enough to capture the pole, it was just evident that everybody was struggling with the conditions. It all came good in the end and great to be starting on the front, first and third for tomorrow's race, but still a lot to do.”

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 03: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing prepares to drive in the garage during Sprint Qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at Miami International Autodrome on May 03, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Ferrari

It wasn’t an ideal start to the weekend for Leclerc, who spun very early on in practice. His clutch overheated as he tried to get his car pointed the right way, causing a red flag and ending his session. As such, he did impressively well in Sprint Qualifying, quick from word go. He nailed his final lap to more than make up for his early mistake to grab a spot on the front row, while Sainz had to settle for fifth in the end.

READ MORE: Leclerc delighted to bounce back in Sprint Qualifying after working on ‘weak point’

Charles Leclerc, 2nd, 1:27.749

"I’m happy with my qualifying today as I can see that the work I put in over the last few weeks to improve tyre preparation has paid off. It was a tough one, as with only one timed lap completed in free practice, I had to go flat out straight into qualifying but I felt comfortable in the car from the start of the session.

"We’ll go for it in the Sprint Race tomorrow, we don’t know much about the race pace for now but let’s hope we have a good one and go into Sunday with good chances for the win."

Carlos Sainz, 5th, 1:28.103

"It hasn’t been a great Friday. The feeling in the car changed between sessions and we struggled more during the Sprint Qualifying.

"The lap on the Soft tyre however was coming together more or less ok, but I went for it into turn 17 and made a costly mistake which dropped me to P5.

"Tomorrow we'll try to recover and then we have another chance to work on the car and turn it around for the Grand Prix qualifying and the main race on Sunday."

Fred Vasseur, Team Principal

"Today we saw a situation similar to last weekend’s qualifying when the circumstances can change massively from one compound to another, while being very close between the top three or four teams. Both our drivers felt more comfortable on the soft compound and we can be quite pleased with how things went. Charles did particularly well, after not really doing this morning’s free practice. Carlos was matching him up until the last sector where he lost a bit of time.

"It’s quite difficult to have a clear picture regarding tomorrow’s race because we, along with many others, didn’t do a long run. We will use the Sprint race as part of our preparation for Sunday and see if the set-up choices we made will give us an advantage in terms of tyre management. We will need a good start, especially for Carlos, but I think we are in with a chance."

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 03: Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari walks from his car after spinning on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at Miami International Autodrome on May 03, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

RB

Both RB drivers looked quick in practice, Tsunoda especially so considering he didn’t run the softs. As such it was a big surprise when the Japanese driver exited in SQ2. He opted to come out late for just the one run on the mediums but couldn’t find any grip and had his one lap time deleted for track limit infringements. By contrast, Ricciardo looked much more assured at a track where he hasn’t raced since 2022. He made the top 10, and grabbed a brilliant fourth on the grid to be in with a good shout of scoring his first points of the season.

Daniel Ricciardo, 4th, 1:28.044

“I feel really good about today, I have some good confidence in the car and the second row is awesome! The team brought updates to the last few races, changed my chassis at the previous race in China, and brought a new floor here in Miami. Things look like they’re turning around and I’m very proud of what the team and myself did today. We had a good session starting from SQ1, even if I made a mistake in the first lap, so we were putting ourselves under a bit of pressure. Then I found a good lap and we started to build up from SQ2. I’m a bit surprised to be P4 with my lap because I expected to be a lot quicker with the soft compound. Instead, the soft tyres didn’t give much more compared to the mediums. I touched the wall twice; I told the team that I was definitely trying to get everything out of it. Let’s see what happens in the Sprint race, but it’s a lot nicer to be in the front rows. This can definitely help stay cleaner in the first phase of the race, if not involved in a bit of chaos. I’d love to get some points tomorrow.”

Yuki Tsunoda, 15th, No time set in SQ2

“SQ1 was good, so the car was there but in the end, we weren’t able to maximise the performance. We tried with one push but it didn’t work out. I also wasn’t able to put it all together. In hindsight, two pushes maybe would’ve worked better for us but the pace the car showed does give me confidence for the remainder of the weekend.”

Alan Permane, Racing Director

“Obviously, a tremendous session for us and Daniel; really, really happy. Straightaway from the first laps this morning the car was performing well. We have an upgraded floor here and it’s performing as expected, so that’s given Daniel the confidence to push the car hard at this tricky track, with walls all around, and the result is fourth on the grid for tomorrow’s Sprint race. We need to have a deep look and understand what happened to Yuki in SQ2 because he’s been there, happy all day, and confident in the car. After his runs in SQ1, he was super confident and said he wanted to go for one timed lap in SQ2, and that was the right thing to do. It didn’t come together, but we’ll dig deeply into everything to try and understand it. It’s early in the weekend, so we have plenty more opportunities to get him up the front as well.”

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 03: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB walks to the garage prior to Sprint Qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at Miami International Autodrome on May 03, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

McLaren

Norris started his weekend with steering issues, which saw him spend the early part of practice in the garage. He had the full upgrade package for this weekend, with Piastri only running half of the updates, with team boss Zak Brown admitting the difference in performance would be around two tenths of a second. Come Sprint Qualifying, both cars looked very quick on the mediums, regularly topping the timing screens. Bolting on the softs in SQ3 cost them, neither able to extract the same pace. In fact, Norris’ lap time in SQ2 on the mediums was the fastest lap of the entire session.

FACTS AND STATS: Norris' SQ2 time good enough for pole but Verstappen takes P1

Lando Norris, 9th, 1:28.472

“The car was feeling very good throughout the session. In SQ3 we just seemed to overheat the tyres in the first sector which compromised the rest of the lap, but the team have done a good job getting the upgrades here and they are working. I’m happy with the progress we’ve made. The pace of the car is very good, let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”

Oscar Piastri, 6th, 1:28.161

“P6. Not too bad, all things considered. It could have been a slightly smoother run on the Soft tyre but it’s still a decent starting spot for the Sprint. I think a few cars are a little bit out of position, so it will be interesting to see what we can do tomorrow as the car seems quick. Even without the full upgrade package we’ve made a step forward, so thank you to the team for getting us to this point.” 

Andrea Stella, Team Principal

“We saw really strong performance from the car in Sprint Qualifying but ultimately, it wasn’t rewarded in the session that counted. Both drivers had issues on the Soft tyre that compromised the final result. However, we definitely take encouragement from the pace we’ve seen today. This is just the start of the weekend, and there are many opportunities to capitalise on the strength of the upgraded car we’ve brought to Miami. It’s been a great effort from the team at the factory to get it here, and we look forward to rewarding that effort with strong results across the weekend.”

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 03: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at Miami International Autodrome on May 03, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Aston Martin

Alonso didn’t bolt on the softs in FP1, but his team mate did and looked quick. Roll on Sprint Qualifying, and Alonso caused a heart in mouth moment when he kissed the wall, luckily escaping without any damage. Both drivers made it to SQ3, where Stroll out-qualified his team mate despite running on eight-lap-old soft tyres to Alonso’s fresh softs.

F1 EXPLAINS: Exploring car set-up with Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso, Pedro de la Rosa and Tom McCullough in Miami

Fernando Alonso, 8th, 1:28.419

“There was not a lot of grip to be found on track today so the conditions were quite tricky for Sprint Qualifying. But it was the same for everybody and we managed to get both cars into Q3 which was the target for today. We haven't done a lot of running on track, so it's a little unknown heading into the Sprint tomorrow. We'll see what we can do and try to have some fun.”

Lance Stroll, 7th, 1:28.375

“It was a good Sprint Qualifying, for sure. We chose to run a used Soft tyre in SQ3 and managed to qualify P7, which sets us up well for tomorrow. Our aim will be trying to pick up some points in the Sprint event.”

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 03: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Aston Martin AMR24 Mercedes on track during Sprint Qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at Miami International Autodrome on May 03, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Haas

Haas expected to go well at the track, but were carrying some tyre degradation concerns into this weekend. Nonetheless, getting Hulkenberg into SQ3 was a decent result – even if the German opted to run used soft tyres in that segment to save a fresh set for Qualifying tomorrow. Magnussen couldn’t quite match his team mate, having to settle for 14th.

Nico Hulkenberg, 10th, 1:28.476

“This morning I didn’t feel good in the car at all, but sometimes it takes a moment, and we managed to clean up the set-up for this afternoon. It’s tricky as you know with the Sprint you only get one practice session, and we got a little bit lucky in SQ1 as I was on the verge of going out as it wasn’t very clean on my side. In SQ2, it was very clean and well executed. In SQ3, we ran only a used set of softs so we have more for tomorrow and Sunday but it was tight out there.”

Kevin Magnussen, 14th, 1:28.614

“I had great pace and showed that in SQ1, but I wasn’t able to do a good lap in SQ2. It went wrong in Turn 7, I braked too late and didn’t make the apex, and the lap was gone. The previous lap before that, I had traffic so didn’t have that as a banker either but the pace in the car is good. Let’s see tomorrow as I think we have a car that can overtake here and hopefully we have the pace in the sprint to move forward as well.”

Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal

“Overall, it was a pretty good session; the target was always to get both cars into SQ2 which we managed. Nico was close to being out in SQ1, which he admitted himself was because his laps weren’t very good, so we were lucky to get through there. Kevin did an amazing job in SQ1, but unfortunately in SQ2 he didn’t put in a clean lap so he was out. Nico was the other way around, in SQ2 he delivered and that got us into SQ3. As always, we have to prioritise the main race, so we took the decision to not run a new set of softs, and instead ran a used set. We’re going to fight as much as we can tomorrow morning – it’s been a good start to the weekend.”

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 03: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany driving the (27) Haas F1 VF-24 Ferrari on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at Miami International Autodrome on May 03, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Mercedes

Mercedes looked quick in FP1, so it was a surprise to see both cars fall by the wayside in SQ2. Neither driver could get their medium tyres to work properly, both struggling with rear sliding especially in the final sector. They now have their work cut out to climb back into the points tomorrow.

READ MORE: Russell searching for answers after Mercedes’ double SQ2 exit in Miami as Hamilton braces himself for ‘tough’ Sprint

Lewis Hamilton, 12th, 1:28.371

"The car felt really good in FP1, and I was happy with the balance. Unfortunately, in Sprint Qualifying, the balance changed, and the car regressed. We were close to making it through to SQ3, but we were a decent chunk of being at the front. Starting from P12, the Sprint will be tough for us. I am not expecting a huge amount from there as it is not an easy circuit to either follow or overtake at. We will be trying our best to get the car into the points though."

George Russell, 11th, 1:28.343

"In FP1, the Soft tyre was feeling really good on our car. The pace was looking good but on the Medium compound in Sprint Qualifying, we just couldn’t get the car in the sweet spot. We found ourselves on the wrong side of the cut-off. It was very tight out there, with just a few hundredths of a second making it through to SQ3. We shouldn’t have been that close to being knocked out though and we will work hard this evening to find improvements.

"I’ve got no doubt we will move forward in the Sprint tomorrow. We need to get over our qualifying woes as it is always difficult starting on the back foot."

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

"We are understandably disappointed with how today unfolded. The team worked through a full programme in FP1 and both drivers were happy with the balance of the car. We opted to make changes that were relatively minor ahead of Sprint Qualifying, aiming to retain that goodness in the afternoon session. Unfortunately, and as we have seen on numerous occasions this year, we were unable to take the step that others were capable of come the session that mattered. The spread of the field was close, but we will not look to make excuses as to why both our cars were knocked out in SQ2. We need to do a better job of keeping the car in the right window and delivering the potential that we are showing in earlier sessions.

"The aim in the Sprint is to get both cars into the points. We know that will be a challenge from P11 and P12 but we will be fully focused on doing so. We will also be looking to use the Sprint to further our understanding of the car and to put it in a better place for Qualifying and the Grand Prix later in the weekend."

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 03: 12th placed qualifier Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes walks in the Pitlane during Sprint Qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at Miami International Autodrome on May 03, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Alpine

Not to be for Gasly who exited at the first time of asking, the Frenchman taking too much kerb and bouncing across the track which was not the fastest way to the finish line. Ocon did make it to SQ2 at least but could go no further – with the Sprint likely to be more of a test session for Alpine as they try and chase points for the Grand Prix itself on Sunday.

Esteban Ocon, 13th, 1:28.379

“It is positive that we progressed to the second part of Sprint Qualifying, but it is obviously disappointing to be so close and miss out on the top-10 by only half a tenth. It is also small encouraging signs that the gap is reducing. I was happy with the first lap in SQ2 and how the car felt, and the grip increased through the lap. But I pushed too hard on the second lap and struggled with the tyres towards the end. I was up in the first sector but could not hold it over the lap, which is also a good learning for Qualifying for the Grand Prix tomorrow. There are a few things we can work on and fix overnight and try to move forward in the Sprint and make that next step in Qualifying.”

Pierre Gasly, 16th, 1:29.185

“The car definitely felt better today and we were capable of progressing through SQ1. My first lap was strong but on my second attempt I lost the car through the fast changes of direction at Turns 5 and 6. That was not ideal and the lap was over from there with no way of improving. It’s a pity as it felt much more together today other than that snap on the lap which counts. We’ll spend some time to figure out a few things and see what we can improve tomorrow. We have the Sprint Race then Qualifying for Sunday’s Grand Prix in the afternoon, the one which counts the most. There’s much more to come from me this weekend.”

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 03: Esteban Ocon of France driving the (31) Alpine F1 A524 Renault on track during Sprint Qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at Miami International Autodrome on May 03, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Kick Sauber

Both Kick Sauber drivers exited in SQ1, but in the case of Bottas, it was a messy session. He was on a cooldown lap, changing some settings on his steering wheel when he realised far too late that Piastri was approaching on a hot lap. The two just about avoided a collision – with the Finn swift to berate his team for not warning him. The stewards did investigate after the session, and Bottas was duly hit with a three-place grid drop.

READ MORE: Bottas hit with three-place grid penalty for Miami Sprint after incident with Piastri in Sprint Qualifying

Valtteri Bottas, 18th, 1:29.360

“Today has been a rather challenging day in the office. We made big changes in terms of balance after the practice session, and the car felt quite different; there has been somewhat of a track reset as well, and it felt like we were missing some grip. On top of that, we unfortunately got caught in traffic during my push lap. I went off track after a close encounter with a McLaren, and the tyres never really recovered their temperature after that. Tomorrow’s starting positions for the Sprint are definitely not ideal; there is still a lot we can learn about the car, though, and as it’s still early in the weekend, we can try and turn this around for Sunday’s main event.”

Zhou Guanyu, 17th, 1:29.267

"Unfortunately, today didn’t go as we expected. We weren’t happy with where we were this morning during FP1 and, although we managed to address some of these issues, we couldn't get the balance of the car right for qualifying. I struggled quite a bit to find grip, which made it difficult to make it out of SQ1. We will investigate the root cause of this: tomorrow’s Sprint race is actually an opportunity for us to learn more about our race pace, and I am positive that we can have a reset before Qualifying and take a step forward with our performance.”

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative

“There are no excuses for today: when you finish 17th and 18th, it is clear that we have missed something in terms of preparation and execution. We could see from the morning that we needed to improve our car’s balance, especially in the low-speed corners, but we weren’t able to make a sufficient step forward to fight for SQ2. We didn’t have the cleanest laps, and traffic also contributed to a performance that is disappointing, and that we feel doesn’t correspond to our true potential here. We keep working to improve – our car, our performance, our operations: our focus, rather than on the Sprint, is on qualifying, where we want to put both cars in Q2 and see what we can achieve. Nothing is compromised yet: it was a bitter test today, but the weekend is still long. We need to work hard tonight, analyse everything and improve every single aspect of our performance.”

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 03: Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Kick Sauber C44 Ferrari on track during Sprint Qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at Miami International Autodrome on May 03, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Williams

Williams had a day to forget in Miami, with both drivers exiting Sprint Qualifying at the first time of asking. Albon was initially 16th, Sargeant P20 but then the Thai driver had his lap deleted for track limits, dropping him to last. It at least means Sargeant managed to out-qualify his team mate for the first time this year, but doesn’t bode well for good qualifying slots tomorrow for the Grand Prix itself.

READ MORE: 5 storylines to watch out for as F1 ACADEMY returns to action in Miami

Alex Albon, 20th, 1:29.858

"We tend to struggle a little in Sprint Qualifying sessions when using the harder compounds; we also changed quite a bit between FP1 and Qualifying and unfortunately, the gamble didn’t pay off. The things we changed were in the right direction, including a few aero pieces but they weren’t quite what we expected and ultimately, we over-compromised. We’ll wait until the Sprint race, then change the car setup and hopefully that will improve things."

Logan Sargeant, 19th, 1:29.551

"We had good pace in that session with a lot of potential, but I had a huge snap in Sector 1 which ended any chance of progressing. Unfortunately, in Sprint Qualifying you only get one set of tyres. We’ll see how the Sprint race goes tomorrow."

Sven Smeets, Sporting Director

"Evidently, we’re quite disappointed with the result in Sprint Qualifying. We made a number of set-up changes between FP1 and SQ but unfortunately, they didn’t pay off.

"We will use the Sprint race in the morning to gather valuable information so that we can improve the whole package for Qualifying and the Race on Sunday."

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 03: 20th placed qualifier Alexander Albon of Thailand and Williams walks in the Pitlane during Sprint Qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at Miami International Autodrome on May 03, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Clive Rose - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Pirelli

Simone Berra, Chief Engineer

“The Friday of a Sprint weekend is really busy and it was even more so here in Miami, where the very hot conditions, with track temperature exceeding 55 °C, made life tough for the drivers, the cars and the tyres. Very predictably, marked track evolution was a feature of the start of the day, with lap times coming down very quickly. This also affected the long runs because, generally, the times improved despite the thermal degradation being quite significant. From what we could see looking at the sets that had done the most laps, there were no signs of graining.

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the action from Sprint Qualifying in Miami as Verstappen grabs pole

"Sprint Qualifying proved to be rather unusual. While the track continued to evolve significantly for the first half, as from the end of SQ2, it was clear the times were not coming down or were even getting slower. This phenomenon became even more marked in SQ3 when the usual improvement going from the Medium to Soft was negligible or at least not significant, while usually the step in terms of lap time is usually quite marked. We will have to study the data carefully over the next few hours to try and understand why.

“As for tomorrow’s Sprint Race, clearly the Medium is the most suitable tyre to complete the 19 laps. However, I don’t feel able to rule out the Soft completely, as it could provide a significant grip advantage in the first few laps. However, with such a competitive field, maybe those starting further back might try to go this route especially to check its performance with an eye on its potential use in the first part of Sunday’s race. It could be a way of making up places off the line, before then managing the situation, perhaps holding position if a train of cars develops.”

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