Charles Leclerc Heads Ferrari Front Row Lock Out

Formula 1 2022: Miami Gp Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc took his third pole position of 2022 as Ferrari locked out the front row ahead of the first Miami Grand Prix, after Max Verstappen made an error on his final run.

The Monegasque set a 1:28.796 to edge out teammate Carlos Sainz.

Leclerc, whose four wins have all come from pole position, said: “Today went well, we are starting on pole and we need to finish the job tomorrow. They (Red Bull) are extremely quick in the straight lines; we are quick in the corners. It feels really good to come here and put everything together on such a difficult track. Although I was not very happy with turns 1-2-3, it was a good lap and I’m really glad to have secured pole. I feel at ease with the car. It feels great to drive and really makes you think of how to extract its full potential. Tomorrow will be a tight race and it is good to have Carlos by my side. The pace is there for both our cars and hopefully we can keep our positions until the end to bring home a strong result for our team.”

World champion Verstappen, who only completed 14 laps on Friday, was initially fastest after the first flying laps in Q3 and ended up third, with teammate Perez in fourth.

Mercedes had seemed closer to the ultimate pace through Friday practice, but could only muster sixth with Lewis Hamilton, beaten by former driver Valtteri Bottas in his Alfa Romeo.

The second Silver Arrow of George Russell will start from 12th.

Practice on Friday and Saturday had seen stoppages for accidents as drivers explored the limits of the Miami International Autrodrome, but there were no stoppages at all in any of the three qualifying sessions.

Leclerc, who leads the championship by 27-points, has already won twice in 2022, in Bahrain and Australia.

A Four-Way Tussle On Sunday?

Mercedes had threatened to join the party at the front, but when it mattered, Ferrari and Red Bull had too much pace and locked down the top four positions.

Leclerc set the fastest time, although teammate Sainz was on target for the pole himself for much of his final run, Leclerc gaining time through the sequence between turns 11 and 16.

The Spaniard was pleased with his second-place effort having crashed out in FP2 on Friday.

The 27-year-old said: “Building back from a heavy crash yesterday, it wasn’t easy to get the confidence back at a tricky circuit. I think I kept it cool for Q3, given where I was coming from yesterday, I’ll take it. I haven’t done any long runs yet; I haven’t put the fuel in so the laps to the grid will be the first time I try that.”

“I’m pretty happy with my qualifying. It was a strong comeback after yesterday and I managed to improve run after run, to finally fight for pole up until the very last corner. I had fun out there, pushing the car, and we are in a good position for tomorrow.”

“This track has proven to be very tricky and starting from the front row will help for sure. We will do everything to maximise the potential for the race, as there are a lot of factors to take into account. Congrats to the entire team and to Charles for a well executed session.”

Both Ferrari drivers have been able to extract speed immediately from the F1-75, Sainz crossing the limit twice in practice.

The prancing Horse pair will face stiff competition though from the Red Bull’s of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

The Dutchman had shown he had the pace for pole before the oversteer moment on his final flying lap, after which Verstappen backed out of his lap.

Verstappen said: “Overall I’ve pretty pleased with qualifying. Today was still trying to learn the track, so to be that competitive in qualifying was a surprise. Of course, you want to be on pole but from where we came from, it’s a good job.”

Red Bull and Verstappen remain hopeful of challenging for victory in Sunday’s race, with Verstappen saying: “We have a good chance for tomorrow, we have good top speed.”

Sergio Perez, who has claimed that overtaking will be tough, will also hope to be in play, whether to shoot for victory himself or be used strategically by the team to disrupt the Ferrari pair ahead.

If overtaking is as tricky as the Mexican has suggested it might be, getting a Red Bull in front of a Ferrari might prove crucial in how the race plays out.

All the strategy plans could be thrown out the window come race day, with the potential for safety cars, virtual safety cars, red flags or possible weather affecting the grand prix.

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