Miami Grand Prix 2023: Lewis Hamilton qualifies 13th as Sergio Perez claims pole position
Lewis Hamilton suffered his worst ever qualifying session on American soil in a dramatic hour at the Miami Grand Prix which was cut short following a Charles Leclerc crash.
The timing of the Ferrari driver’s accident at Turn 7 resulted in the session being red flagged and finally abandoned with a minute and a half remaining.
Max Verstappen had failed to post a lap time at that point so will start Sunday’s race in a lowly ninth place with teammate and title rival Sergio Perez on pole.
It paves the way for a potentially mouth-watering race with seven cars between the Red Bull pair. Perez, backed by a big number of Mexican fans, will move into the lead of the championship should he win the race immaterial of Verstappen’s finishing position.
Hamilton had a nightmare session and is 13th place on the grid. The seven-time world champion looked to have the beating of teammate George Russell until his final lap of Q2 after which he remonstrated with his team over the race radio for leaving it too late to send him out.
After qualifying, Hamilton, who had also hit the walll in Q1 after being held up by Kevin Magnussen, said: “It was a difficult session. We’re not that quick so we really needed perfect laps but it was difficult to get into a rhythm.
“We knew it was hard and there was a 50-50 chance we could get into Q3 so we need to be better with our timing. It’s done, I’ll try and get my head down tomorrow and see what I can do - 13th to God knows where.”
Mercedes narrowly avoided having both drivers missing out on Q3 as Russell snuck in via the 10th and final qualifying spot.
Red Bull have again been comfortably the quickest car this weekend and Sunday’s race looked set to be little more than a fight for the win between Verstappen and Perez as has been the case for most of the 2023 season.
But just as qualifying reached its climax, Leclerc spun off the track and into the barriers, which led to the session being called off and an expletive-laden response by Verstappen over the race radio.
Perez will be joined on the front row by Fernando Alonso with Carlos Sainz behind them and Kevin Magnussen a surprise fourth place, while Russell did well to qualify in sixth in what had looked a relatively uncompetitive Mercedes.
It proved a disastrous qualifying session for McLaren, with neither of their drivers coming out of Q1 - Lando Norris in 16th and Oscar Piastri second last for the race start.