Ferrari moves into front row for inaugural Miami Grand Prix – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Ferrari stormed to the front of the grid for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix as Formula One championship leader Charles Leclerc and teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. locked down the front row in qualifying on Saturday.

It’s the first time Ferrari will lead the field on green in the United States since Michael Schumacher took pole at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2006. It’s the front row ahead of this season for Sainz, who was overqualified by Leclerc within five sessions.

Leclerc won three poles this year ahead of Sunday, F1’s first race on the purpose-built circuit around the Hard Rock Stadium. The race marks the first of two this year in the United States – which has not hosted two F1 races in the same year since 1984.

Leclerc turned to the roaring crowd and saluted while being interviewed by retired IndyCar and NASCAR driver Danica Patrick.

“The fans are crazy. It’s amazing to be here in the United States and see how much support has grown over the past few years,” Leclerc said. “I saw so many people in the stands. It definitely motivates us.

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen led the final qualifying segment until the Dutchman made a rare mistake and both Ferraris edged him out in the dying seconds. He will leave third Sunday; Leclerc and Verstappen shared the first four races, two wins each.

“It’s quite slippery outside the normal racing line, but we’ll see. A lot can happen,” Verstappen said.

Sergio Perez finished fourth as Red Bull locked down the second row. Earlier on Saturday, Red Bull boss Christian Horner denied a rumor that the team was planning to sign Fernando Alonso for 2023 and said talks over an extension for Perez would begin during F1’s summer break. .

“Checo is doing a great job. He drives at a very high level. He’s more comfortable on the team this year,” Horner said. “We are satisfied with the work he is doing. However, we’ve only seen a sample of four races, so it’s still early in the year.

Valtteri Bottas qualified fifth, one place ahead of former Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Bottas was replaced this year at Mercedes by George Russell, leading to speculation at Imola two weeks ago that Bottas had a grudge based on his late-race battle with Russell for the position.

“No, it’s points, I was looking for points and always really trying to maximize every opportunity, every position you can take,” Bottas said. “The goal was more points rather than a person.”

Hamilton qualified sixth in a small improvement for Mercedes, which has struggled since launching its new car. He outqualified Russell, who was fastest in Friday’s second practice session, but failed to make it out of the second lap and finished 12th.

“I just don’t think I have confidence in the car today,” Russell told his Mercedes team via radio.

Hamilton, meanwhile, had both former First Lady Michelle Obama and director George Lucas watching from his pit. Hamilton had a rocky weekend opener when he arrived at the venue on Friday wearing all the jewelry he could put on to protest the FIA’s new crackdown on wearing bling during competition.

Hamilton said he had piercings he couldn’t remove and was willing to sign a liability waiver. The FIA, F1’s governing body, says the jewelry is a safety hazard. On Saturday, he amended the ban to include wristwatches.

“Clearly the regulations are there to protect drivers; on the other side, we have to keep the possibility of diversity and means of expression and of expressing oneself,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. “And we know it’s important to Lewis, so without going into detail where the piercing stayed…I’m sure they’ll come to a good resolution.”

It was a disappointing weekend for Haas F1, the team owned by California businessman Gene Haas, which also owns a NASCAR team with Tony Stewart. The team has improved a lot at the start of this season compared to last year when Haas was worst on the grid and failed to score a single point all year.

But in qualifying, Kevin Magnussen, who has 15 points from the first four races, failed to make it out of the opening lap. Mick Schumacher qualified for the second round but qualified only 15th, one place ahead of Magnussen, and ‘the American F1 team’ will have a long drive on Sunday to impress the expected 85,000 spectators.

At least half of the IndyCar paddock is in Miami for the event and that includes Michael Andretti and his father, 1978 F1 champion Mario Andretti. Michael Andretti failed last year to buy an existing F1 team and has since called for its expansion to create a new two-car team.

He received no response from the FIA ​​or Liberty Media, the American company that owns F1. Andretti wants to bring Colton Herta, a 22-year-old IndyCar driver from California, to F1, but Herta has signed a test contract with McLaren as Andretti awaits his fate.

The paddock did not seem eager to welcome two new cars to the grid anytime soon, as Wolff said on Saturday he was against stock market dilution and other team principals stressed the expansion should only happen. do that if the team was planning a legitimate effort.

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