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Fate lends a hand as Perez takes Miami pole


Other than the Red Bulls and Ferraris, the timesheet at the end of FP3 had all the makings of the revers grid that Ross Brawn has yearned for for so long... though not when he was actually working for a team.

Ocon, Gasly, Bottas, Hulkenberg and Albon were all up there, while the likes of Hamilton, Alonso and the McLaren pair were consigned to the nether regions.

While the ever evolving track played a significant part, as did the actual timing of when drivers carried out their runs, the fact is that some are struggling a lot more than others.

The Aston Martins and Mercedes appear to have the opposite of Ferrari's usual problem in that they have race lap pace here but not single lap pace.

Whether this continues into qualifying remains to be seen, however adding to the conundrum is the fact that we are expecting rain tomorrow.

In many ways qualifying is going to be lottery, for based on the evidence thus far we expect a few incident maybe even a red flag or two.

Nonetheless, with Fernando Alonso warning that overtaking will be difficult a good grid position is going to be vital.

Ahead of Q1 the air temperature is 29 degrees C, while the track temperature is 45 degrees.

Never mind tomorrow, race control claims there is a 30% chance of rain over the next hour.

The lights go green and Sargeant leads the way, followed by his Williams teammate, Zhou, Bottas and Tsunoda.

Soon all bar the Ferraris and Aston Martins are on track.

With an eye on the tow, much as it was last weekend, a number of teams are running their drivers together.

Albon sets a benchmark 30.967 but understandably this is soon beaten, by Bottas (29.964), as Hulkenberg gets up close and very personal with the4 barriers.

Magnussen goes quickest and Norris second while Russell can only manage third.

A 28.424 sees Verstappen go quickest but his teammate responds with a 28.306.

Gasly goes third and Ocon fourth, ahead of Magnussen, Piastri and Norris.

"It's looking pretty windy out there," Perez is warned.

Leclerc goes second with a 28.422 while a 28.732 sees Sainz go fourth.

Zhou goes sixth and Albon ninth.

Hamilton reveals that he has hit the wall with his front wing. He subsequently pits having failed to post a time.

Replay shows the seven-time champ hit the wall after trying to avoid Magnussen who had come to a halt on the racing line. The incident has been noted.

Alonso goes fourth with a 28.606 while Russell can only manage 18th (29.880).

However, next time around Russell goes quickest in S1, though moments later Verstappen goes quicker.

Gasly goes sixth, while Russell improves to eighth with a 28.733.

Leclerc goes quickest (27.895) and Ocon sixth.

"The Ferrari (Sainz) just squeezed me into the wall," complains Zhou, "what is he doing."

The stewards will investigate the Magnussen/Hamilton incident after the session.

Verstappen goes quickest with a 27.363 as Hamilton improves to tenth (28.703).

With 5:00 remaining, Sargeant, Albon, Tsunoda, Norris and de Vries comprise the drop zone, with Hulkenberg, Bottas and Zhou hovering.

Albon improves to fifth with a 28.397, while Sargeant goes thirteenth.

A 27.957 sees Hulkenberg go fourth as conditions clearly improve.

De Vries goes eighth as Hulkenberg almost collects an AlphaTauri in the pitlane.

Magnussen can only manage thirteenth as Hamilton drops into the drop zone.

With less than two minutes remaining, all bar the Bulls are on track.

That said, Perez heads out.

Magnussen goes third as the track ramps up.

Sainz goes second, Sargeant thirteenth, Alonso eighth and Norris eleventh.

The timing screen is lit up mainly in green as Ocon goes sixth, only to be demoted by Bottas.

Russell goes tenth and Hamilton sixth which is bad news for Norris.

De Vries makes it by the skin of his teeth while both McLarens are out, as is Stroll.

Verstappen is quickest, ahead of Sainz, Perez, Leclerc, Magnussen, Hamilton, Bottas, Ocon, Hulkenberg and Gasly.

We lose Norris, Tsunoda, Stroll, Piastri and Sargeant.

Verstappen clearly can't wait for Q2 to get underway, the Dutchman ready and waiting at the end of the pitlane.

The Dutchman heads out, followed by his teammate, Zhou, Russell and Hamilton.

Verstappen posts a benchmark 27.110, while Perez crosses the line at27.328.

Russell goes third, albeit 1.077s off the pace.

A 27.498 sees Alonso go third, the Spaniard just 0.388s off the pace.

Hulkenberg goes fourth and Haas teammate Magnussen fifth.

A big wobble in Turn 17 causes Hamilton to abort his first flying lap.

He subsequently goes seventh with a 28.340.

De Vries goes ninth, but is demoted when Ocon goes fourth with a 27.674. Teammate Gasly goes fifth with a 27.813.

Sainz is slightly quicker than his teammate in S1, the Spaniard maintain the pace in S2. At the line Leclerc posts a 27.514 to go fourth, but is demoted when Sainz goes second with a 27.148, just 0.038s off Verstappen's pace.

The Alfa pair are last out as Perez admits: "I clipped the wall on the entry of Turn 4".

Zhou goes 11th with a 28.091 while Bottas claims sixth with a 27.564.

With 2:10 remaining, Zhou, Magnussen, Russell, Hamilton and de Vries comprise the drop zone.

Quickest in the final two sectors, Leclerc goes quickest with a 26.964. However, Verstappen is on a hot lap.

Magnussen goes seventh, while Verstappen retakes the top spot with a 26.814.

Alonso goes third, Ocon sixth and Russell ninth, however a mistake in the final sector sees Hamilton fail to improve.

"We left that way too late guys," says Hamilton.

Gasly goes eighth at the death to demote Albon.

Quickest is Verstappen, ahead of Leclerc, Alonso, Sainz, Perez, Ocon, Bottas, Gasly, Magnussen and Russell.

We lose Albon, Hulkenberg, Hamilton, Zhou and de Vries.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Miami here.


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