Daniel Ricciardo Miami Grand Prix qualifying disaster, results: Max Verstappen blunder, Charles Leclerc pole

Daniel Ricciardo’s day started on a sour note and things only got worse in Miami as he watched another race weekend slip away.

World championship leader Charles Leclerc claimed pole position and led Ferrari to a front-row lockout on Sunday when he topped the times in qualifying for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix.

The 24-year-old Monegasque driver clocked a fastest lap of one minute and 28.796 seconds to outpace his teammate Carlos Sainz by two-tenths in front of an enthusiastic sell-out crowd at the Miami International Autodrome.

Defending world champion Max Verstappen was third after making a slight mistake on his final flying lap. His Red Bull colleague Sergio Perez was fourth with Valtteri Bottas fifth for Alfa Romeo and seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton sixth for Mercedes.

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After being reprimanded for ignoring the Race Director’s notes during practice, Daniel Ricciardo had a shocker, knocked out in Q2 as he watched McLaren teammate Lando Norris roll into Q3 before finishing eighth fastest.

Ricciardo will start 14th on the grid on Monday morning — a huge blow after qualifying sixth fastest and seventh fastest in his past two starts in Italy and Melbourne.

Sky Sports F1 commentator Martin Brundle said the result was a “big disappointment” for the Australian.

“He will start 14th. Ricciardo will be thoroughly disappointed with that, so will McLaren,” Brundle added.

Heading into this weekend Ricciardo (11th) was already well behind Norris (sixth) in the drivers’ standings, 24 points in arrears, and the British young gun will be looking to take advantage of his superior grid position to extend that lead over his stablemate on Monday.

It was Leclerc’s third pole this year and the 12th of his career. For Sainz it is the second time he had secured a front row start. It was Ferrari’s first front row lockout since the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix.

“It is amazing to be here and the fans are crazy,” said a delighted Leclerc. “It is going to be a big challenge tomorrow, but we feel very motivated as there are so many Ferrari fans here. Hopefully we can come out on top.”

Verstappen, who trails Leclerc by 27 points, swallowed his disappointment and said: “Overall, I am pretty pleased with qualifying as I only did four or five laps yesterday. But we have to start making these weekends less difficult.”

Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri qualified seventh ahead of Norris and Yuki Tsunoda in the second Alpha Tauri with Lance Stroll taking 10th for Aston Martin.

After his heavy shunt in the morning’s final practice, Esteban Ocon was unable to take part because his chassis had been cracked on impact with the barriers at Turn 14. He was unhurt and is expected to take part in Monday’s 57-lap race from the back of the grid in a rebuilt car.

The opening Q1 session began in heavy heat and humidity with an air temperature of 34 degrees and the track at 53 degrees, fatiguing conditions for all involved. The slight breeze was welcome.

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