Last year in 2022, both Ferrari drivers began Formula 1’s first-ever Grand Prix at Miami from the winning positions by locking out the front row.
Charles Leclerc led by Carlos Sainz who led Max Verstappen in a Ferrari 1-2 start at the incredibly famous racing venue in Florida, often so popular for Daytona.
But ultimately, the 2022 world champion Max Verstappen prevailed at the end with the Red Bull triumphing up ahead of the Leclerc and Sainz pairing.
This year, however, in complete contrast to Leclerc and Verstappen’s 2022 fortunes, neither of the Ferrari drivers have grabbed pole position for the second ever Miami Grand Prix; even Verstappen’s Red Bull is down the order.
Leclerc’s session ending shunt towards the closing stages of a fast and furious and dramatic qualifying session on Saturday meant that the famous Monegasque fell outside the top five.
Ferrari’s most recent pole sitter of 2023, i.e., Leclerc begins the forthcoming contest from seventh on the grid. Meanwhile, his arch rival Verstappen begins from ninth on the grid after a quali run that was far from satisfying.
The biggest movers and shakers under the soaring track temperatures of Miami on Saturday being an exceedingly bright Hispanic trio of Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz, the very three drivers who made quite the headlines earlier on in Australia.
A point to note here being that this is an all Spanish speaking trio that we have in the 2023 start at the start of a contest.
Eyeing nothing else but what could well be a famous win that could send him to the top of the leadership charts, Sergio Perez, our pole sitter, has his task cut out.
Meanwhile, fast akin to a raging storm and utterly unsparing despite being anything but the youngest on the grid, Fernando Alonso put his Aston Martin in a commanding position by locking in a second.
That said, the only saving grace from a Ferrari perspective was Sainz with his third.
As critical as the start of the 54-lap race, one reckons, will be the craft of tyre management and should Sainz manage that well, he could be in for an exciting afternoon. Although, the most spectacular battle early up would be how the younger Spaniard will look to attack the most experienced driver on the current grid, his own hero: Alonso.
That said, the clear standout outside the top three in a belter of a session was Kevin Magnussen of Haas, the driver of an American team putting on quite a show for the American fans out there.
For someone who’s come under close scrutiny insofar, with Gunther Steiner saying before the start of the Azerbaijan race that “We are giving Kevin five more races to prove his mettle,” K-Mag, it ought to be said, is on the edge but then has also responded well to the challenge.
Pierre Gasly bagged a personal best grid position of P5, the best he’s done so far for Alpine thus far. He would be followed by George Russell, the better of the Mercedes drivers in qualifying; the Kings Lynn-born begins from P6.
That told, Leclerc in seventh will be followed by a fighting troika of Esteban Ocon, who’s got a point to prove this season, Verstappen in eighth, who will surely go on an all out attack to make for lost ground on Saturday and Valtteri Bottas who begins from tenth for Alfa Romeo.
It wasn’t such a delightful outcome for Lewis Hamilton, who begins his Miami drive from down in thirteenth with Alex Albon and the experienced Nico Hulkenberg in the other Haas up ahead.
Hamilton struggled for sheer pace required to contest a quali session with much impact and will now put all his sterling experience into play in a bid to pass the cars up ahead.
Surely that Mercedes must have some bursts of pace when compared to Williams and Haas but then how easy might that be given the probability of overtaking on a street course are just about as plain as holding breath for several minutes underwater.
Norris and Piastri struggled for extra pace and grip and didn’t quite register a magnificent result on Saturday as the only real gainer on the final six on the grid was Zhou Guanyu who begins from fourteenth.
All that told, the real battle up in the front will likely be Alonso’s pursuit of Perez, the latter being in real rich vein of form that could play the definitive factor in the soon-to-start race.
And what Ferrari will really like is to get into the act early and perhaps challenge the duo in front of him for a track position.
But will it be any easy? Will Sergio Perez, the street king, have any of Alonso or Sainz’s challenge?
Who will rule and who’ll be roasted in the Miami heat? It’s all to play for in round 5 of the championship.