Max Verstappen establishes himself as clear favourite for Qualifying with impressive showing in Practice Three; Charles Leclerc second for Ferrari ahead of Sergio Perez; watch Miami GP Qualifying live on Sky Sports F1 at 9pm, build-up from 8pm
Last Updated: 06/05/23 7:04pm
Max Verstappen continued to set the pace at the Miami Grand Prix as he topped final practice ahead of Qualifying later on Saturday.
The world championship leader backed up his impressive display in Friday’s second practice by delivering a 1:27.535 to finish 0.4s clear of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in second.
Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who trails the Dutchman by six points at the top of the drivers’ standings, was third.
Perez’s victories in both the Sprint and race last weekend in Azerbaijan has led to much discussion about an intra-Red Bull title battle, but Verstappen appears to be in a league of his own at the Miami International Autodrome.
Carlos Sainz was fourth for Ferrari, who once more look set to be Red Bull’s closest challengers in Qualifying.
However, the picture behind the top four appears far less certain, with the track’s rapidly developing new surface making it hard to assess performance.
After a nightmare weekend in Azerbaijan, Alpine appeared to begin the reap the benefits of major upgrades that were brought to their car in Baku, with Esteban Ocon finishing in a place ahead of team-mate Pierre Gasly in fifth.
Valtteri Bottas was seventh for Alfa Romeo, with Haas’s Nico Hulkenberg and Williams’ Alex Albon behind him.
Mercedes continued to struggle with George Russell 10th and Lewis Hamilton 13th, with the Silver Arrows potentially facing a challenge to make it into the final part of Qualifying.
Also notably outside of the top 10 were Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll, who finished 12th and 14th respectively.
The slippery surface saw lots of drivers struggle for grip, with Albon and Norris among several who went off track.
The challenging conditions look set to ensure a tense Qualifying session, with mistakes likely to be a major factor as the drivers push their cars to the limit.
There also could be additional jeopardy added by the weather, with showers forecast as a possibility when Qualifying gets underway at 9pm.
The Formula 1 season continues with the Miami GP this weekend. Watch qualifying at 9pm on Saturday with lights out at 8.30pm on Sunday. Get Sky Sports