The Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc, leader of the Formula 1 World Championship, conquered this Saturday the ‘pole position’ of the Miami Grand Prix with the Spanish Carlos Sainz, his Ferrari teammate, occupying the second position.

Their great rivals, Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez, will start from the second row of the Miami starting line, which opens on Sunday (3:30 p.m. local – 9:30 p.m. GMT) as the headquarters of Formula 1 with the expected presence of a crowd of celebrities.

The Dutch Verstappen, current world champion, will start from third place followed by the Mexican ‘Checo’ Pérez, who had been the fastest in the last free trials on Saturday.

"We have a long race ahead of us and absolutely anything can happen."said Pérez, who is chasing the third win of his Formula 1 career.

Leclerc, who leads Verstappen by 27 points in the overall championship standings, secured his third pole of the year (and 12th of his career) on the final lap of qualifying at the Miami International Autodrome (5.412 km).

"The last weekend was not very good for me (at Imola), I made a mistake. But now we got pole and we have to finish the job tomorrow"Leclerc declared.

The Monegasque, who has two victories (Bahrain and Australia) in four races this year, set the best time with a mark of one minute and 28.796 seconds.

Verstappen had the fastest time in the final seconds of the session, but ended up making a small mistake on the last lap.

"Overall I’m pretty happy with qualifying as I only did four or five laps yesterday. But we have to start making these weekends less difficult"Verstappen declared.

The Dutchman was overtaken at the last moment by Leclerc and Sainz, who recovered from his crash on Friday that led him to withdraw from the second round of free practice.

"Considering where it came from yesterday, I take it (second place). Tomorrow is going to be an interesting day, I think we can do a good job"said Sainz.

The 27-year-old Spaniard will start from the front row of a race for the second time, in his bid to achieve his first victory in Formula 1.

Ferrari thus received an injection of optimism for Sunday’s race after its disappointing performance at the last Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at the end of April, where Sainz retired and Leclerc dropped to sixth place after going off the track ten laps end.

High temperature in Miami
Behind the first four will be the Finn Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo), the British Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and the Frenchman Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri).

The top ten positions on the grid will be completed by Briton Lando Norris (McLaren), Japanese Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) and Canadian Lance Stroll (Aston Martin).

Frenchman Esteban Ocon (Alpine), who crashed in the last practice session of the day, did not participate in qualifying as his car’s chassis could not be repaired in time.

The pilot, who escaped uninjured from the accident, is "physically well and will participate in the race" Sunday, his team said.

The qualifying session started in the middle of a very hot circuit, with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees in the grandstand and 50 degrees on the track, in addition to 80% humidity.

The Miami Grand Prix, one of the two races of the year in the United States, is held on a circuit built in the parking lots of Hard Rock Stadium, venue of the Tennis Masters 1000 and home of the Miami Dolphins of the NFL.

Some 82,000 spectators are expected to pack the circuit’s stands, where personalities such as former US first lady Michelle Obama, who visited the garage of the Mercedes team, and actors such as Michael Douglas have already attended.

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