Set-up tweak key to Perez Miami GP pole

Sergio Perez claimed pole position for the Miami Grand Prix

Sergio Perez claimed pole position for the Miami Grand Prix

A set-up change before Qualifying for the Miami Grand Prix helped Sergio Perez claim the third pole position of his Formula 1 career.

The change was made after reviewing team-mate Max Verstappen’s data, revealing “not small differences” between the Red Bull pair.

“I was mainly missing confidence,” Perez said.

“When I was looking at the data and seeing what Max was able to do, I could simply not do that.

“I was struggling a lot, and it was not small differences; it was quite big.”

While that change boosted Perez’s confidence in the car, getting to grips with the unique Miami International Autodrome surface was also important.

Repaved since last year’s race following criticisms from the drivers, this weekend’s race is the first on the new tarmac.

It experienced significant evolution from session to session, presenting an ever-moving target to drivers.

“Just learning the asphalt, I think in qualifying, and playing with the balance and finding that rhythm was much more important than I really thought,” Perez explained.

“I really got a good understanding in qualifying, finally, so now looking forward naturally for tomorrow – I’m sure that we will be able to translate that into race pace.”

Miami rivals

Perez is joined on the front row by Fernando Alonso, while Carlos Sainz will start from the second row for Ferrari alongside Haas’ Kevin Magnussen.

With Verstappen set to line up ninth after not setting a time, the Mexican expects Alonso and Sainz to pose his greatest threat – at least initially.

“I’m mainly focused on getting a good start and be able to maximise our first stint,” the polesitter explained.

“I think it will be really helpful for all of us to be able to do that.”

Perez was victorious last time out in Azerbaijan, and before that took victory in Saudi Arabia to mark 2023 as the most successful start to a season in his F1 career.

He sits six points back from Verstappen at the top of the drivers’ championship after four events in a season that has already seen Red Bull claim three one-two results.

The Miami Grand Prix begins at 15:30 local time on Sunday (05:30 AEST Monday).

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