Red Bull will be hoping DRS and a strategic advantage could help them overhaul Ferrari at Sunday’s inaugural Miami Grand Prix, with drivers expecting the race to be tough on a surface that has been described as a “joke”.
World championship leader Charles Leclerc took pole ahead of Carlos Sainz as qualifying ended with a Ferrari one-two.
Max Verstappen finished third ahead of Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who didn’t mince words when asked on the track after qualifying.
Echoing a sentiment shared by seemingly every driver in the paddock, Perez was adamant about the lack of grip off the racing line.
“I think the most important thing is that the surface is a joke,” Perez told Autosport when asked if there will be any overtaking during the race.
“Tomorrow the race is going to be difficult. And the drivers are going to make mistakes because we have been put in this situation.”
With the race potentially compromised, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner pointed to the deployment of DRS on the straights where Red Bull has a pace advantage over Ferrari as one area where the race could be decided in their favor. .
Praising the performance of Verstappen, whose qualifying session was affected by a lack of track time in Friday practice due to gearbox and hydraulic issues, Horner said: “Max was on his toes. back, he’s behind the laps of the other guys and still learning on the track so it’s a good recovery from him.
“We know both our cars have good straight line speed and the DRS could be quite strong here tomorrow, and with all the support runs the braking zones should open up a bit, so there are a few places where we should be able to overtake.
“Strategy and pit stops will be crucial as no one has really been able to do long races, it should be a fascinating competition tomorrow.”
Leclerc topped the timesheets with a lap of one minute and 28.796 seconds, taking advantage of the improvements that appear to have strengthened the hand of the team that emerged as the favorites to win both championships.
“It’s definitely better,” Leclerc said of his F1-75’s performance. “Yes, I mean both cars are very competitive, so Carlos and I are very competitive.
“So it’s great for the team and yes, we will push to try and finish in the same positions tomorrow.
“It’s a very solid package we have, it’s been working in more or less all conditions since the start of the season, so that’s a good sign for the future.
“As I’ve said many times, the improvements this year will be very, very significant. We’ve had a few here that have gone in the right direction and hopefully we’ll have a few more throughout. of the season to stay on top.”
Verstappen will be there to make sure Ferrari doesn’t stay on top in Florida and joked he might need to call his father for advice, with former F1 driver Jos having recently returned to motorsport as a rally driver.
He said: “It’s quite slippery outside the racing line, almost feels like gravel, maybe I need to call my dad and ask for some rally advice.”