Fernando Alonso was able to capitalise on Max Verstappen’s and Charles Leclerc’s misfortune in qualifying for the Miami Grand Prix, to secure his second front row start of the season. For Lance Stroll, the Canadian endured a qualifying session to forget as he failed to make it past Qualifying One for the first time in the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.
Verstappen’s mishap heading into turn eight caused the Dutchman to abandon his first run of Qualifying Three, opening a path in which Alonso was able to place down a strong lap time which placed him behind only Sergio Pérez.
Alonso, equipped with a new set of soft tyres, was improving on his original time but the untimely red flag, as a result of Leclerc’s incident, would deny the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team driver any chance of claiming his first pole since the 2012 German Grand Prix.
“It was a very good qualifying session. Things have been a bit up and down for the last few events – Baku was very difficult – but, over a regular weekend format, we’ve been able to experiment with a few different options on the car. We put it all together for qualifying – the car felt good. And there was still a lot more pace in the car because my Q3 lap was done on used Softs. On my second run, on fresh rubber, I was already a few tenths up – but then the yellow flags came out.“
The last time Alonso lined up on the front row of the grid at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, he was joined by Pérez, who once again will be joining the Spaniard on the front row for Sunday’s race.
Alonso was able to oust Pérez from the lead heading into turn one on that occasion and will be hoping to do the same once again, but the Spaniard has made the frank admission that he believes a podium place will still be difficult to achieve despite starting on the front row.
“The result gives us a lot of confidence for tomorrow – Sunday is usually our day; we take care of the tyres and have good race pace. Plus, starting further up the grid always makes things a little easier. Getting on the podium will still be difficult but we’ll just do our race – it’s going to be tough but we’ll enjoy it.”
Lance Stroll: “Qualifying didn’t go my way today”
While Alonso is set for a start on the front row for Sunday’s Grand Prix, Stroll will be starting all the way back in eighteenth place after a disappointing outing for the Canadian saw him fail to make Q3 for the first time this season.
Explaining why he was unable to get the best out of the AMR23 during qualifying, Stroll explained that he and the team overestimated the capability of their worn tyres before heading out for their final run.
“Qualifying didn’t go my way today. We made the call to try and get through Q1 running just one set of Softs. With the benefit of hindsight, that wasn’t the right call: other teams fitted a second set and saw big improvements. But these things happen – and Fernando got into Q2 using just the one set, so it was possible.”
Looking to put aside a poor qualifying outing, Stroll opted to look at the positives when assessing how he could fare in Sunday’s race. The AMR23’s race pace has been a strong point all season long for the Silverstone-based team and Stroll will be looking to extract that performance on Sunday as he attempts to make his way through the field and into the points-paying positions.
“I’m just focusing on the positives: our car feels good and our race pace is usually very competitive. Tomorrow is when the points are scored – and there’s a long race ahead.”