Sergio Perez says his pole position at the Miami Grand Prix feels all the sweeter because he had been struggling right up until Q3.

Max Verstappen’s error on the first runs in Q3 opened the door for Perez — who had largely been up to four tenths of a second off his Red Bull teammate throughout practice — and the Mexican put in a strong first effort to secure provisional pole. That was confirmed as his starting position when Charles Leclerc crashed and brought out the red flag, and Perez was proud of his ability to find a lap when he needed it the most.

“I’m very pleased because it’s been a very difficult weekend for me up to qualifying,” Perez said. “I think this tarmac is just very different to anything else. And I was just trying to figure out how to get the maximum out of the car, out of the balance, because even on my final lap, I was still finding things out that were working better. We haven’t had a straightforward weekend so it tastes a lot better once you deliver.

“I think it’s been my worst weekend up to qualifying, really, I just couldn’t figure out how to pull those tenths that I was missing all the time to Max and to the Ferraris. I mean, I was just resetting everything; we did a small change into qualifying and everything became more alive. With this tarmac we were just playing a bit with the tools and we put the lap in when it mattered.”

The result gives Perez a big chance of taking the championship lead, as he’s currently six points behind Verstappen and his teammate starts ninth, but he says he’s wary of the threat from Fernando Alonso alongside him on the front row.

“I think the race, it’s a lot easier. Already yesterday I had a very good pace, although I was struggling for balance. Straight away, we put fuel in the car and things come more naturally to me. The problem was getting the tires up to temperature and taking that little tenth of peak grip, I was struggling with that massively.

“At the moment these two guys (Alonso and Carlos Sainz) obviously (pose a risk). I’m mainly focusing now on getting a good start and being able to manage our first stint. I think it will be really helpful for all of us to be able to do that. You know, it’s a very long race and still a lot can happen tomorrow.”

Presented by

CLICK HERE to get a 7-day free trial to F1 TV Pro and stream the Miami GP live, your way.

Offer available for a limited time and to new F1 TV Pro subscriptions in select regions.