Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen scored a double success at the Miami International Autodrome today, winning the Sprint and securing Pole Position for tomorrow’s FORMULA 1 CRYPTO.COM MIAMI GRAND PRIX. It was a dominant performance from the reigning World Champion who fended off the threat from Charles Leclerc — winning the 19-lap Sprint by over three seconds and setting a pole time with a 0.141 second advantage over the Ferrari driver.

Verstappen became the third different pole-sitter of the FORMULA 1 CRYPTO.COM MIAMI GRAND PRIX, but today’s achievement maintains his 100 percent record of starting from P1 at every Grand Prix so far this season. After qualifying the Dutch racer admitted he was much happier with his car’s balance in the afternoon session. “We definitely improved the car a bit as it was difficult to find consistency with the car and tyre,” said Verstappen. “It’s always about finding the best balance — but we’re on pole and that’s the most important thing.”

Held in sunny conditions, qualifying got underway at 4pm local time and as the clock ticked down, it looked as if Fort Lauderdale native Logan Sargeant was going to progress to Q2 but he unfortunately missed the cut by 0.03 seconds. After scoring an excellent fourth place in the Sprint earlier in the day, Daniel Ricciardo surprisingly didn’t advance to Q2. Meanwhile, in contrast to yesterday afternoon, the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell progressed to the top-ten shoot out.

At the start of Q3, the Mercedes drivers were the first to reach the top of the timesheets before Verstappen lapped the 3.36-mile track in 1:27.241s. Leclerc went second with a 1:27.382s and neither time was beaten on each driver’s second run of the session. Sainz slotted his Ferrari into third, ahead of Perez, the McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri and the two Mercedes drivers.

Qualifying was the culmination of an exciting day of on-track action that started with an entertaining Sprint race. Starting from pole, Verstappen was challenged for the lead at Turn 1 by Leclerc but held on to beat the Ferrari man by over three seconds after 19 laps. After losing out to Ricciardo on the opening lap, Perez re-passed the Australian on lap five to secure third place, while the RB man held off Sainz to take an impressive fourth.

Behind the front runners, the Sprint provided plenty of drama and entertainment with a number of battles raging throughout the field. At the first corner, Alonso was squeezed by Hamilton on the inside and his Aston Martin team-mate Stroll on his outside and all three made contact. As a result of their coming-together, Stroll was pushed wide into the path of Norris causing the McLaren to spin around. Unable to restart, the Safety Car was briefly deployed to remove the British driver’s car, while the damage to Stroll’s wheel meant he was forced to retire.

One of the most exciting battles on-track was the duel between Hamilton and the Haas of Kevin Magnussen for the final points position. For lap after lap Magnussen defended his eighth place with great resilience, but managed to pick up a series of 10 second penalties for running off track. Five laps from the end of the Sprint, the pair of them both ran wide at Turn 11 which allowed the RB of Yuki Tsunoda to grab eighth. Hamilton was able to overtake the Japanese driver on the final lap, but Hamilton also picked-up a drive/through penalty (converted to a 20s time penalty) for speeding in the pit lane and fell from eighth to 16th in the final classification.

Those enjoying a full day of competitive track action included stars from the sporting world. Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler was on the grid supporting McLaren and was asked about the atmosphere around the Campus today. “I love the fans that come out and support this race, there is so much great energy and I love the competition,” said Butler. “Miami loves any sport and these fans love the competition here in Miami — in a city I adore. There are so many great drivers who are competitors, I feel like I fit right in.” After qualifying, Sainz also praised the spectators who had flocked to the Miami Gardens venue, saying: “It’s amazing and it’s like this in Miami every year. The fans have good energy, give us good vibes and we enjoy coming here a lot.”

Between both F1 sessions the Miami International Autodrome also played host to the second round of the F1 ACADEMY series with Abbi Pulling taking a dominant lights-to-flag victory in her Alpine-liveried car. Starting from pole the British driver took the lead at Turn 1 and stayed ahead of her points rival Doriane Pin all the way to the checkered flag. But the interest from the local crowd was focused on the strong performance of Haas’ Chloe Chambers. The American racer was engaged in a thrilling three-way battle for third and she managed to hold on to claim a popular podium finish. To round off the day’s events was a special Bonhams Car auction, held on the track in front of the rostrum. The sporting action continues tomorrow with the third edition of the FORMULA 1 CRYPTO.COM MIAMI GRAND PRIX and race two of the all-female F1 ACADEMY series.