An exciting day of on-track action finished with Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen setting the fastest time of the day at the Miami International Autodrome to secure pole position for tomorrow’s Sprint. The reigning world champion crossed the finish line to record a 1:27.641 lap — 0.108 seconds faster than the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc. The second Red Bull of Sergio Perez was third, ahead of an impressive Daniel Ricciardo who set the fourth quickest time in his RB.

It was a dramatic end to an eventful Sprint Qualifying for the FORMULA 1 CRYPTO.COM MIAMI GRAND PRIX as the top ten drivers left it late to set a time with just a single run of the 3.36-mile track. After showing impressive pace earlier in the day, the McLaren drivers of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris finished sixth and ninth respectively — split by the two Aston Martins. But the surprise of Sprint Qualifying came in SQ2 when both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were eliminated from the top ten shootout — by the tiniest of margins. Hamilton reported on team radio that he’d hit the wall on the exit of Turn 16, but continued unharmed. He was one of a number of drivers to lightly tap the barriers on the exit of the left-hander just prior to the back straight.

The Mercedes duo will start Saturday’s 19-lap Sprint in 11th and 12th places tomorrow one place behind Nico Hulkenberg, who enjoyed a strong run in his Haas to claim tenth. The three periods of Sprint Qualifying ran trouble-free, although Alex Albon’s SQ1 lap was deleted after he’d cut across the Turn 14/15 chicane which placed him at the very tail of the field, one place behind his Williams team-mate Logan Sargeant.

Earlier in the morning, Verstappen also set the pace in the opening one-hour practice session, finishing ahead of Piastri and the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz. Right at the beginning of green flag running, Leclerc made a mistake, spinning on the exit of Turn 16, and with his Ferrari blocking the track the red flag was waved to move his stricken car. It meant the Monaco driver didn’t get a chance to set a competitive time and finished the morning session at the bottom of the timesheets.

Prior to FP1, the on-track action began in the morning with an opening 40-minute practice session for the all-female F1 ACADEMY series. Championship leader Abbi Pulling set the early pace in her Alpine-liveried car, but at the end of the session was eclipsed at the top of the timesheets by Mercedes’ Doriane Pin. In a closely-contested field, the French racer headed Pulling by just 0.070 seconds with less than a second covering the top ten.

Later in the afternoon, the second practice for F1 ACADEMY finished with Pulling in top spot, two tenths faster than her championship rival Pin. The Mercedes-backed racer was on course to beat Pulling’s 1:59.237s lap, but on her final run made a slight mistake at Turn 15 and had to settle for second place. Nerea Marti was third ahead of America’s Chloe Chambers in her Haas-liveried car.

It was a busy day in Miami Gardens with various activations taking place around the Campus as the atmosphere began to build ahead of this weekend’s race. Amongst the stars keeping the fans entertained were FORMULA 1 CRYPTO.COM MIAMI GRAND PRIX Ambassador Guenther Steiner who appeared in a live version of the F1 Explains podcast, recorded in front of a large group of fans on the 300 level of Hard Rock Stadium. On the other side of the Campus, DJ Steve Aoki entertained the spectators with his unique blend of music in the party-central Hard Rock Beach Club. Ed Sheeran was also in attendance at today’s race ahead of his musical set tomorrow afternoon.

Speaking in the official FIA Formula 1 Teams’ Press Conference earlier this afternoon, McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown praised the organizers of the FORMULA 1 CRYPTO.COM MIAMI GRAND PRIX for helping build the fanbase of F1 fans in the United States, he said: “Tom Garfinkel and Tyler Epp are doing an awesome job and if you look at the improvements they’ve made, they were substantial. Miami is an awesome market that people like to travel to and I don’t see [the organizers] sitting still. They’re constantly developing and I think this is an awesome event that is going to go from strength to strength.”

The action continues at the Miami International Autodrome tomorrow, starting with the 19-lap Sprint race at 12 noon, followed by Qualifying for the Grand Prix at 4pm. There will also be the first of two races of the F1 ACADEMY series, saloon car action from the Porsche Carrera Cup North America and a live car auction presented by Bonhams Cars.