Miami Grand Prix 2024: Max Verstappen beats Charles Leclerc to pole

Leclerc said: “It felt so much on the limit. It was very close until Q3 when we started to push really for the limit and we lost the tyres in sector three.”

Norris, whose car has a major upgrade for this race, had shown strong pace in qualifying for the sprint race on Friday, before a mistake on his run in the final session left him at the bottom end of the top 10.

But he was never in contention at the front in qualifying on Saturday, and even tried the medium tyre in the second session, as Mercedes did in the third.

Norris ended up 0.353secs off the pace, with which McLaren were satisfied on a track where they have never been quick.

“I was quite a bit more confident yesterday in terms of getting lap time out of the car,” he said.

“We made a couple of changes and it’s hard to know if they were in the right direction now.

“Today I felt like I got there and struggled to do a lot more. Some stuff for us to review and think about for next time but on the whole P5 is still not bad.”

For Mercedes, qualifying about seventh and eighth is becoming their new normal, but was at least an improvement on 11th and 12th in qualifying for the sprint.

There was a glimmer of hope for Hamilton and the team when he suddenly went third quickest, behind only Leclerc and Verstappen, at the end of the second session, only for their pace to mysteriously vanish again in the final session.

“The car felt mega in Q2 all of a sudden but then got to Q3 it disappeared again,” Hamilton said. “It was the first time it has really worked this year, in Q2, I would say.”

Asked what the reasons for that were, he said: “We don’t know. We really don’t know. And I couldn’t tell you, honestly.”

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