Perez posted a 1m26.841s between the first flying runs in Q3 as Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen stopped his early run at Turn 5.
Leclerc, meanwhile, hit the wall at the exit of Turn 16 and then had a lock-up in the following corner, which was only good enough for seventh place after an early run.
Both men thus had work to do to move up the order and begin their final runs to thwart Perez’s bid for a second pole position in 2023.
While Leclerc started his lap in raucous fashion, he overcooked it on the exit of Turn 6 and lost the rear end for a spin into the wall. This immediately brought a double-waved yellow to the opening section.
This confirmed Perez’s pole and denied Verstappen, who topped both Q1 and Q2, the chance to bite pole again – much to the Dutchman’s frustration.
Fernando Alonso earned his first front-row start of the season alongside Perez, thanks to his own strong performance after the opening runs – and hailed Aston Martin’s balance as “perfect” after the session.
The Spaniard overtook compatriot Carlos Sainz on Sunday’s stage as the Ferrari driver managed to produce a consistent lap between the opening runs. Kevin Magnussen joined him on the second row and the Dane scored his first try as Haas continued to impress in qualifying.
Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23
Photo: Andy Hone / Motorsport films
Pierre Gasly finished fifth ahead of George Russell, who entered Q3 by the skin of his teeth, while Leclerc was seventh fastest before his crash.
Esteban Ocon ensured two Alpine top-10 finishes, with Verstappen and Bottas failing to set representative times in the final stretch of qualifying.
Lewis Hamilton was the big-ticket elimination from Q2, managing to finish 13th in the session as the Mercedes drivers spent the second half of qualifying in the drop zone.
Russell managed to move into the top 10, but Hamilton couldn’t get the same level of pace from W14 and missed out by two tenths in Q3 – the seven-time champion left the team too late in their quest to progress. The final part of qualification.
Alex Alphonse was edged out by Russ in qualifying, and as the session ended, he held a lead of half a tenth to deny Williams another shot at the Q3 berth.
The Anglo-American starts 11th ahead of Nico Hulkenberg – who was unable to make progress after sitting inside the top 10 for most of the session. Hamilton starts Sunday’s race ahead of Zhou Guanyu, who was unable to join Alfa Romeo team-mate Valtteri Bottas in Q3, and AlphaTauri’s Nyck de Vries.
Track conditions quickly improved in Q1 in the dying stages of the session, especially as the margins were tight among the midfield runners, creating a mad dash to the finish line.
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23
Photo: Andy Hone / Motorsport films
The McLaren and Mercedes duo are locked in the bottom five by a minute and a half, with both teams expected to progress.
Both Mercedes drivers advanced using competitive laps, but Oscar Piastre was unable to get past the 15th fastest time and stamped his card for an early shower in the session.
Lando Norris meanwhile finished 11th, but the progress of the cars around him conspired to push him back into the drop zone, ensuring his exit on stage one.
Yuki Tsunoda finished 17th behind the Briton, while Lance Stroll failed to get his Aston Martin into the bottom five and finished 18th in Sunday’s race. Piastre and Logan Sargent completed the final lineup.
F1 Miami GP Qualifying Results
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