Speaking to SkyDeutschland, Marko said: “To put it sarcastically: ‘You can’t drive out behind Leclerc.’”
“It was extremely unfortunate for Max. He went a little far in the first run and then we should have come out of the pits earlier. We would have had the speed.
“At least the first two rows would have been safe. But it’s a learning phase. We wanted to concentrate completely on the last run and get the best out of it. The later you go out, the better the track will be. But in this case it wasn’t that right decision.”
Perez, who’d been struggling up until qualifying, took advantage of Verstappen’s misfortune to secure the third pole position of his career and the best place to start from as he targets winning back-to-back Formula 1 races for the first time in his career.
A third victory in fives races in 2023 for the Mexican would also yield him the Championship lead and Marko has been impressed with Perez’s improvement since he joined Red Bull in 2021.
“Pole position for Checo, that’s unbelievable,” he stated. “Here in Miami, it’s more or less a second home race for him.
“He implemented it all well. He has learned in all phases. He’s ahead in terms of tyres, [and] can concentrate more.
“In recent years he’s always been half a second to a second behind Max started. You can’t get that out in the course of one or two practice sessions but he’s starting to get closer to Max now and that’s why he’s always in the lead overall.”
Aside from Perez, Fernando Alonso and Kevin Magnussen also profited from the early end to qualifying to wound up second and fourth respectively.
But unlike in Monaco two years ago, Leclerc failed to effectively confirm his own pole position, having made an error on his final run to only classify seventh.
The Ferrari driver, however, will still start two places ahead of Verstappen – but the superior pace of the Red Bull in race conditions has seen Alonso predict he will rapidly make his way through to the front of the field.
Asked by Sky Sports F1 when he expects to see the reigning World Champion in his mirrors, the Spaniard said: “Erm… Lap 25!”
Verstappen previously finished second after lining up down the order in 15th for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix following a driveshaft problem in qualifying.