F1 Dutch GP: Verstappen Claims Pole On Home Turf
The Dutchman will start in Pole Position as he pipped out Charles Leclerc at Zandvoort.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen narrowly defeated Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to Pole Position ahead of the Dutchman’s home race at Zandvoort.
The Red Bull driver comes into the weekend with a 93 point lead over the competition but particularly struggled to find his feet on Friday with gearbox woes hampering his initial Practice session.
Building up speed and confidence throughout the qualifying session, Verstappen lay second to Leclerc after the first Q3 runs with half a tenth between the two drivers. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz Jr weren’t much further behind with three tenths separating the top four.
While on their final runs as the clock ticked down, Leclerc improved on his final attempt but importantly lost time during the middle sector which allowed Verstappen to have a much cleaner shot at Pole Position.
Narrowly, the time was in Verstappen’s favour by only 0.021s to claim a 17th career Pole Position. However, there could have been an upset to Verstappen’s party as Hamilton and team-mate George Russell were denied of finishing their laps.
As Sainz improved to third, Hamilton and Russell were on blistering laps but both Brits had to slow as Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez spun coming round the final corner. The committed Mexican lost control of his Red Bull and was lucky not to hit the barrier but his incident did bring out the yellow flags.
With Russell’s poor initial lap in the session, he remained sixth while Hamilton will start fourth with Perez in between the Mercedes duo.
McLaren’s Lando Norris qualified in seventh while three drivers made a surprise Q3 appearance. Haas’s Mick Schumacher, AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll all progressed from Q2 into the final session.
Schumacher got the better of Tsunoda for eighth however a technical issue prevented Stroll from leaving the garage and setting a competitive lap time.
The second qualifying session was briefly red-flagged for a flare that had been thrown on track by fans but the stoppage was also useful for marshals to chase away some eager, adrenaline-seeking pigeons.
Pierre Gasly missed out on a spot in the top ten by less than a tenth of a second but was ahead of the Alpine pair of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso – the latter particularly upset about traffic on his final flying lap.
Alexander Albon placed his Williams in Q2 after another fantastic lap but was unable to progress further. Meanwhile, Alfa Romeo’s Valterri Bottas was unable to make it out of Q1 for a second race in a row.
McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, who’ll leave the team come the end of the season, couldn’t match Norris’s pace and ended up half a second behind come the end of Q1. The Australian will start the race in 17th, one place ahead of Haas’s Kevin Magnussen.
Four Time World Champion Sebastian Vettel was on course to progress through to Q2, having set the best sector one time of all, but the Aston Martin driver took a trip across the gravel after the car snapped on the German.