Verstappen edges Norris to claim home pole at Zandvoort

Verstappen edges Norris to claim home pole at Zandvoort

Max Verstappen secured pole position for tomorrow’s Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort by finishing 0.5 seconds ahead of Lando Norris driving McLaren despite the changing weather conditions.

Mercedes’ George Russell and Williams’ Alex Albon will start on the second row of the grid in a practice that kicked off on a wet track but quickly dried, with Q3 run on slicks but still experiencing two red flags.

One was initiated by Logan Sargeant following his Williams crash, and the other was triggered by Charles Leclerc in his Ferrari. Given the amount of traffic, Lewis Hamilton was unable to improve with his important last Q2 lap, and will be starting in P13.

Many drivers were caught off guard during the day’s final practice due to the rain and wind, including but not limited to Kevin Magnussen, Zhou Guanyu, and rookie Liam Lawson, who all caused brief red flag stoppages.

The order was essentially a lottery depending on the track conditions at the time of their fastest runs after Red Bull’s Max Verstappen had been undoubtedly the fastest of all, despite the occasional slip across the gravel on his own.

While Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz appeared to be having trouble, George Russell, Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, and Alex Albon all managed to finish in the top 10.

However, this didn’t really predict how the drivers were going to perform in qualifying. As the cars lined up for Q1, the weather was dryer and brighter with hints of blue skies for the orange-clad spectators in the grandstands to enjoy.

Since the end of final practice, there have been many more downpours that have caused the F2 sprint race to be red flagged. Even yet, when the lights at the end of pit lane turned green, more accidents were certain to occur because the track was still wet—in some sections of the track.

The Williams duo, Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant, were the first to hit the track. They and the drivers who came after them were all running on intermediate tyres appropriate for the wet track, but it was clear that teams were eager to switch to slick compounds if it didn’t rain any more because the tarmac was already steaming as the track dried.

Albon recorded the first record of 1:31.315 seconds, but he had a brief run off the track. On the other hand, Sargeant got to the finish line, over a second and a half sooner than his teammate, as the track conditions had already changed.

Eventually, the record time was lowered to 1:26.000s by the time Valtteri Bottas finished his lap in the Alfa Romeo. Verstappen was among many who found himself flying through the damp gravel, meaning it wasn’t easy for everyone.

Due to this brief absences from the top performers, McLaren was able to seize the initiative. Lando Norris set the fastest time, clocking in at 1:23.260 seconds, nearly half a second faster than teammate Oscar Piastri.

Eventually Sergio Perez separated the papaya pair, as the two Ferraris took the lead, with Verstappen eventually doing a decent push lap to finish fastest. However, he was quickly displaced by a fresh lap from Norris, and then Piastri went even faster.

The initial bar set by Verstappen had been surpassed by Albon as well. No one was letting up, worried that more showers would appear at any moment. Perez separated the two McLarens for a second time as the cycle restarted.

George Russell subsequently edged off Piastri by seven thousandths of a second before Norris retook the lead with a timing of 1:21.434s, six tenths faster than the Mercedes. Piastri momentarily regained the lead but Verstappen edged him out with a timing of 1:21.230s, seemingly out of nowhere.

With four seconds left, Nico Hulkenberg, Liam Lawson, Valtteri Bottas, Kevin Magnussen, and Logan Sargeant were in danger of being eliminated.

There were also close calls as a result of drivers making short pit stops for new inters, like as Sainz sliding across the track as he came back out and shoving Piastri to the track’s edge. In another situation, Lewis Hamilton claimed that Alonso had blocked him, but the stewards were uninterested in looking into the matter further.

Time was running out, not just on the clocks but in the clouds above as well, and when the rain started to pick up again, spectators in the grandstands scrambled for their umbrellas and raincoats.

Sainz had been in danger of not making the cut, but he ended up moving up to fifth place. Albon also discovered an advantage that allowed him to pass Verstappen, Piastri, and Norris as the quickest. And Norris, along with Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly, Yuki Tsunoda, and Fernando Alonso, had now made it through without incident.

Hulkenberg and Hamilton were equally secure despite the water spray appearing to be greater than it was at the beginning of the round. A last-ditch attempt from Leclerc left the Ferrari 14th ahead of Sargeant, who had produced a crucial late recovery to clinch his ticket to the second round.

Perez had been pushed all the way down to P13, placing him just ahead of Leclerc. Zhou Guanyu gave his final run all he had but unfortunately made a stunning slide out of the last curve as a result, but the Alfa Romeo driver and his teammate Bottas both failed to make the cut.

Magnussen and Esteban Ocon from Alpine both missed out on the action in FP3, which Ocon may have lamented. It was quite straightforward why AlphaTauri reserve Lawson, who was filling in for the injured Daniel Ricciardo in the AT04, was the slowest of all the pilots on his first day in the air.

The teams gathered for the second round of qualifying while the light rain persisted. The drivers continued to agree that intermediates were the best choice, although the weather was improving, and as the sun rose over the last curve, a peculiar dry line could be spotted.

Verstappen was fast to seize the lead on 1:20.690s despite the teams’ concerns over a big rain cloud that was still hanging around close to the circuit. That put Sargeant, Leclerc, Stroll, and Russell a full second back, but it was still early on.

Piastri swiftly maintained his claim on second, and Albon went even faster to close the gap on Verstappen to a few tenths. With a time of 1:20.629s, Norris successfully dethroned Verstappen from first place as he was still looking swift.

Verstappen immediately reacted by pushing 0.347 seconds faster. Hamilton moved into third place, ahead of Albon, and Russell was close behind in fifth place. Leclerc temporarily found respite by stealing fifth from Russell but Piastri’s stronger performance moved the Australian into fourth.

Sargeant was on the verge of being eliminated in P10 as a result of all the battles for position, and Perez, Tsunoda, Hulkenberg, Gasly, and Sainz all had to act quickly to advance to the next round.

The track was still drying up, but not quickly enough for anyone to test the slicks for their last Q2 runs. Verstappen persevered in the increasingly favorable conditions to produce a fresh time of 1:19.652s, about a second faster than the most recent effort of Perez, who had moved up to P2 ahead of Norris, Hamilton, and Piastri.  

Albon’s subsequent lap was enough to reclaim Williams’ lead over Verstappen by a quarter of a second, while Tsunoda moved up to third between the Red Bulls.

Russell was able to overtake Verstappen in a similar manner, but he could not match Albon’s time. Following Piastri’s fastest time of 1:19.392 seconds, which was seven thousandths of a second faster than Albon’s, Verstappen’s unavoidable retort was half a second faster than anybody else.

Leclerc finished fifth behind Alonso, ahead of Russell, and Norris’ final run was barely fast enough for seventh place, behind Perez, Sainz, and Sargeant, whose outstanding performance advanced the American to the top 10 for the first time.

All this meant that Stroll, along with Gasly, Tsunoda, and Hulkenberg, had narrowly missed the cut. But the biggest surprise was Hamilton dropping out and finishing 13th after having trouble with traffic throughout his crucial ultimate flying lap effort.

During the interlude before the beginning of Q3, the weather changed, and the rising sun made the Zandvoort dunes appear truly beach-vacation ready. By the minute, a dry line was becoming more and more obvious, and race control enabled DRS for the final 12 seconds, making it obvious that slicks were definitely up for use.

Indeed, Verstappen, Perez, Leclerc, and Russell were among the first to leave the soft compound, while Albon, Sargeant, and Piastri prioritized safety by taking a test lap on a set of used inters.

It was determined that using slicks was the best option, and everyone returned to the pits for a change, with the exception of Verstappen, who stayed out for an extra lap due to another argument he had with his race engineer about strategy.

Albon had just recorded a lap time of 1:15.743 seconds, one of only four laps completed, when the practice was stopped due to an unfortunate incident involving Sargeant, another member of his Williams squad, who drifted onto the wet kerb at turn 2 and lost control of the car, sending him into the barriers.

At a track where the FW45 was obviously well-suited, it was a disappointing way for the rookie to cap off what had proved up to this point to be his strongest qualifying effort of the season. He was able to give the crowd a thumbs-up as he approached the ambulance, indicating that there had been no serious injuries, if anything only some bruises.

Over eight minutes had passed since the clock had stopped, and given to the lengthy stoppage for barrier repairs, the circuit had extra time to dry up before the nine cars still in contention could resume racing. First to leave were Sainz, Albon, and Alonso.

The times improved dramatically right away compared to preceding stages, with Norris taking first place with a time of 1:12.049s, two tenths faster than teammate Piastri, and Verstappen only three spots ahead of Russell.

Leclerc qualified fifth fastest but crashed into the barrier at turn 9. This time the impediment was caused by dust on the track rather than rain, which caused him to understeer off onto the wet, muddy grass and crash into the tyre barrier.

Once more, the timer was halted as the marshals cleaned up the debris. With only four minutes left, everyone who was still standing would have one final opportunity to improve on their times in a one-lap showdown.

Leading the push, Perez, Albon, and Alonso gave themselves the benefit of two warm-up laps before mounting assault on the track for improved times.

Verstappen did not use any of these factors to dominate the event with a time of 1:10.567 seconds, half a second faster than Norris’ best attempt, which was nevertheless good enough to maintain the McLaren driver on the front row of the grid ahead of Russell, Albon, and Alonso. Sainz finished sixth, ahead of Perez and Piastri.


1Max VerstappenNEDOracle Red Bull Racing1m20.965s1m18.856s1m10.567s
2Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team1m21.276s1m19.769s1m11.104s
3George RussellGBRMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team1m21.345s1m19.620s1m11.294s
4Alex AlbonTHAWilliams Racing1m20.939s1m19.399s1m11.419s
5Fernando AlonsoESPAston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team1m21.840s1m19.429s1m11.506s
6Carlos SainzESPScuderia Ferrari1m21.321s1m19.929s1m11.754s
7Sergio PerezMEXOracle Bull Racing1m21.972s1m19.856s1m11.880s
8Oscar PiastriAUSMcLaren F1 Team1m21.231s1m19.392s1m11.938s
9Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari1m22.019s1m19.600s1m12.655s
10Logan SargeantUSAWilliams Racing1m22.036s1m20.067s1m16.748s
11Lance StrollCANAston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team1m21.570s1m20.121s 
12Pierre GaslyFRABWT Alpine F1 Team1m21.735s1m20.128s 
13Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team1m21.919s1m20.151s 
14Yuki TsunodaJPNScuderia AlphaTauri 1m21.781s1m20.230s 
15Nico HulkenbergGERMoneyGram Haas F1 Team1m21.891s1m20.250s 
16Zhou GuanyuCHNAlfa Romeo F1 Team Stake1m22.067s  
17Esteban OconFRABWT Alpine F1 Team1m22.110s  
18Kevin MagnussenDENMoneyGram Haas F1 Team1m22.192s  
19Valtteri BottasFINAlfa Romeo F1 Team Stake1m22.260s  
20Liam LawsonNZLScuderia AlphaTauri1m23.420s

Leave a Reply