At the end of an eventful qualifying session, littered with red flags, Max Verstappen succeeded to Nelson Piquet, claiming the pole position of the Dutch Grand Prix. The Dutchman will start the Grand Prix in front of Hamilton and Bottas.
The Dutch Grand Prix qualifying was addressed with a lot of ambitions by all drivers. On a new track, freshly renewed to host a Formula One Grand Prix, and after three difficult practice sessions that were all interrupted by a red flag procedure, the full grid had a lot to play for and quick adaptation skills were definitely required to nail the qualifying session.
Fortunately for him, after his FP3 stunt that caused major damages to his single-seater, Carlos Sainz could resume his weekend thanks to the amazing work of his mechanics. The Spaniard was ready to tread the Dutch asphalt on a repaired and fully working car.
On the other side of the paddock, Robert Kubica also found himself in a tricky situation after he was deprived of precious practice time earlier in the day. The Polish was still trying to apprehend the track but already had to give everything for the qualifying session in an attempt to properly substitute for an ill Kimi Raikkonen.
Kubica was very logically one of the first drivers to rush on the track and get a first taste of the conditions. Setting a time as early as possible was a common strategy in Q1, considering the unforgiving aspect of the track and the high probability of seeing a yellow or a red flag being waved.
Verstappen and both his Mercedes rivals had a strong start in Q1, easily putting their names on top of the leaderboard and ensuring a move to Q2. Pierre Gasly impressed, setting the fourth-best time early in the session, topping Charles Leclerc and an unchained George Russell by a tenth. On the other side of the leaderboard, both Aston Martin drivers were visibly struggling as a spot in Q2 was anything but promised to them.
Late in the session, Daniel Ricciardo was moved back in the danger zone and had to give everything in a last attempt to claim what is supposed to be an easy Q2 spot for a McLaren driver. As most drivers also felt at risk due to the track quickly improving, most of the grid decided to send a last attempt.
Both the Ferrari drivers topped the ranking at the end of a superb last Q1 stint, as Perez was surprisingly trapped in P16 after he was not able to take the checkered flag for his last try. Vettel, on his side, was obstructed by the Haas drivers during his last lap and had to abort it, making him qualify in P17.
After most of the drivers had set a time in Q2, Leclerc once again slammed his fist on the table, setting the second-best time of the session, 3 tenths ahead of both Mercedes and more than 4 tenths ahead of teammate Sainz. The Monegasque was quickly joined by Gasly who just completed a superb lap and seized the provisional third place, one tenth behind Leclerc.
At the rear of the ranking, Russell was once again showing great abilities and seemed capable of qualifying in Q3 behind the wheel of his FW43B. However, after flirting too much with the limit, the British driver lost it during his second timed attempt and spun in the gravel trap. After touching the safety barrier and taking out the red flag, the 23-year-old inexplicably took the track again and safely drove his car back to the pitlane before retiring.
The session resumed with 4 minutes remaining. As Latifi launched a timed attempt, the Canadian was also caught by surprise and spun in the gravel trap before finishing his session in the barrier.
The Williams driver was not as lucky as his teammate and had to exit his wrecked single-seater under a red flag procedure. The FIA decided not to resume the session, a costly decision for Lando Norris that was therefore stuck in P13 and eliminated.
In Q3, Verstappen did not need much time to set a superb time. The Dutchman broke the 1:09.000 barrier on his first attempt and sent a strong message to Mercedes. The silver arrows simply seemed unable to match Verstappen’s time and found themselves more than 3 tenths adrift.
Further back, the battle was roaring between Gasly and the Ferraris. The Frenchman topped the Scuderia on his first attempt but the gaps were extremely close between the three men and everything still seemed possible.
At the rear of the pack, Alpine, Ricciardo, and Giovinazzi were also fighting each other, displaying very similar performances.
The last attempt just brought minor modifications to the standings although Lewis Hamilton closed the gap to Verstappen. The doors of glory were opened to the Dutchman as the home hero was showered with applause from his home crowd. Verstappen seized the pole position in front of the two silver arrows that will also have to pay attention to a magnificent Pierre Gasly who seized an amazing P4.