Max Verstappen takes pole position for the third time in Zandvoort, setting the fastest time in a wet-to-dry session which sees a mixed up grid for tomorrow’s race.
Rain from earlier in the day meant all the drivers started on intermediate tyres. Times were tumbling quickly, with multiple drivers making brief cameos in first place, including Sargeant, Leclerc, Norris and Piastri.
Verstappen had struggled early on, with the Dutchman complaining over the radio about having no grip, and had gone wide at turn 1, heading into the gravel. However he was able to improve as his tyres got warmer and quickly found himself back towards the sharp end of the grid.
Verstappen wasn’t the only one to struggle at turn 1, with Leclerc, Hulkenberg and Albon all having made mistakes there as well.
It was a trial by fire for Liam Lawson, who makes his debut this weekend by replacing Daniel Ricciardo, who injured his Metacarpal during practice yesterday. Only having FP3 to try and get up to speed in his Alpha Tauri, he was unable to lift himself off of 20th place, setting a time over a second slower than Valtteri Bottas in 19th.
Rain had began to fall again towards the end of the session, which began to slightly compromise some driver’s laps. Leclerc looked to be in danger of not being able to escape the bottom five as a result, but was able to squeak into 14th, knocking out Zhou Guanyu.
16. Zhou Guanyu – Alfa Romeo +0.031
17. Esteban Ocon – Alpine +0.074
18. Kevin Magnussen – Haas +0.156
19. Valtteri Bottas – Alfa Romeo +0.224
20. Liam Lawson – Alpha Tauri +1.384
As quickly as the rain appeared, it seemed to disappear once more for the start of Q2. The track conditions quickly improved once more, and although a dry line was forming, it wasn’t enough for anybody to gamble on slick tyres.
Late laps from Leclerc and Sainz had lifted them both out of the drop zone, saving either Ferrari driver from a shock Q2 exit. One driver who failed to avoid a shock exit was Lewis Hamilton, who was only able to go 13th fastest.
It was jubilation for Logan Sargeant as he reached Q3 for the first time in his Formula 1 career. His final lap knocked put him tenth fastest which, along side Albon going third fastest, meant that Williams had two cars in Q3 since the 2017 Italian Grand Prix. Sargeant is also the first American to qualify in the top 10 since 1993.
11. Lance Stroll – Aston Martin +0.054
12. Pierre Gasly – Alpine +0.061
13. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes +0.084
14. Yuki Tsunoda – Alpha Tauri +0.163
15. Nico Hulkenberg – Haas +0.183
The final part of qualifying appeared to be a very stop-start affair. The joy that Sargeant would have felt at reaching Q3 would have been quickly snatched away after the American crashed his car at turn 3. He had seemed to dip one of his slick tyres onto a wet part of the track, causing it to spin into the barriers. This caused an extended red flag period.
Once qualifying resumed, Norris took provisional pole position, with teammate Piastri close behind. However, shortly after these times were set, Charles Leclerc’s tricky qualifying session ended prematurely as he ran wide at turn 9, going onto the grass and then into the wall. This brought out a second red flag.
Enough time was on the clock for everybody to get in one more flying lap. Verstappen put on a blistering lap in front of his home fans, going over 5 tenths faster than Norris to take pole position. Most drivers improved, so whilst Piastri’s time was good enough for third when he set it, he eventually slipped to 8th.
The biggest surprise of qualifying was Alex Albon. He had been quick all throughout practice, and stayed towards the front of the grid for the whole of qualifying. He had set a time initially good enough for 3rd, before being overtaken by George Russell, dropping him to 4th. This equals his best ever qualifying result, and is the best qualifying he has had at Williams.
1. Max Verstappen – Red Bull 1:10.567
2. Lando Norris – McLaren +0.537
3. George Russell – Mercedes +0.727
4. Alex Albon – Williams +0.852
5. Fernando Alonso – Aston Martin +0.939
6. Carlos Sainz – Ferrari +1.187
7. Sergio Perez – Red Bull +1.313
8. Oscar Piastri– McLaren +1.371
9. Charles Leclerc – Ferrari +2.098
10. Logan Sargeant – Williams +6.181