Max Verstappen claims a third consecutive Pole Position in Zandvoort, getting one step closer to equalling Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine consecutive victories. Once again, it seems that reliability problems or early contact could be his biggest obstacles.
Lando Norris and George Russell led their respective teams at the front, with Albon, Alonso, Sainz, Perez and Piastri behind.
It was a difficult day for Charles Leclerc, who blocks in Q3 looking for an unlikely time and position for the SF23.
The Monegasque made a small mistake with big consequences at turn 9. Sargeant secured a first Q3 with Williams, whilst Lewis Hamilton missed out on the top ten.
Zandvoort qualifying: Norris ahead of Russell, Albon superb and Aston recovering
Red Bull is confirmed to be unbeatable with the usual Verstappen in Pole, despite the hopes of McLaren, who had the drivers in first and second position after the first attempts of Q3.
The MCL60 was very consistent in all conditions in qualifying at Zandvoort, but Piastri was unable to complete a good last lap like his team-mate.
As predicted, Mercedes has also adapted well to the Dutch track, albeit with a few more difficulties. George Russell will start from a promising third for tomorrow’s race.
The race pace simulations from free practice promise a close battle for second place behind Verstappen.
Q1 started under intermediate tyre conditions, and as can be expected, there was significant track evolution.
McLaren and Red Bull confirmed their lead, with Mercedes, Aston Martin and Ferrari just behind in the opening minutes of the session. The Alfa Romeo drivers struggled for pace, failing to make the second part of qualifying.
A late stop in Q1 put Charles Leclerc in an awkward position, although he managed to go through. Zhou, Ocon, Magnussen, Bottas and Lawson were the first drivers eliminated.
The track began to dry in the second part of qualifying. The first surprise came with Lewis Hamilton, only securing 13th after a team misjudged his strategy. Stroll, Gasly, Tsunoda and Hulkenberg were also eliminated.
The first accident of the afternoon was caused by Logan Sargeant, making his first appearance in Q3 in what has been a very strong Williams throughout the weekend.
Rumours of possible replacements for Sargeant still circulate in the paddock, but Sargeant was impressive today. Barring parts any infringements of parc ferme, the Williams no. 2 should start from tenth position in tomorrow’s race.
The final phase of the session, postponed by almost twenty minutes due to repairs to the barriers in turn three, took place with all the riders on dry tyres for the first time since yesterday’s FP2.
On the second lap, it was Leclerc who made a mistake in the central sector. While the Monegasque tried to improve, he crossed the limit, as has happened several times this year in an attempt to fill the defects of the SF23. He will start from ninth for tomorrow’s race.
Author: Andrea Vergani
Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang