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Homef1-racingFormula 1: Verstappen takes Dutch GP pole for third straight year

Formula 1: Verstappen takes Dutch GP pole for third straight year

Max Verstappen delivered the performance his home fans expected by taking pole position at the Dutch Grand Prix for the third year in a row on Saturday, after a crash-strewn wet-to-dry qualifying at Zandvoort.

The outcome left Red Bull’s runaway championship leader perfectly placed for a record-equalling ninth successive win on Sunday, with his team chasing a 14th straight victory.

The orange army packing the grandstands through rain and shine still had an anxious afternoon, with McLaren’s Lando Norris looking the main threat until the dying seconds.

Norris, fastest when the session was halted with four minutes remaining after Charles Leclerc crashed his Ferrari, ended up second.

Verstappen’s time of one minute 10.567 seconds on a drying track was 0.537 faster than Norris could manage.

“Every now and then you hope Max makes a mistake, and he doesn’t, so it’s frustrating in a little way,” commented the Briton as the crowd got the party going.

Six different teams filled the top six places, with George Russell third for Mercedes, Alex Albon fourth for Williams, Fernando Alonso fifth for Aston Martin and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz sixth.

“It was all about putting your laps in but also staying out of trouble. I think we managed that quite well,” said Verstappen, the only driver to have won at Zandvoort since it returned to the calendar in 2021 after a 26-year absence.

“At the end when we could go onto slick tyres again there was one dry line in some places and we had to risk it a bit. But that last lap was very enjoyable.”

The 25-year-old started the drier final phase on intermediates before switching to slicks with the session twice halted and everything resting on one last blast.

“I think we underestimated maybe a little bit with the wind and then the sun coming out how quickly it dried … but at the end of the day it didn’t matter and we still did the right thing,” he said.

Final session

The pole was Verstappen’s eighth in 13 races this season and 28th of his career. Now-retired Sebastian Vettel, with Red Bull in 2013, is the only driver to have won nine in a row.

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, Verstappen’s team mate and closest rival but 125 points behind, qualified seventh.

The final session had already been red-flagged with eight minutes to go when US rookie Logan Sargeant slammed his Williams into the barriers after reaching the top 10 shootout for the first time.

That was also the first time since 2017 that Williams had managed to get both cars in the top 10 and he had gone second, with Albon leading the timesheets, only moments earlier.

Albon had been fastest in the wet first phase.

Sargeant qualified 10th, with Leclerc ninth but repairs to both cars making their starting places uncertain.

Leclerc, who qualified alongside Verstappen on the front row at Zandvoort last year, risked going out in the first phase but managed to pull himself up to 14th and then into the top 10.

Seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton was the big casualty in phase two, with the Briton qualifying a disappointing 13th. “I did two fast laps at the end and the tyres overheated,” said the Briton.

Team boss Toto Wolff said Hamilton had been twice impeded, by Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll (11th) and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda (14th).

Tsunoda was handed a three place grid drop while stewards took no further action against Stroll.

“It’s a shame for Lewis because the pace was there all weekend and we would have had two cars competing right at the front,” said Wolff.

Sainz was reprimanded but escaped penalty for a near collision with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, who qualified eighth, Ferrari were fined 5,000 euros.

New Zealander Liam Lawson, making his F1 debut as replacement for the injured Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull-owned AlphaTauri, qualified in last place.

(Published 27 August 2023, 00:35 IST)

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