Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen took pole position for his home race at Zandvoort half a second clear of McLaren’s Lando Norris in a wet/dry qualifying for the 2023 FIA Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix that was twice interrupted by red flags.
After separate crashes for Williams’ Logan Sargeant and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc brought the final top-10 shootout to a halt, Verstappen held his nerve in the tight final handful of minutes to post an unbeatable lap of 1:10.567, 0.537s clear of Norris, with Mercedes’ George Russell in fourth ahead of Alex Albon in a much improved Williams.
At the start of the session Norris took top spot in the opening stages with a time of 1:22.932, almost four tenths of a second ahead of Verstappen. Norris’ team-mate Oscar Piastri then took P1 and with a little under seven minutes remaining Sergio Pérez, in the second Red Bull, jumped to P2 with a time of 1:22.296.
The track was improving all the time, however, and Verstappen was soon back in P1, posting a lap of 1:21.230 to sit almost two tenths clear of Piastri who had improved to 1:21.254 and third-place Norris who was almost two tenths further back.
With three minutes left, Alex Albon stole P1 with a lap of 1:20.939 and light rain beginning to fall in the pit lane there were few improvements during the final laps of Q1, though Charles Leclerc needed a last-ditch attempt to escape the drop zoner and the Ferrari driver’s nervy, sliding final flyer boosted him to P14.
Out at the end of the first session were Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, the second Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas and rookie Liam Lawson, taking part in his first Qualifying session for AlphaTauri in place of the injured Daniel Ricciardo.
At the start of Q2 Verstappen ste that pace with a lap of 1:21.921, while Piastri took P2 with a time of 1:21.399, ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso.
With a little over seven minutes remaining, Verstappen improved to 1:20.282 to take P1 ahead of fellow improver Norris, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in P3. With the sun now shining and with conditions steadily improving, Verstappen took six tenths of a second out of his own P1 time to lower the benchmark at 1:19.652. Pérez, on a new set of intermediates, then jumped from P11 to P2 with a time of 1:20.591. But once again the Red Bull drivers were shuffled back by Albon who took P1 with a lap of 1:19.399.
With just over a minute left Piastri moved the top of the timesheet with a time of 1:19.392. The Australian was the first to take the flag, however, and with a host of improvements being made elsewhere he couldn’t hold onto P1. Verstappen duly took top spot at the end of the session with a lap of 1:18.856. Piastri held on to P2 ahead of Albon, with Alonso fourth ahead of Leclerc, with George Russell sixth for Mercedes ahead of Norris, while Pérez went through in P8 ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and the second Williams of Logan Sargeant. Out went Stroll, in P11, ahead of Gasly, Hamilton, AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and Haas’ Nico Hülkenberg.
At the start of the top 10 shootout it was Albon, on slick tyres, who set the pace, with the Williams driver posting a lap of 1:15.743 a second clear of team-mate Sargeant, Sainz and Russell. There was no time for any other flying laps, however, as the red flags were flown when Sargeant lost control of his Williams and went off hard into the barriers at Turn 2.
After a 20-minute delay due to barrier repairs, running resumed, with eight minutes left in the session and with the remaining drivers on slick tyres.
Russell was the first to set a flyer and the P1 time immediately dropped to 1:12.578. Norris quickly rose to the top of the order with a lap of 1:12.049 ahead of Piastri, while Verstappen slotted into third place on 1:12.389. However, with four minutes remaining the red flags came out again when Leclerc, on his second flyer, went off at Turn 9, causing extensive damage to the left side of his Ferrari.
When the green lights were shown again, Verstappen punched in what proved to be an unbeatable benchmark of 1:10.567 to take his eight pole position of 2023. Norris got closest to the Dutchman, though the McLaren driver took the front row berth a full half second adrift of the champion, while Russell will line up third alongside Albon. Alonso and Sainz are set to start on row three, and Pérez will start the Dutch Grand Prix from P7 on the grid ahead of Piastri and the unfortunate Leclerc and Sargeant.
2023 FIA Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:10.567 8 217.274
2 Lando Norris McLaren 1:11.104 0.537 0.761 7 215.633
3 George Russell Mercedes 1:11.294 0.727 1.030 9 215.058
4 Alexander Albon Williams 1:11.419 0.852 1.207 10 214.682
5 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:11.506 0.939 1.331 9 214.421
6 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:11.754 1.187 1.682 9 213.680
7 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Racing 1:11.880 1.313 1.861 9 213.305
8 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:11.938 1.371 1.943 9 213.133
9 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:12.665 2.098 2.973 5 211.001
10 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:16.748 6.181 8.759 3 199.77
11 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:20.121 1.265 1.604 10 191.365
12 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:20.128 1.272 1.613 10 191.348
13 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:20.151 1.295 1.642 10 191.293
14 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:20.230 1.374 1.742 10 191.105
15 Nico Hülkenberg Haas 1:20.250 1.394 1.768 10 191.057
16 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:22.067 1.128 1.394 12 186.827
17 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:22.110 1.171 1.447 12 186.729
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:22.192 1.253 1.548 11 186.543
19 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:22.260 1.321 1.632 12 186.389
20 Liam Lawson AlphaTauri 1:23.420 2.481 3.065 12 183.797