Formula One championship leader Max Verstappen put Red Bull on pole position for his home Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort for the third year in a row on Saturday after a tricky, crash-strewn qualifying.
McLaren’s Lando Norris joined the home hero on the front row, with fellow Briton George Russell third fastest for Mercedes and Alex Albon an impressive fourth for Williams on a drying track.
The pole was Verstappen’s eighth of the season, 28th of his career, and he did it with only one flying lap available after Charles Leclerc crashed his Ferrari and halted qualifying with four minutes remaining.
The session had already been red-flagged with eight minutes to go when U.S. rookie Logan Sargeant slammed his Williams into the barriers after reaching the top 10 shootout for the first time.
“It was all about putting your laps in but also staying out of trouble. I think we managed that quite well,” said Verstappen, who has won his home race ever since it returned to the calendar in 2021.
“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,” added the 25-year-old, who started the drier final phase on intermediates.
“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.”
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, Verstappen’s team mate and closest rival but 125 points behind him after 12 of 22 races, qualified seventh.
Verstappen will be chasing his ninth win in a row on Sunday to equal the record set by now-retired Sebastian Vettel, also with Red Bull, in 2013.
“Every now and then you hope Max makes a mistake, and he doesn’t so it’s frustrating in a little way,” said Norris after a lap 0.537 slower than Verstappen’s best of one minute 10.567 seconds.
“But I’m very happy. The team did a good job. It was a chaotic qualifying but another P2.”
Fernando Alonso qualified fifth for Aston Martin with Carlos Sainz lining up sixth for Ferrari and Oscar Piastri eighth for McLaren.
Leclerc qualified ninth but with questions over the state of his car’s gearbox after the impact and the possibility of a drop.
The Monegasque, who qualified alongside Verstappen on the front row at Zandvoort last year, had been in danger of 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 only 13th.
“I did two fast laps at the end and the tyres overheated,” said the Briton. “Hopefully, when the car is heavier (with fuel) maybe we can progress forward in the race.”
New Zealander Liam Lawson, making his F1 debut as replacement for the injured Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull-owned AlphaTauri, qualified in last place.