Verstappen edges Leclerc for Dutch GP pole

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Verstappen edges Leclerc for Dutch GP pole

Formula 1

Verstappen edges Leclerc for Dutch GP pole

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Max Verstappen stormed to pole position ahead of Charles Leclerc at his home Dutch Grand Prix.

Leclerc had been the faster driver after the first laps of Q3 by half a tenth and looked set to send Verstappen’s home fans home disappointment, but the Dutchman rallied the second time around to challenge the Monegasque. Leclerc was fastest of all in the first sector, but a blisteringly quick second split was enough for Verstappen to nose ahead before they tackled the final part of the lap.

The Ferrari driver again improved on his time to record a purple sector at the final split, but it wasn’t enough to counteract the Red Bull Racing car’s impressive time in the middle of the lap, and a personal best for Verstappen as he crossed the line was good enough to take his second consecutive Dutch Grand Prix pole position.

It was an emphatic turnaround from Friday’s form, when the home hero found himself on the back foot thanks to a gearbox problem that deprived him of most of FP1.

“Unbelievable,” he said. “Especially after yesterday as well — we had a difficult day, but we worked really well overnight with the whole team to turn it around.

“We changed a lot because yesterday was a bit rushed in FP2 to the car together. Today was again enjoyable to drive. It was very close. A qualifying lap around here, it was insane.”

Leclerc was pleased to have pushed memories of Ferrari’s deeply uncompetitive effort last weekend in Belgium from his mind and was confident he could contend for victory from second on Sunday.

“Max did a great lap,” he said. “We are much stronger here compared to last weekend, so that’s good to see.

“For tomorrow I think our race pace looks quite strong. It’s going to be close with the Red Bull. We just need to do a great start, then we’ll see.”

Carlos Sainz qualified third to give Ferrari strong representation at the front of the grid, but the Spaniard lamented that he ultimately lacked the pace to contend for pole.

“It was a clean lap with no mistakes,” he said. “I was just missing that last half a tenth to a tenth to beat Charles and Max.

“It was on the limit out there. Every little meter of track you could use or you could push on counted.”

The end of Q3 was disrupted by Sergio Perez spinning his car through the final corner, causing a yellow flag that forced George Russell, Yuki Tsunoda and Lewis Hamilton to abandon their final laps. Hamilton was nonetheless able to claim fourth — albeit down from third between runs — to line up on the second row of the grid. Perez’s first lap was good enough to keep him fifth ahead of Russell.

Lando Norris was seventh for McLaren, while Mick Schumacher and Yuki Tsunoda followed in eighth and ninth. Lance Stroll was unable to take part in Q3 due to a technical problem in his Aston Martin.

Pierre Gasly was knocked out 11th by less than 0.1s, qualifying ahead of Alpine drivers Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso. The latter, however, was infuriated to have stumbled across Perez through Turn 8, which cost him time in the middle sector on what was shaping up to be a quick lap.

Zhou Guanyu was eliminated 14th for Alfa Romeo ahead of Williams driver Alex Albon. Valtteri Bottas will start 16th for Alfa Romeo after missing out on Q2 by 0.14s to teammate Zhou.

Kevin Magnussen will start 17th for Haas ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who was half a second slower than teammate Norris as his late-stage McLaren career woes continue.

Sebastian Vettel was a disappointing 19th after oversteering through Turn 13 scrambling over the gravel, throwing away a golden chance to qualify in the top 10.

Nicholas Latifi will start last after qualifying more than a second slower than the rest of the field.

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