F1 2021 Dutch GP – QUalifying report: Max takes pole at his first home race!
It’s been a delayed by a year, but finally we get to see Formula One cars take to the Zandvoort track foe qualifying.
Max Verstappen finally got to the top of the timing sheets in FP3 and looked to be the driver to beat. But with Zandvoort being a new track, it was still unclear how the rest of the grid would form up.
But for the first time 36 years, it was time for qualifying for the Dutch Grand Prix.
After Kimi Raikkonen’s positive Covid-19 test, Robert Kubica was now taking his place in the Alfa Romeo. After his first run, he was faster than both Haas cars.
Carlos Sainz was also back out of track after a heavy shunt in FP3. The Ferrari’s were looking quick in Practice and Leclerc was 4th after his first run. Sainz was 17th after his first run, but he improved all the way up to 8th on his second run.
Mercedes opted for the Medium tyres for their first runs and Lewis Hamilton was only 0.15 seconds off Max Verstappen who set his time on the softs.
Both Williams cars looked very competitive in the midfield with both Russell and Latifi looking fast. It was Aston Martin who seemed to be in trouble after the first runs and it didn’t get better.
Stroll could not get out of the bottom five after his second run while Vettel was right on the edge of danger.
Daniel Ricciardo was in real danger of dropping out, but he managed to recover and put his McLaren in 9th. Norris scraped through in 15th.
Sergio Perez could not get a second run in and as the track ramped up, the drivers behind were all able to put in faster lap time and he was eliminated.
Sebastian Vettel was also not able to complete his final flying lap as he was blocked by Nikita Mazepin as Vettel approached the final corner. He was out, but his team-mate Lance Stroll was able to escape and move into Q2.
Eliminated: Perez (16th), Vettel (17th), Kubica (18th), Schumacher (19th), Mazepin (20th)
No medium tyres for Max Verstappen as he emerged for Q2.
Mercedes had opted for Medium tyres in Q1, but this time they also went for the soft tyres. Both Mercedes drivers could not get anywhere near Verstappen. Hamilton was over 6 tenths off Verstappen with Bottas another tenth off Lewis.
Lando Norris did not look comfortable in his McLaren. His first run was slower than both Giovinazzi in the Alfa Romeo and George Russell in the Williams.
McLaren’s rivals, Ferrari, were looking very fast. Leclerc topped Q1 and put his Ferrari above both Mercedes and into 2nd place.
Pierre Gasly also managed to leapfrog the Mercedes cars, nearly two tenths of a second faster than Lewis Hamilton. After one run he already looked comfortably into Q3.
It looked even more comfortable when George Russel spun out on the final corner and brought out the red flag with just under four minutes to go. Luckily for Russell the car was not damaged and he was able to drive out of the gravel and bring his car back to the pits.
This put a lot of pressure on the likes of Lando Norris and other drivers towards the back to get a lap in.
But they wouldn’t get a lap in anyway. Nicolas Latifi in the other Williams crashed out with just over a minute and a half left. The red flag was brought out and the session would not restart. This was great news for Antonio Giovinazzi as he would progress to Q3.
Eliminated: Russell (11th), Stroll (12th), Norris (13th), Latifi (14th), Tsunoda (15th)
It didn’t look like anyone could touch Max Verstappen and it looked to be the case again from the start of Q3. He was 3 tenths faster than both Mercedes drivers.
Bottas was able to pip Hamilton by about half a tenth. Lewis’ lap was a little scrappy and couldn’t get a clean lap together, but despite that, he would have still been behind Max.
Ferrari were looking quick, but Pierre Gasly managed to go faster than them both and put his AlphaTauri in 4th place.
Giovinazzi had done an impressive run after his first run by putting himself in 8th, ahead of Ricciardo in 9th and Ocon in 10th.
As the drivers came out to do their final runs, it was going to be a big job for Mercedes to take pole off Max Verstappen.
Gasly held off the charge from the Ferrari’s and held onto fourth place. Giovinazzi improved his place and overtook Alonso for 7th place.
Max Verstappen improved his lap by half a tenth on his second run and this would prove to be crucial as Lewis was only 0.038 seconds off taking Pole off to home hero. Bottas couldn’t improve and will start 3rd.
Max is on pole and we have a great race on our hands for tomorrow.