By Robert Haile
Formula 1 returned to Zandvoort, Netherlands for the first time since 1985 and it has not disappointed as today’s, September 4, qualifying provided plenty of action.
Home favourite and title challenger Red Bull driver Max Verstappen claimed back to back pole positions as he beat Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas who took second and third.
Verstappen said “It feels great to be on pole position and of course it makes it even more satisfying when it’s at one of your home races. Everyone was going crazy each time I crossed the line and it’s amazing to see people having the time of their lives in the grandstands. I’ve had so much fun already from FP1 driving this track and in qualifying when you’re on low fuel it’s just incredible.
“Sector two and the banked corners, plus the last corner where you’re flat, it’s a nice sensation and it’s just so enjoyable to drive. It’s an old school track that is flowing and fast like Suzuka where you really feel the grip of a Formula One car, it’s challenging and I enjoy tracks like this. Today we worked really well as a team and took another good step forward with the car compared to yesterday.
“Qualifying was quite tricky with the red flags, you could see there was no room for error, which is nice and makes it more exciting, but my lap itself was good. There were two occasions where I lost some time – first with a double upshift coming out of Turn 3 where it is very bumpy, and then my DRS didn’t open coming out of the last corner which we need to look into, but fortunately the lap was enough for pole.
“Of course, at this track it’s important to be starting from out in front, because it’s very difficult to overtake here, so the start will be key and then we need to look after our tyres and be on alert because new tracks can often bring chaos. I expect Mercedes to be strong, you could see the gap was close today, so tomorrow isn’t as straightforward as it seems.”
Ferrari managed to repair Carlos Sainz’s car after he crashed in free practice earlier in the day.
It is a strange weekend for Alfa Romeo as Kimi Raikkonen announced his retirement from Formula 1 earlier in the week but after a positive covid test reserve driver Robert Kubica will take his place for the Grand Prix.
This will be Kubica’s ninety eighth start in F1 for the Polish driver who had a life threatening crash in 2011 while rally driving.
In a surprising first qualifying session McLaren’s Lando Norris was almost an early exit before Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel went out.
In second session Williams George Russell off the back of his first podium was pushing to improve when slid off the track bringing out a red flag as he returned to the track and continued to the pits.
After the restart of the session Williams were back into the track wall as Nicholas Latifi went off this time with a heavier impact that brought out the red flag and ended the session with Norris in the elimination zone.
Verstappen took Pole Position by four hundredths of a second from Hamilton with Bottas in third.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was fourth ahead of both Ferrari’s with Charles Leclerc beating Carlos Sainz Antonio Giovinazzi will start seventh for Alfa Romeo.
Esteban Ocon beat Fernando Alonso as Alpine start eighth and ninth while Daniel Ricciardo will be starting in tenth for McLaren.
Q1 – Max Verstappen (Red Bull), Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes),
Q2 – George Russell (Williams), Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), Lando Norris (McLaren), Nicholas Latifi (Williams), Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
Q1 – Sergio Perez (Red Bull), Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin), Robert Kubica (Alfa Romeo), Mick Schumacher (Haas), Nikita Mazepin (Haas)