After missing out by a tiny margin, Nico Rosberg believes Charles Leclerc “threw away” the chance of pole position for the Dutch Grand Prix.
Leclerc and Max Verstappen were separated by only 0.021s at the end of qualifying having had a tight battle throughout the session that culminated in a thrilling end at Zandvoort.
Both Mercedes drivers also appeared to be in contention for a run at pole themselves, but a late spin for Sergio Perez out of Turn 13 scuppered their chances of improving their times when the yellow flags came out.
Carlos Sainz also got to within a tenth of Verstappen’s pole time, but it was the World Championship leader who eventually came out on top.
Leclerc admitted after the session an error at Turn 10 had made him lose time on his final run, but 2016 World Champion Rosberg thinks the Ferrari driver could, and should, have put a cleaner lap together.
“Absolutely thrilling qualifying,” Rosberg told Sky F1. “Max [is] just driving like the best driver out there – really incredible how he puts it together.
“Leclerc threw it away. I think he had the pace to be on pole. He really messed up in the middle of the track.
“You’ll see two mistakes in those middle corners – one even missed the apex by like three metres. He was really out wide.
“So he, I think, threw it away with some small mistakes.”
And it's a home pole for Max Verstappen, by just 0.021s!
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) September 3, 2022
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner also thought Leclerc had the potential to put his car on pole, given the performance Ferrari had shown in practice and through the first two parts of qualifying.
Having looked at the team’s data, he felt Leclerc should have been the quickest driver on track at the end of Q3 but the quality of Verstappen’s final lap clinched it for the Red Bull man.
“On the theoreticals, Leclerc is a sniff quicker than Max,” Horner said to Sky F1 about the duel between the two.
“It looks like he made a mistake on his last lap and Max nailed it – that was the difference today.”
Verstappen and Leclerc will form the front row, with Sainz and Lewis Hamilton behind them on the grid at lights out.