Max Verstappen took pole by more than half a second for the Dutch Grand Prix, with Lando Norris, George Russell and Alex Albon all performing excellently to make it onto the front two rows at Zandvoort.
Six different constructors will fill the first six grid slots on Sunday, with two red flag interruptions in Q3 breaking up what was a competitive session on Saturday afternoon.
Lewis Hamilton was knocked out in Q2 and will line up 13th on Sunday, while Liam Lawson will begin his F1 debut 20th after being drafted in to replace Daniel Ricciardo at AlphaTauri.
Frantic Dutch Grand Prix qualifying takes place in mixed conditions
Following a wet FP3 session, the following Formula 2 race ended early after an enormous shunt and a massive downpour – but by the time Q1 came around, the sun was shining through the clouds at Zandvoort.
Intermediate tyres were the order of the day for all the drivers as they set about their qualifying running for the Dutch Grand Prix, but as practice showed, the braking zones were treacherous.
Both Nico Hulkenberg and Max Verstappen went into the gravel early on at Tarzan – the heaviest braking zone into Turn 1 at Zandvoort – locking a front wheel as they took to the escape road.
Verstappen was clearly not happy, asking over team radio: “What the **** is going on with the car?” and suggesting he had no grip at all early in Q1.
As is often the case in wetter conditions, the drivers opted to stay on track and pound around on their intermediate tyres, clearing water from the track surface and putting in ever-improving lap times.
Charles Leclerc went off twice at Tarzan in FP3, and did so again in Q1 after out-braking himself, and the drivers were doing all they could to avoid each other with a hairy moment between Carlos Sainz and Oscar Piastri, who got close to each other as the Ferrari driver exited the pit lane, while Lewis Hamilton claimed he was blocked by Lance Stroll heading through the final corner.
But as it shook out in Q1, Alex Albon was fastest of all, and Liam Lawson will start 20th on his Formula 1 debut after deputising for Daniel Ricciardo at short notice.
Esteban Ocon was the big name to exit at the Q1 stage for Alpine, along with Alfa Romeo drivers Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas, with Kevin Magnussen also dropping out.
Leclerc cut a frustrated figure after the session, urging Ferrari to focus on traffic and putting him in the right place on track after just about making it through, in P14.
Lewis Hamilton knocked out in shock Q2 exit
Q2 began with the cars refuelled, a bit more water on the track surface after a light shower late on in Q1 and fresh intermediates as the drivers had a little more space to play with, as only 15 came back out on track.
Times began slower than was in Q1, but with the surface drying quickly, they quickly improved and it was Verstappen, Norris and Hamilton setting the pace with five minutes remaining.
But given the changing conditions, it was all about how the session finished to see who would make it through to the top 10 – with Sergio Perez and Sainz both in need of a lap to get them out of the drop zone.
Carrying on his excellent form from practice, it was Alex Albon who went fastest for Williams as a dry line began to emerge at Zandvoort towards the end of Q2, before he was pipped by Piastri.
But as the final laps came in, it was Hamilton who slid down the standings to P13, and unable to improve, he pitted before crossing the line on his final flying lap – as Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly, Yuki Tsunoda and Nico Hulkenberg also made way.
On the other side of the spectrum, an elated Logan Sargeant made it through to his first ever Q3 session for Williams, as the Grove-based team got both their cars into the top 10 shootout.
Verstappen takes pole as Sargeant and Leclerc crashes bring out red flag
Q3 began with it being dry enough for dry tyres, and Albon posted a 1:15.743, but the ecstacy for Williams driver Sargeant quickly turned to agony as he piled into the barriers at Turn 2, prompting a red flag.
He caught a piece of wet asphalt as he swung into the right-hander, which sent him into a spin and into the barrier.
The American rookie climbed out of his car and was able to walk away from the incident, but a lengthy delay took place as the barriers were repaired – with eight minutes of Q3 left to take place once the session got back underway again.
And when it did so, the track had dried out even further, with Norris posting a 1:12.049 on soft tyres – some three seconds faster than Albon prior to the session’s unplanned interlude, and three tenths faster than Verstappen on his first run.
But with a new top five in place and four minutes to go, the red flag was out once again – with Leclerc piling into the barriers on the exit of Turn 9 this time.
The Ferrari driver pulled into the right-hander and appeared to understeer onto lingering moisture on the track at Zandvoort, which sent him onto the grass and into the wall at speed, before he was able to climb out of his car again.
When the action got going again for what the drivers hoped was the final time, it was an easy scenario to understand – one flying lap to stake a claim for pole at the Dutch Grand Prix.
And Verstappen went three quarters of a second clear of Norris’ benchmark in the first sector, before Norris went even quicker still in the first part of the lap.
The Red Bull driver crossed the line with a 1:10.567, significantly quicker than Norris could manage come the end of the lap and a full 1.3 seconds faster than team-mate Sergio Perez.
Russell pipped Albon to third place in an excellent showing come the end of qualifying, with Alonso and Sainz making up an all-Spanish third row.
Dutch Grand Prix 2023: Qualifying classification
1 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing 1:10.567
2 Lando NORRIS McLaren +0.537
3 George RUSSELL Mercedes +0.727
4 Alexander ALBON Williams +0.852
5 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +0.939
6 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +1.187
7 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +1.313
8 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +1.371
9 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +2.098
10 Logan SARGEANT Williams +6.181
11 Lance STROLL Aston Martin 1:20.121
12 Pierre GASLY Alpine +0.007
13 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +0.030
14 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +0.109
15 Nico HULKENBERG Haas +0.129
16 Guanyu ZHOU Alfa Romeo 1:22.067
17 Esteban OCON Alpine +0.043
18 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas +0.125
19 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +0.193
20 Liam LAWSON AlphaTauri +1.353