Qualifying: Max Verstappen pips Charles Leclerc to brilliant Dutch GP pole position

Henry Valantine
Max Verstappen in qualifying. Zandvoort September 2022.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen sat in his cockpit. Zandvoort September 2022.

Max Verstappen will start from pole position at home for the second year in a row after beating Charles Leclerc in qualifying by just 0.021s.

Carlos Sainz will start third on the grid for the Dutch Grand Prix, but a spin for Sergio Perez at the final corner on his last run brought out the yellow flags at the wrong time for Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, who had been looking to get in on the action.

Hamilton will start alongside Sainz on the second row, while Perez and Russell will line up P5 and P6 respectively after a thrilling qualifying session at Zandvoort.

Q1 began with an air of hope and expectation around Verstappen, despite issues hindering his practice running, with the crowd loudly cheering their man as he exited the pits for the first time.

A lap of 1:11.317 was his first effort, a full second faster than his team-mate Sergio Perez, who had appeared out of sorts in all three practice sessions heading into qualifying.

The track evolved significantly as the session went on, however, with 1.2s covering Verstappen at the top to Mick Schumacher in P19 before the final Q1 runs.

With that, the track was full as the final laps were run and some unfamiliar faces showed up at the top, with AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda finishing third in Q1.

Lando Norris was fifth in that part of qualifying, but his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was knocked out at the end of Q1 along with Valtteri Bottas, Kevin Magnussen, Sebastian Vettel – who went into the gravel at the final corner on his last lap – and Williams’ Nicholas Latifi.

Q2 had barely got under way before the red flags came out, but rather than being for a driver going awry it was on safety grounds after an orange flare was thrown onto the track.

A marshal was also sent out at Turn 7 during the interval to try and shoo away several pigeons which had congregated in the area, with Russell having also mentioned their presence at the same corner during FP3.

The pause was only a brief one, however, and qualifying continued with the field finely balanced again in the final few minutes.

The order continually shuffled and both Alpine drivers will have been disappointed to drop out, with Fernando Alonso reporting traffic on his final flying lap.

Pierre Gasly, Esteban Ocon, Zhou Guanyu and Alex Albon were the others to drop out – with Mick Schumacher and Yuki Tsunoda advancing to Q3.

Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll also did so in a strong showing, but an unfortunate technical issue ruled him out of taking part in Q3.

Verstappen was the first driver on track in the final part of qualifying and was roared around as he clocked an impressive 1:10.515 as the early benchmark for the field to try and beat.

Hamilton and Sainz went relatively close, but Leclerc popped in six hundredths faster than the World Championship leader to set up a thrilling conclusion to the session.

Leclerc was able to make an ever-so-slight improvement of his own, but that was not quite enough to keep Verstappen behind him – just 0.021s in it between the Ferrari and Red Bull pair.

Sainz came in less than a tenth behind, but a late spin for Perez thwarted the opportunity for both Mercedes drivers to gain pole position.

Qualifying classification

1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:10.342
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari + 0.021
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari + 0.092
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes + 0.306
5 Sergio Perez Red Bull + 0.735
6 George Russell Mercedes + 0.805
7 Lando Norris McLaren + 0.832
8 Mick Schumacher Haas + 1.100
9 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri + 2.214
10 Lance Stroll Aston Martin NO TIME SET
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:11.512
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine + 0.093
13 Fernando Alonso Alpine + 0.099
14 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Racing + 0.192
15 Alex Albon Williams + 0.290
16 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Racing 1:11.961
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas + 0.080
18 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren + 0.120
19 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin + 0.430
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams + 1.392