Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Zandvoort, 2021

Verstappen beats Hamilton to secure home pole position for Dutch Grand Prix

2021 Dutch Grand Prix qualifying

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Max Verstappen took pole position for the Dutch Grand Prix to the delight of the crowd at Zandvoort, but only by half a tenth from rival Lewis Hamilton.

An apparent DRS issue for Verstappen out of the final corner was not enough for Hamilton to overcome Verstappen’s time of a 1’08.885, seeing him take the first pole position at Zandvoort since Nelson Piquet in 1985.

Valtteri Bottas took third on the grid, while Pierre Gasly will start fourth in the AlphaTauri after beating both Ferraris.


What was expected to be a very hectic opening session for the first qualifying for a Dutch Grand Prix in almost 40 years saw the local Max Verstappen faithful delighted to see the Red Bull driver set the early benchmark ahead of championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

The Mercedes pair successfully secured passage through to the second session on the yellow-walled medium tyres – the only team to attempt to get through to Q2 without using a set of softs.

After crashing his Ferrari at Hugenholtz in third practice, Carlos Sainz Jnr was relieved to be released from the garage with plenty of time available to salvage his weekend from being heavily compromised. Robert Kubica, having been parachuted into Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo at short notice, was able to get himself temporarily out of the dropzone after using a second set of soft tyres, before falling back down the field as times began to get quicker.

With the track evolution proving dramatic and every passing minute offering better lap times, drivers began to make major improvements in the final moments. Both Ferraris moved the top of the times with Charles Leclerc ahead of Sainz, while Antonio Giovinazzi and Nicholas Latifi both getting into the top ten.

Sebastian Vettel arrived to the final corner to find a bunch of cars waiting to start their laps and had to slam on the brakes to avoid the Haas pair Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher, ruining his lap and seeing him eliminated in 17th.

The stewards announced that both Mazepin and Schumacher would be investigated after qualifying. Mazepin complained on the radio that Schumacher had overtaken him immediately after the pair left the pits, and appeared to be trying to pass his team mate at turn 13 when Vettel caught him.

Sergio Perez was caught up in the traffic and failed to cross the line to start a final attempt before the chequered flag was flown. He could only watch as first Esteban Ocon, then Lando Norris improved to see the Red Bull driver fall into 16th and eliminated from the session.

Vettel was the next driver out in 17th, with Kubica out in 18th ahead of the two Haas cars on the back row on the grid, with Schumacher ahead of Mazepin.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda1’10.530
17Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes1’10.731
18Robert KubicaAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’11.301
19Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari1’11.387
20Nikita MazepinHaas-Ferrari1’11.875

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As the second session began, Red Bull and Max Verstappen wasted no time in taking advantage of the relatively quiet track to head out for an early banker lap. Verstappen’s 1’09.071 was over a second faster than his best time in Q1 and left him over six tenths quicker than both Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas after their first attempts on the soft tyre.

Pierre Gasly continued to impress in the AlphaTauri, jumping up to third fastest ahead of the Mercedes pair and behind Leclerc’s Ferrari. But Gasly’s team mate, Yuki Tsunoda, was far off his team mate’s pace – sitting at the rear of the field after his initial run.

George Russell tried to improve on his 11th place position after his first run and get himself into the top ten, but pushed too hard into the penultimate corner and spun backwards into the gravel, hitting the tyre barriers with the rear of his Williams. The red flag was immediately flown, but Russell was able to drive the car out of the gravel and around the banked final corner before recovering into the pit lane.

Despite returning to the garage, Russell was unable to rejoin the track when the session eventually resumed with just under four minutes remaining. To try toavoid traffic, drivers took turns in sitting at the exit of the pit lane before joining the circuit for their out-laps.

With the risk of track evolution meaning no position was safe, Red Bull and Mercedes both opted to send their cars back out in the dying minutes for a final lap. However, they would never get the chance to begin them, as the session was stopped for a second time when Russell’s Williams team mate Nicholas Latifi spun on the way into the fast right-hand kink of turn eight while passing Hamilton’s Mercedes, crashing heavily into the barriers.

Latifi was unhurt and able to climb out of his car, but with only one minute and 38 seconds left on the clock, race control decided that the session would not be restarted. That meant that Lando Norris was a surprise victim of Q2, eliminated in 13th place. Russell was credited with 11th despite his earlier accident, with Lance Stroll out in 12th place.

The wrecked Williams of Latifi was out in 14th place, with Yuki Tsunoda the last driver knocked out down in 15th position.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’10.332
12Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’10.367
13Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’10.406
14Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’11.161
15Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda1’11.314

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There was an extended delay to the start of the final shootout for pole position as the barriers at turn eight were repaired following Latifi’s crash at the end of Q2. By the time that Q3 eventually got underway, all ten cars filed out of the pit lane in order, leaving enough space for each other to make their fast laps unimpeded.

Verstappen immediately lit up the timing screens and recorded a 1’08.923 to go quickest of all after the first run. Bottas was almost three tenths slower than the Red Bull, with Hamilton half a tenth further behind his Mercedes team mate in third.

Gasly’s first effort of Q3 was good enough for fourth, ahead of the two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, with Fernando Alonso sitting in seventh place ahead of Giovinazzi, Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon.

The track fell silent until just over three minutes remaining, when the ten cars took the the track once again. Verstappen went out ahead of the two Mercedes of Bottas and Hamilton, who sat at the rear of the train of cars.

Verstappen set a fastest middle sector and crossed the finish line to improve on his own provisional pole time by three hundredths of a second. Bottas was unable to improve, leaving Hamilton the only man with a chance to deny the home fans a Dutch pole sitter. Despite a stunning final sector, Hamilton could not beat Verstappen’s best effort by just under four hundredths of a second, ensuring that Verstappen would be the first Dutch driver to take pole position for the Dutch Grand Prix.

Hamilton demoted Bottas to third, while Gasly improved to secure a second row start for AlphaTauri. The Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz will occupy the third row, ahead of Giovinazzi in seventh, Ocon in eighth, Alonso in ninth and Ricciardo rounding out the top ten.

Top ten in Q3

1Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’08.885
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’08.923
3Valtteri BottasMercedes1’09.222
4Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’09.478
5Charles LeclercFerrari1’09.527
6Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’09.537
7Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’09.590
8Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’09.933
9Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault1’09.956
10Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes1’10.166

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    Will Wood
    Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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    80 comments on “Verstappen beats Hamilton to secure home pole position for Dutch Grand Prix”

    1. What an amazing track Zandvoort is! Why haven’t we been back in 36 years? Even if the race is a bit processional it will still be great to watch the cars on such a difficult and exciting track. A welcome re-addition to the calendar.

      1. I liked all shots from Hugenholtz (t3). Looked amazing.

        I don’t know if the race will be though. Plenty of stuff will happen, but I suspect mostly flags and stoppages. Hope I’m wrong…

      2. Because before Max very few people would have turned up. Bit like Spain and Alonso. Both nations were into MotoGP.

        1. What’s impressive is, as far as I know, alonso isn’t the only spanish world champion but also the only winner, maybe sainz can put an end to that.

          1. isn’t only the only spanish world champion*

      3. @f1frog

        I also greatly enjoyed myself so far. Very challenging for the drivers for qualifying, but not due to walls right next to the track, as on some other circuits. This is more of an old school track.

    2. Verstappen ‘s Dr’s did not worked as expected in the last lap.
      But still mighty close. Great stuff both drivers.

    3. Did Max forget to use DRS on his last lap on the final sector? That was quite silly and almost costly.

      Thanks Max for bringing the best out of Lewis and for Lewis in bringing out the best in Max. I just wish their fans and to some extent Red Bull, stop trying to attack Mercedes.

      1. There was a issue he couldn’t open it!

      2. On board the Drs light worked, so it was selected.

      3. Looked like it opened a little bit.

      4. @krichelle @macleod
        I’m not sure what this thing is about – the pole lap onboard will eventually show whether what everyone seems to claim is true or not.

        1. @jerejj

          yup, confirmed, his DRS was partially opened on the final sector of his final run. Anthony Davidson reckoned probably 0.15 seconds was the gap to #44.

    4. Pleased to see Verstappen on pole but I think he’s going to lose the race – the Mercs are going to beat him on strategy.

      1. Only if there is enough of a gap for Bottas or Hamilton to do the undercut.
        RBR’s strategy might very well be to keep the field closed up for a longer period (if a SC doesn’t do it for them).

      2. I think so too, but I also expect a lot of disruptions/flags.. We might not get a fight for first with one car lucking out with pit stop timing

      3. Not sure, I think that the team the better reacts (or get lucky) to the probably red flag will win.

      4. Perez out of the picture certainly won’t help RB’s cause.

      5. @rocketpanda Possibly, but apparently Max’s long run pace was impressive too, so as usual for him he will try to run away from the field, within reason in terms of tire wear of course, and that way no strategy from Mercedes will do. I think in general Max doesn’t depend on help from his teammate even though of course he understands where and when that help could be an asset. I don’t see Max as too worried in general whenever his teammate isn’t near.

    5. Too many times this year I wonder what Gasly could’ve done in that other Red Bull.

      1. If the car was run by alpha tauri maybe. Quick guys besides verstappen don’t thrive at RBR. He’s good where he is. Mercedes should be looking at him for when Hamilton retires.

      2. Not much more. He would have the same issues with the Red Bull rear-end as he did first time around. Gasly is like Vettel in that he needs a rear-end he can fully trust to perform.

        1. Yeah, he didn’t show any flashes of brilliance in the Red Bull to even consider that he can match Verstappen with it. I think, if anything, things have probably gone the other way or stayed the same. He’s now separated from the Red Bull by 2 drivers and 2 seasons.

    6. Ham also unbelievable. Ves pole. But how close was it. Best drivers ever.

      1. The 3rd sector was where hamilton made the difference, and he does that often.

      2. @pietcoster I do wonder if Leclerc had any effect on Lewis’s 1st sector. The margins were so tight but then again Max would have been quicker had his DRS fully opened.

    7. On his final lap, Max beat his previous time by 0.038 seconds. Hamilton finished his lap with that exact same gap behind Max…. In other words, Max would have pole even without that final outing, with an equal time to Hamilton.

      1. Wow, true, insane.

      2. @x1znet I was thinking the same – what would have happened in that case?

        1. The positions are set by the order the times are set — Max set the time first therefore he would be ahead of Lewis who set it afterwards.
          In 1997, Villeneuve set his time first, followed by Schumacher, and then his teammate Frentzen. Highlight video

          1. Yes, that was historical, don’t think it ever happened again.

            1. Not quite as spectacular but I remember there was a time Kubica and Heidfeld run the same time in quali? Was trying to find it but couldn’t. Maybe it was just a q1 or q2

            2. Barichello and Hulkenberg did so in Valencia 2010 if memory serves.

    8. Incredible laps from both leaders. It’s going to be hard to pass but there will be so much traffic and nowhere for traffic to go which will make it very hard to just run away in the lead. Also I expect a couple safety cars at least so a lottery factor there.

    9. Wow. Verstappen is wiping the floor with Hamilton in terms of pure speed with a slightly inferior car in a way I didn’t think it was possible.

      1. Max is pure raw talent, its been such a great duel between Max and Lewis in the Merc.

      2. *incoming Sir Lewis Fans*

        1. Ya called it

      3. He dominated qualifying aside from q1 and the last lap on q3, I honestly expected more of an improvement by verstappen cause he only gained around 1,5 tenths from q2 to q3, however only really hamilton’s final sector could get close to verstappen.

        1. Apparently he had an issue with his DRS on his last Q3 lap.
          It would be a much more dominant performance.

      4. Please seek treatment.

        1. @emma
          Why should I do something more suitable for Lewis’ fans right now?

          1. Lewis gets pole,it’s the car..max gets pole,,it’s an inferior car,but max is so great…it’s no point did it look like Merc had the better car..and with Lewis missing q2,,his lap was actually very good.

            1. Well, if the Red Bull is really superior to the Mercedes, how come Perez didn’t make it through Q1, and Bottas qualified P3, only 0.299s behind Hamilton?
              The Red Bull is only faster than the Mercedes with Verstappen driving it, ergo, the Mercedes must be the faster car, but Verstappen is clearly doing things with that Red Bull that it shouldn’t be able to do.
              It will be interesting to see what happens within Mercedes next season if they have actually decided to replace Bottas with Russell.

          2. Shots fired…just only once.

      5. Time to sober up. “inferior car”? – by what logic, he’s got 80% of all pole positions.

        Are VER afraid to admit he’s got the better car, the insecurities should be gone now, guys…

        1. @theswift
          By the logic Bottas is always solid and quick and Perez is not.
          As Gasly wasn’t, Albon wasn’t and every other teammate of Verstappen at RB wasn’t.
          Guess what?
          Verstappen makes a lot more a difference than Hamilton. Fact.

          1. Verstappen makes a lot more a difference than Hamilton. Fact.

            Nothing about that statement is factual. Fact.

        2. Analysing races and qualis so far, the cars are pretty similar, it’s hard to know for sure though because perez is hardly ever there.

      6. @liko41 Embarrassing yourself over and over again. I’m watching and enjoying Max & Lewis in equal measure. I’m afraid that if I start to favour Max, I’ll end up something like you.

        1. @psynrg like me? An unbiased fact checker? Too bad. If truth hurts you, it’s not my fault.

          1. Well what facts back up what you said about the redbull being an inferior car…this weekend so far?what you claim is fact,is simply your imagination.

            1. Well, he makes a good point: how comes bottas is demolishing perez? Is perez that bad? We only have a reference point for red bull and that is verstappen.

              Let’s ASSUME verstappen, a lot younger, can bring 2 tenths more than hamilton on speed, how can you be sure he doesn’t do that and that mercedes isn’t slightly faster? Perez doesn’t do anything to counter this point.

            2. Not sure if worth arguing him tbh but you do you

      7. Should be close.

    10. Great lap for Max, Perez form is falling of a cliff. I understand he missed the final run but its not like he has been doing any better in the past few races.

    11. I hope the race will be as exciting as this qualy. Very much enjoyed the battle at the end.

      But wow, Perez is nowhere again, even worse than Gastly and Albon used to be against Max.

      1. Absolutely, he used to be better this year, but since his contract got extended, or maybe slightly earlier, he made a further step down, 5 races to get up to speed, huh?

    12. Great track and flow! But with that many Red Flags and incidents, I don’t know… could be an underwhelming race tomorrow.

      Such a shame for VET, PER and NOR. They sure deserved better. OCO keeping ALO at bay in the hundredths, nice battle. Solid result by GAS and a surprising GIO!

      VER was untouchable today, but HAM pulled out a sweet 3rd sector in his last effort.

      Let’s see…

    13. Brilliant job by Ferrari to get sainz into the session and good job by him to calm his nerves and get a good result. This track is no joke. You make a mistake you get your bell rung.

    14. Wow, what a lap from Hamilton. To be so close to a car which is a second a lap quicker is simply incredible.

      1. Actually, RB is at best on par with Merc.
        If you look at Perez’s struggles, it may well be inferior.

        1. nope, that’s just Sergio

        2. That’ll be the Perez that was signed by RB when nobody else wanted him?

        3. Come on now…Sergio is doing a terrible job in his first season with not a good comparison to use.and the redbull has looked like the quicker car so far this weekend…so to say both the Merc and redbull are even,isn’t based on any facts….BUT if you believe the cars are even…then if Lewis beats max next week,,then please have that same belief,and not claim it’s just because Lewis has the best car.

          1. I don’t understand, why did they extend his contract? People seem to agree with me he’s doing a terrible job, only red bull leaders don’t!

      2. Absolutely no way in hell red bull is 1 sec faster than mercedes, this was an unusual qualifying where there was some margin, but where it matters, as in qt, it was up there, hamilton still probably did a better job than verstappen in q3 (verstappen had some drs problem), but I would be surprised if it was more than 1-2 tenths, look where bottas is, he’s not a second back, and I don’t see you calling him a super driver.

    15. With all the Red Flags and shortened Q2 session I guess RBR and Mercedes are disappointed to not have done a first run on Mediums.
      I’m pretty sure (didn’t check) that their Q1 Medium runs would have sufficed.

      1. They would’ve been 1 sec behind verstappen in q2, I’m not sure, maybe on the cusp.

    16. Dangerous track! Wow, super lap from Lewis given his weekend. Shame he didn’t get pole position. Good job by Max hanging onto P1 by the skin of his teeth.

    17. Robert didn’t get last? I’m a huge fan. Woke up to complete shock he was in the GP, now I’m even more shocked he didn’t get last!

      1. Well, to be fair he doesn’t have the worst car like he did last time around, this is probably the 3rd worst, however he still was nowhere compared to giovinazzi, an aging raikkonen did better.

        1. Being a little rough on though aren’t we? He’s done a lot better than a lot of subs thrown in at the last minute.

        2. @esploratore1 much though I’ve never rated Kubica that highly, it’s not particularly fair to judge him against his team mate based on one practice session and qualifying. Considering how many drivers who switched teams this year and then took several race weekends to get on top of their new machinery (especially Ricciardo), two sessions is not enough time.

    18. Wow, Verstappen almost threw that one away too didn’t he. Massive car advantage and he still only gets it by 4 hundredths from Hamilton.

      Feel bad for Raikkonen, finally that Alfa is doing well and then he’s out.

      1. The massive car advantage is exagerated, verstappen had a drs problem in his last run, and look where perez is: that is throwing it away.

        Raikkonen wouldn’t have done much better, maybe could’ve gone into q2, just look at monaco, again giovinazzi got into q3 and demolished raikkonen and had a great weekend.

    19. Great track for driving and watching car drive, but if the race tomorrow is a procession none of it really matters imo..

      Close and exciting qualifying. The midfield was intense. An AT and AR 4th and 7th was special.

      We now know tech issues meant Verstappen lost 0.3-4s so the gap is solid, but so is the 6 kph Mercedes top speed advantage which might get them the lead, but tyre wear will be higher. If Mercedes still have good tyres with that much less wing at such a track, the season is practically over, so that will be interesting to see.

      Perez absent again. It’s becoming a habit. Team’s fault this time, but how many times do we see people lose out from their obsession to be at the last minute and not the 2nd to last minute, it’s silly.

      With 2 Mercedes against the single Red Bull, it could easily be check mate strategy wise.

    20. Giovinazzi!

    21. Impressed today by both Max’ speed and Lewis’ massive improvement in Q3. Hats off to the both of them.

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