Verstappen beats Norris to pole in incident-filled Dutch GP qualifying

2023 Dutch Grand Prix qualifying

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Max Verstappen maintained his perfect record of home pole positions at Zandvoort by beating Lando Norris at the end of an eventful qualifying.

The championship leader made his final flying lap of Q3 count, beating Norris by half a second to secure a home pole for the Dutch Grand Prix. George Russell will start third on the grid, with Alexander Albon fourth for Williams.


After the final practice session on Saturday morning had taken place entirely in wet conditions and the Formula 2 sprint race was abandoned as the rain continued, the Zandvoort circuit was still very wet when the first phase of qualifying began. A large queue formed at the end of the pit lane before the green light came on with all 20 drivers heading out on intermediate tyres.

Alexander Albon was the first driver to complete a flying lap but ran off the track at turn 11, taking a trip across the gravel. Logan Sargeant set the early benchmark with a 1’24.780, but that was beaten by his team mate on his second effort.

The drivers were struggling for grip in the wet conditions. Max Verstappen locked up and ran through the gravel at Tarzan, the first corner. Charles Leclerc also missed the same turn, as he had done three times during the final practice session.

After recovering from his earlier mistake, Verstappen moved to the top of the times with his first clean push lap of the session. But he was beaten by both McLarens of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris as well as team mate Sergio Perez. The track gradually improved, with Norris improving to take the top spot while claiming that the track was “drying quite a bit”.

Lewis Hamilton claimed he was blocked by Lance Stroll in the final sector on one of his push laps, while Piastri had to take avoiding action into turn 11 to miss Carlos Sainz Jnr’s Ferrari. The stewards noted both incidents.

With three minutes remaining in the session, the drop zone consisted of Yuki Tsunoda, Zhou Guanyu, Nico Hulkenberg, debutante Liam Lawson and Valtteri Bottas, but the track was improving at a constant rate. Leclerc fell into the danger zone in 18th with just a final flying lap available to him, but he just managed to pull himself safe with a time good enough for 14th.

By the time all cars had finished their final flying laps, Zhou was the first driver eliminated from the session in 16th place, with Esteban Ocon also out in the Alpine. Kevin Magnussen also failed to make it through, with Bottas out in the second Alfa Romeo in 19th. In his first qualifying session, Liam Lawson was slowest in 20th.

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Q1 result

123Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW451’20.93912
21Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’20.9650.02612
381Oscar PiastriMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’21.2310.29212
44Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’21.2760.33712
555Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-231’21.3210.38212
663George RussellMercedesW141’21.3450.40612
718Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’21.5700.63112
810Pierre GaslyAlpine-RenaultA5231’21.7350.79611
922Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’21.7810.84212
1014Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’21.8400.90111
1127Nico HulkenbergHaas-FerrariVF-231’21.8910.95210
1244Lewis HamiltonMercedesW141’21.9190.98013
1311Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’21.9721.03313
1416Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’22.0191.08012
152Logan SargeantWilliams-MercedesFW451’22.0361.09713
1624Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’22.0671.12812
1731Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5231’22.1101.17112
1820Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-231’22.1921.25311
1977Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’22.2601.32112
2040Liam LawsonAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’23.4202.48112

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Ferrari informed Leclerc that they did not expect further rain during Q2 when the second phase of qualifying began, and that turned out to be the case. All drivers returned to the track on intermediate tyres and made sure to leave their rivals enough space for them to complete their opening flying laps free of traffic.

Verstappen was comfortably the quickest of all after the first push laps were completed, seven tenths of a second quicker than George Russell’s Mercedes. The championship leader’s next lap was over a second faster, with Piastri his first rival able to get within a second of him.

Norris then replaced Verstappen at the top of the times by less than a tenth, but it proved short-lived as Verstappen improved to a 1’20.282. Red Bull offered their driver the opportunity to pit for a fresh set of intermediates, but Verstappen opted to save a new set for the final phase of qualifying instead.

Many of those behind Verstappen did choose to fit new intermediates, however, including Hamilton, Russell, Albon, Leclerc and Verstappen’s team mate Perez. Albon showed the advantage of fresh intermediates by jumping to the top with his next flying lap, with Red Bull responding by bringing Verstappen in for new tyre with only two minutes remaining.

With time expiring, Norris was the only driver who did not pit for a second set of intermediates. However, he still managed to improve on his final lap and move himself into seventh place. With many others improving, Hamilton dropped out of the top 10 and ran out of time to beat his previous best, leaving him knocked out in 12th.

Stroll, who was vulnerable in tenth place, was knocked out by Sargeant, who improved to tenth on his final lap to reach Q3 for the first time in his career. Joining Stroll out in Q2 were Pierre Gasly, Hamilton, Tsunonda in 14th and Hulkenberg in 15th.

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Q2 result

11Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’18.85623
281Oscar PiastriMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’19.3920.53622
323Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW451’19.3990.54322
414Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’19.4290.57321
516Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’19.6000.74422
663George RussellMercedesW141’19.6200.76423
74Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’19.7690.91323
811Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’19.8561.00024
955Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-231’19.9291.07323
102Logan SargeantWilliams-MercedesFW451’20.0671.21124
1118Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’20.1211.26522
1210Pierre GaslyAlpine-RenaultA5231’20.1281.27221
1344Lewis HamiltonMercedesW141’20.1511.29523
1422Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’20.2301.37422
1527Nico HulkenbergHaas-FerrariVF-231’20.2501.39420

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As the sun began beating down over the circuit, there was already a hint of a dry line, suggesting the final shoot-out for pole position was going to be all about being on the right tyres at the right time.

Piastri, Leclerc and Perez opted to head out on intermediates, while Albon, Russell, Sainz and Sargeant all gambled for slick rubber. Almost immediately it was clear that the track was indeed dry enough for slicks to be viable, leading to all of those on intermediates bailing back into the pits to switch to the softs.

Russell was the first driver to complete a timed lap on the softs, positing a 1’18.245, which was quickly beaten by more than two seconds by Albon’s Williams and his team mate Sargeant. Despite the dry tyres clearly being faster, Verstappen emerged from the pit lane with intermediate tyres. He was almost instantly called in to switch to softs, but before he could do the session was red-flagged as Sargeant had crashed at turn two.

The Williams driver lost control after appearing to just touch the damp part of the circuit on the left hand side entering the right hander, which sent him spinning over the gravel and crashing into the TecPro barriers. There was a lengthy delay as the barriers were repaired, with Sargeant able to climb safely from the car.

The session eventually resumed with just over eight minutes remaining, the track now drier than at any other phase in qualifying. At the end of the first push laps of the restart, Norris sat on provisional pole position with a 1’12.049, with team mate Piastri in second. Verstappen’s first lap was only good enough for third, three tenths of a second slower than Norris.

Before anyone could complete a second flying lap, the session was red-flagged yet again as Leclerc skidded off track at turn nine and crashed hard into the barrier, causing significant damage to his Ferrari. Yet another stoppage allowed the track to dry out even more, with just under four minutes of time remaining as qualifying resumed for the final time.

With only time for one final push lap, all the pressure was on drivers for their last laps. Verstappen was the first over the line and he blitzed Norris’s previous pole time by well over a second. Piastri could not get within a second of the Red Bull while Norris was just over half a second slower with his last attempt, appearing to seal another home pole position for the world champion.

Norris held onto second on the grid with Russell qualifying third on the grid. Albon equalled his best ever grid position with fourth on the grid, his highest qualifying result for Williams. Alonso will start fifth for Aston Martin, ahead of Sainz, Perez and Piastri. The two drivers who crashed out of the session, Leclerc and Sargeant, will start ninth and tenth, respectively.

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Q3 result

11Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’10.56731
24Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’11.1040.53730
363George RussellMercedesW141’11.2940.72732
423Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW451’11.4190.85232
514Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’11.5060.93930
655Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-231’11.7541.18732
711Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’11.8801.31333
881Oscar PiastriMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’11.9381.37131
916Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’12.6652.09827
102Logan SargeantWilliams-MercedesFW451’16.7486.18127

2023 Dutch Grand Prix

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Author information

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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22 comments on “Verstappen beats Norris to pole in incident-filled Dutch GP qualifying”

  1. MV is simply the greatest driver. So good on every condition and puts in those laps when it matters the most.

    AA looks very good but more than that well done to the team of Capito who got sacked and gave Vowles this car.

    1. It’s a bit unfortunate that the rest of the field is so sub-par.

      Guys like Mansell, Piquet, Senna and Prost – or for that matter Alonso, Räikkönen, Hamilton, Button and Vettel – needed each other to look as great as they did.

      1. And with perez so slow in “wet conditions”, as in at that point it was simply a dry track evolving quickly, this makes it look like verstappen is so great, but looks to me like red bull has half a second in hand.

        1. The Red Bull for sure had 3 to 4 tenths on McLaren but underperformance by LH, CL, and even LN exaggerated the gap.

          That’s the point anyway. Tricky conditions, gap only grows bigger.

          Using Perez as a reference is a moot point. He’s lost.

          RB’s dry quali margins aren’t this high, but in tricky conditions he is miles clear, which is why he is the great driver he is.

          Others keep doing funny things while he doesn’t falter.

    2. This can’t be a serious comment… is it?? 😂😂😂

  2. It’s incredible how quick this Williams is. Albon was only 0.3s off P2, which means Max in the same car would have put it on pole position and that’s on almost completely dry track, unlike Russell at Spa in 2021.

    1. There’s no way verstappen would’ve been much quicker than albon, who overachieved with this williams, verstappen did what was expected with this red bull, it’s perez underperforming here.

      1. What? We saw in 2020 Max was on average 0.5s/lap quicker than Albon in the very same car . That’s a fact, not an opinion. Of course the gap would’ve been slightly different depending on the car handling, but Max is easily 0.3s/lap faster than Albon, so pole position for Williams isn’t a fantasy, it’s a reality if you have Max driving it.

        1. Especially in conditions like yesterday where the gap only seems to grow.

  3. Great Qualifying session! But if it’s dry tomorrow… I wonder how many will finish in the same lap as Verstappen, wouldn’t be surprised if he laps all but the top 5. It’s getting old but the gap between Perez and Verstappen is just painful to watch – with Albon adding insult to injury.

    1. The gap from front to back of the grid is possibly the smallest it’s ever been. Last race might have been the first time ever that – with no red or yellow flags – every driver finished on the same lap. So we’re likely to see relatively few cars getting lapped.

      Most years, you might have the backmarkers 0.7s behind the slow midfield cars, 0.7s behind the fast midfield cars, 0.7s behind the championship contenters. 0.2s behind the leader.

      This year you have the backmarkers 0.2s behind the slow midfield cars, 0.2s behind the fast midfield cars, 0.2s behind the best of the rest… 0.7s behind the leader. Through a combination of McLaren/Williams/Aston Martin performing above expectations, Red Bull improving as we’d have expected, and Ferrari/Mercedes disappointing.

      So we probably won’t see much lapping, but we might see Max drive away at the front.

      (numbers not precise, but you get the picture)

      1. Zandvoort is a very short track. Verstappen’s / Red Bull’s race pace is usually much beter than it’s qualifying pace compared to the competition. Qualifying has created a really interesting grid but it also means some of the guys with a quicker race pace will be stuck behind some slower cars for a good part of the race – Hamilton, Leclerc a.o. Withstanding a lot of safety-car and or yellow flag situations – I think we might see how dominating the Red Bull / Verstappen combination truly is (in front of the home crowd).

  4. Coventry Climax
    26th August 2023, 17:26

    I’ll admit it. I derive pleasure from seeing how Wolff’s face resembles the mug shot of a certain american Joker whose last name falsely suggests he’s a much better card in the stack.

  5. Quality,talent or circumstances.
    Ham 0,7 slower compared with Russell
    Check 1,3 slower compared with max.
    Leclerc again ….
    Enormous gaps.
    A very interesting session

    1. Mixed conditions and a drying track can do that. It’s tough to decide where and how hard to push.

      1. Those times were set under exact the same circumstances and at the same time, give or take a minute.

        1. A minute in a drying track can make a huge difference

  6. I don’t think I have ever seen a driver so consistent as Verstappen. Whatever the conditions are, he just delivers.
    He knows he’s in a fast car, but knows when he has do something extra, something special, when the conditions are tricky.

    Never been a fan of a particular driver, or a particular team, but what this young man achieves is outstanding.

    1. Yes, he was always fast, every single race, even the years before getting a top car, he used to make mistakes but pace was always there, and other top drivers haven’t always been as consistent, most recently hamilton.

  7. knocked out in 12th.

    Make it 13th, or are you afraid on the jinx?

  8. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    26th August 2023, 19:34

    How F1’s supporter demographic and class has changed since drive to survive and Liberty but the state of these comments above is ridiculous. This used to be a sport full of respect. Troll city now.

    1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      26th August 2023, 19:35

      Usually the anonymous non account comments mind.

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