Verstappen pips Leclerc for Dutch GP pole after season’s closest qualifying session

Red Bull's Max Verstappen claimed pole position of the 2022 Dutch GP by the smallest of margins

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Max Verstappen claimed his second pole in as many years at Zandvoort with the Red Bull Formula 1 driver starting first for the 2022 Dutch Grand Prix. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz would qualify second and third, 0.021 and 0.092 of a second behind the Dutchman respectively.

Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez would have a session to forget with the Mexican driver spinning off the circuit on his final run, meaning he will start fifth. His spin and the ensuing yellow flags effectively ruined the final runs of Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell who will start from fourth and sixth respectively.

However, given what transpired last week, Ferrari and the rest of the grid will be relieved to have closed the gap on Verstappen and Red Bull with tomorrow’s race set to be a much closer affair than last week’s race in Belgium.

Q3: Verstappen holds off Leclerc

Verstappen would lead the drivers out for the final part of qualifying. The Dutchman would set a time of 1.10.515, with Perez going second over five tenths away from his teammate. However, Verstappen would be displaced by Leclerc with the Monegasque driver topping the time sheets after the opening salvos. The championship protagonists would be joined by Hamilton who was third and Sainz in fourth.

As the drivers went out for the final runs, it was Leclerc who go the ball rolling improving his lap time, however, Verstappen would go quicker still pipping Leclerc by 0.021 with Sainz a further 0.092 of a second behind the Dutchman.

Perez would suffer a spin meaning the final part of qualifying was yellow flagged with Hamilton and Russell unable to improve their lap time as a consequence.

Lando Norris, Mick Schumacher, Yuki Tsunoda, and Lance Stroll rounding out the top 10.

Q2: Schumacher surprises

The session was interrupted by a red flag almost immediately when a flare made its way onto the circuit with Williams driver Alex Albon also complaining about a stray pigeon.

Once the session was restarted it was business as usual as Verstappen hit the top of the time sheets breaking the 1-minute and 10-second barrier on a set of used soft tyres. Hamilton would go second with Perez the third quickest as the drivers set their first lap times of the session.

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez exits the pit lane during qualifying for the 2022 Dutch GP Pool via REUTERS/Christian Bruna

With a little over six minutes to go, the drivers in the drop zone were Pierre Gasly, Esteban Ocon, Zhou Guanyu, Yuki Tsunoda, and Mick Schumacher. Albon would hold station in 10th before several cars went back on track to set their final runs in Q2.

Sainz would top the time sheets with Russell going second, Verstappen though would hold onto third despite opting to not run a second time. Haas’ Schumacher would make his way into Q3 for just the fourth time in his career with the German enjoying a great after.

However, for Gasly, Ocon, Fernando Alonso, Zhou, and Albon, their afternoons would come to an end as they dropped out of the qualifying session.

Q1: Ricciardo falters again

A bright and sunny day greeted the drivers with the action for the first part of the qualifying slow to get underway. The two Haas drivers were the first to make their way onto the circuit with Williams’ Albon and Nicholas Latifi following suit at around the 17-minute mark.

Verstappen was the first of the front runners to make his way onto the circuit with the Dutchman setting a lap time of 1.11.317, comfortably ahead of Ferrari’s Sainz and Leclerc, with Perez over a second off his team’s lap time.

Mercedes’ Russell and Hamilton would go second and third respectively with the Brackley-based outfit having a much better outing than last weekend.

As the track rubbered in the lap times came tumbling down Leclerc would go P2 with the likes of Latifi, Schumacher, Albon, Daniel Ricciardo, and Sebastian Vettel the drivers in the dropzone. However, with two minutes left, a raft of drivers made their way out of the pit lane with Albon the first to set a lap time and improve to seventh.

In the end, it was Valtteri Bottas, Kevin Magnussen, Ricciardo, Vettel and Laitifi who would fail to make it into Q2.

Rahul Sharan
Rahul Sharanhttps://total-motorsport.com
Motorsport journalist for Total-Motorsport.com
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