Title rivals share front row for Dutch GP
By Mat Coch
Sunday 5th September, 2021 - 12:28am
Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton will share the front row for the Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix.
The pair were split by just 0.038s at the end of qualifying, Verstappen taking pole over his championship rival.
It marked a strong fightback from Hamilton after the local favourite looked to have top spot in the bag throughout the session.
The early pace belonged to Verstappen, a 1:10.036s to shoot to the top with his first run.
Mercedes both had its drivers out on a set of the medium compound tyres, Hamilton second fastest with his first timed lap on a 1:10.183s.
The championship leader remained on track for another push lap, setting a personal best to the first split.
He maintained that speed through the second sector too, crossing the line with a 1:10.114s to marginally improve on his first lap.
It kept him in second, Bottas rising to third with a 1:10.219s, still using a set of the yellow-walled tyres.
With three minutes remaining, the field began to head back out for their final Q1 run, Daniel Ricciardo languishing in 17th with a 1:10.914s.
The Australian’s last-gasp effort saw him improve on his earlier lap, climbing to sixth with a 1:10.255s.
It was enough to guarantee himself a place in Qualifying 2, the same could not be said for Sergio Perez as the Red Bull driver missed the cut.
Sebastian Vettel, Robert Kubica, and the Haas pair of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin also failed to make the grade, while Lando Norris snuck through with 15th.
Traffic was a critical problem, Mazepin baulking Vettel badly at the penultimate corner in an incident that stewards confirmed they’d investigate after the session.
Perez’s fate was sealed by his inability to start a lap before the chequered flag was shown, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix winner lamenting traffic in the pit lane as he headed out for his final effort.
At the top of the sheets, Verstappen’s time had fallen to both Ferraris, with Charles Leclerc quickest on 1:09.829s ahead of Carlos Sainz – who was lucky to make qualifying following a Practice 3 crash – second with 1:10.022s.
Mercedes opted for soft compound tyres at the start of Qualifying 2, Hamilton and Bottas heading out early as did Verstappen.
The Red Bull driver recorded a 1:09.071s to opening proceedings, a second faster than he’d managed in the earlier segment.
Bottas was capable of only a 1:09.769s as he slotted in second, which became third when Hamilton set a 1:09.726s.
Running slightly off-sequence were the two Ferraris, Leclerc second fastest with a 1:09.437s set with eight minutes left in the segment.
Ricciardo ran a similar programme, his first Q2 lap ending with a 1:09.985s and sixth best, 0.6s clear of team-mate Norris who found himself 13th.
A red flag was shown with four minutes remaining when George Russell lost control at the penultimate corner.
On a fast lap, the Williams driver skated through the gravel and rear-ended the tyre barrier, though was able to drive the car away from the crash and back to the pits.
The stoppage lasted for 10 minutes, Nicholas Latifi and Verstappen queuing at pit exit as the session resumed.
Russell was unable to continue in the session, while Antonio Giovinazzi remained in the garage as his Sauber crew worked on the front-right corner of his car.
It was a brief resumption, however, as another red flag was shown when Latifi crashed heavily at Turn 8.
The Canadian hit the barriers with his left-rear of after dipping his front-left wheel off the track at turn in.
With less than two minutes, the session was not resumed, condemning Russell, Lance Stroll, Norris, Latifi, and Yuki Tsunoda.
All 10 remaining drivers headed out as Qualifying 3 commenced, teams looking to bank an early time in an effort to cover off the risk of red flags later in proceedings.
Ricciardo was the first on track, the McLaren driver recording a 1:10.524s at the first time of asking.
It was a sluggish lap, evidenced by Verstappen’s 1:08.923s moments later.
Neither Bottas nor Hamilton could get within 0.3s of the Red Bull driver’s lap, the Finn second ahead of the championship leader in third.
Pierre Gasly shot to an impressive fourth over the two Ferraris, Ricciardo slipping to ninth after the first runs were complete.
A lull in proceedings was broken with three minutes remaining, another traffic jam forming in pit exit – some drivers coming to a complete stop.
Verstappen improved on his early effort, setting a 1:08.885s to all but confirm himself on pole as the chequered flag fell.
He did so by his fingernails though, Hamilton claiming second with a 1:08.923s, just 0.038s off his title rival’s pole time.
Bottas fell to third while Gasly hung on to fourth ahead of Leclerc and Sainz, then the surprise of the session with Giovinazzi in seventh.
Ricciardo improved on his banker lap, but a 1:10.166s was only good enough for 10th behind Esteban Ocon in eighth and Alonso ninth.
The Dutch Grand Prix gets underway at 23:00 AEST on Sunday.
Results: Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix, Qualifying
|1||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||1:10.036||1:09.071||1:08.885|
|4||10||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1:10.274||1:09.541||1:09.478|
|7||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1:10.050||1:10.033||1:09.590|
|12||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||1:10.438||1:10.367|
|15||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1:10.462||1:11.314|
|16||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing||1:10.530|
|17||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||1:10.731|
|18||88||Robert Kubica||Alfa Romeo||1:11.301|