Max Verstappen puts gearbox disaster behind him to take pole for Dutch Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton starting fourth
MAX VERSTAPPEN delivered the goods in front of 105,000 orange-clad fans by putting his Red Bull on pole position for the Dutch Grand Prix.
The Dutchman’s weekend got off to a bumpy start when he missed a large chunk of practice on Friday following a gearbox failure.
But the championship leader made a fine return to form on Saturday as he planted his car on pole for the second race in a row and for the 11th time this season.
His qualifying time of 1:10.342 was enough to pip Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to pole by 0.021 seconds.
Carlos Sainz took third, one place ahead of Lewis Hamilton, while Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who spun in the closing stages, finished fifth with George Russell in sixth.
The reigning world champion sits 93 points clear of second place Perez, while Leclerc sits 98 points adrift.
After a poor return at the Belgian Grand Prix, Hamilton and Mercedes look back in fighting shape, with the twisty Zandvoort track better suited to their machinery.
But both Hamilton and Russell failed to improve with their final runs after Perez’s late spin saw the yellow flags deployed in the final sector.
Further down the order news had been dominated by the decision of the Contract Recognition Board to allow Alpine reserve driver Oscar Piastri to join McLaren next season.
But it was once again a poor day at the office for the man the former F3 and F2 champion will replace – Daniel Ricciardo.
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The eight-time grand prix winner failed to make it out of Q1 and will line up in 18th place for Sunday’s race, while team-mate Lando Norris qualified seventh in the other McLaren.
However, Norris’ grid slot is in doubt after Yuki Tsunoda had to slam on the brakes to avoid a pit-lane collision with the Briton. The stewards are investigating the incident.
Mick Schumacher enjoyed an impressive Saturday in his Haas car and was rewarded with a P8 finish, while Tsunoda and Lance Stroll complete the top 10.
Sebastian Vettel, who announced his retirement earlier in the season, ran off the track and into the gravel in Q1, and will line up in 19th place.
Qualifying was suspended for six minutes after an orange flare was thrown on to the track.
A spokesperson for the governing FIA said the individual responsible was “identified and removed by event security”.
A second flare landed on the track in Q3 but the battle for pole was able to continue without an additional stoppage.
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