Dutch delight as Verstappen beats Hamilton to pole for Dutch Grand Prix

The orange flares, Dutch flags and a sea of cheering orange clad fans said it all, as home favourite Max Verstappen grabbed pole position ahead of rival Lewis Hamilton for the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort.

It had been 36 years since the last running of the Dutch Grand Prix, won by Niki Lauda, and Verstappen was determined not to let his ‘Orange Army’ down – a superb final lap meaning he beat Hamilton by just 0.038s with Valtteri Bottas third ahead of the brilliant Pierre Gasly.

“An amazing feeling of course to get pole position here,” said Verstappen afterward. “The crowd was incredible and today was also very enjoyable. The car was really nice to drive and this track as well in qualifying also really cool.

“It’s the best starting position, we know passing is difficult and I don’t expect it to be an easy race with a lot of laps around here. The tyres are struggling through the high speeds but today was good, so of course I hope we can finish it off tomorrow.”

With only three points separating the leading protagonists in this most thrilling of F1 championship seasons to date, Hamilton is not going to make it an easy task for Verstappen despite the wave of support that his rival will receive.

A mighty final sector almost got the job done, but the Mercedes driver also knows that tactics will play a big role on Sunday, especially as he has his teammate right behind him on the grid.

“So close. So close,” reflected Hamilton after stepping from his car, whilst also paying tribute to a partizan Orange Army. “Firstly I really want to say a big thank you to all the orange fans here, the Dutch fans. What an amazing venue, what an amazing track, I really do genuinely love coming to this country and I really do appreciate the welcome. There are great sporting fans here and it’s just been good, I really appreciate it.

“Max did an amazing lap, and I was so close. I was trying to catch him but obviously with yesterday’s session missed made it a bit difficult of a day, but I gave it absolutely everything and he did a fantastic lap and deserves the pole.”

The qualifying session was certainly not without its fair share of drama, Belgian Grand Prix hero George Russell losing control of his Williams into the final corner when he looked to be on a superb lap to take him into Q3. And when the session restarted, it was teammate Nicholas Latifi who caused another red flag, losing control and also clattering through the gravel and into the barriers.

Another big casualty of qualifying was the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez, the Mexican leaving it too late to get in a meaningful lap and lining up 16th on the grid. The Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz are well placed to pounce on the third row of the grid, the duo ahead of the impressive Antonio Giovinazzi and Hungarian GP race winner Esteban Ocon as Fernando Alonso and Daniel Ricciardo round out the top ten.

“It’s a difficult circuit to overtake but what a place for us to be racing,” added Hamilton. “Strategy will obviously come into it a lot but we’re going to see a crowd like this. We haven’t seen a crowd like this in a while so it’s really great to see so many people here and I hope tomorrow the track will help us provide a good race, it’s a very, very tough circuit which makes it so fantastic to drive.”

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.