Max Verstappen on pole – but it was closer than expected; Lewis Hamilton just 0.038s off his title rival, Valtteri Bottas on second row with on-form Pierre Gasly; Both Williams drivers crashed in Q2, Sergio Perez and Sebastian Vettel out in Q1
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 04/09/21 3:46pm
Max Verstappen will start his home Dutch Grand Prix on pole ahead of Lewis Hamilton after another pulsating and ultra-close battle between Formula 1’s title rivals in Saturday’s qualifying.
Delighting the masses of passionate orange-clad fans in Zandvoort’s first qualifying since 1985, Verstappen was in majestic form throughout the session – nailing lap after lap right into the final stages of Q3, when his record-setting 1:08.885 appeared to seal a comfortable pole for Red Bull.
But Hamilton so nearly snatched what would have been an unlikely, and unpopular, fastest time with the very last lap as the Mercedes driver, despite his disrupted weekend, somehow got close to Verstappen.
Hamilton and Verstappen, who are separated by only three points in the championship, were split by just 0.038s at the end of qualifying.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Verstappen, who can take the title lead with a win.
“Max did an amazing lap and I was so close,” added Hamilton, amid a largely positive reception from fans albeit with a smattering of boos. “I was trying to catch him.”
Valtteri Bottas, who led Hamilton before the final Q3 laps, finished three tenths back in third, and he will share the second row on Sunday with Pierre Gasly – one of Saturday’s star performers in the AlphaTauri.
Gasly beat both fancied Ferraris, with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz fifth and sixth.
More to follow.