Max Verstappen delights Dutch GP fans after taking pole position ahead of Lewis Hamilton

Red Bull driver takes seventh pole of the season just 0.038 seconds ahead of the championship leader

Red Bull's Max Verstappen produced a scintillating performance in qualifying on Saturday to claim pole position for Sunday's Dutch Grand Prix, edging championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

Roared on by the home crowd, Dutchman Verstappen, who trails defending champion Hamilton by three points in the title race, was just 0.038 seconds quicker than the Mercedes driver, who joins him on the front row on the Zandvoort circuit's first race since 1985.

"It's an amazing feeling to get pole position here," Verstappen, 23, said after taking his seventh pole of the season and 10th overall. "The crowd is incredible. Today was good, I hope we can finish this off."

Hamilton's Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas will start third on the grid, but it was a disastrous qualifying for Verstappen's fellow Red Bull driver Sergio Perez, who failed to get out of Q1 and will start in 16th.

Alpha Tauri's Pierre Gasly joins Bottas on the second row, while Ferrari pair Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr start from the third row after qualifying fifth and sixth respectively.

In the first part of qualifying, Leclerc and Sainz were 1-2 with Verstappen third, while Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, the four-time F1 champion, was among the five drivers eliminated after being stuck behind slower cars.

Verstappen’s legions of fans cheered again when he finished top of Q2 ahead of Leclerc. A red flag came out a few minutes before the end of that session when Williams driver George Russell slid backward off the track and into some gravel.

Moments after Q2 restarted, another red flag came out when Russell's teammate Nicholas Latifi lost control and slammed into the tyre wall.

Ferrari just repaired Sainz’s car in time for qualifying after he slid sideways off track on the high-speed Turn 3 and into the crash barriers about 20 minutes into the session.

Q3 saw McLaren driver Lando Norris and Haas driver Mick Schumacher go off into the gravel, while Leclerc took evasive action late on when he swerved sharply left to avoid two cars in front of him.

But the qualifying session belonged to Verstappen and his legion of orange-clad fans, who stood and roared when he went past the main grandstand area and sealed pole.

"It was so close. First I want to say a big thank you to all the orange fans, the Dutch fans, what an amazing venue, what an amazing track. Great support from the fans here and I appreciate it," said Hamilton, who was well received by the Dutch fans having been jeered at the previous three races after he sent Verstappen crashing out of the British GP with a risky overtaking move.

"It's a difficult circuit to overtake, but what a place for us to be racing. Strategy will come into it and it's great to see so many people here. Hopefully the track provides a great race."

Updated: September 4th 2021, 3:22 PM
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