Max Verstappen has stormed to a stunning pole position in front of thousands of ecstatic Dutch fans at his home grand prix in Zandvoort, edging out the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
“It feels great to be on pole position and of course it makes it even more satisfying when it’s at one of your home races. Everyone was going crazy each time I crossed the line and it’s amazing to see people having the time of their lives in the grandstands. I’ve had so much fun already from FP1 driving this track and in qualifying when you’re on low fuel it’s just incredible. Sector two and the banked corners, plus the last corner where you’re flat, it’s a nice sensation and it’s just so enjoyable to drive. It’s an old school track that is flowing and fast like Suzuka where you really feel the grip of a Formula One car, it’s challenging and I enjoy tracks like this. Today we worked really well as a Team and took another good step forward with the car compared to yesterday. Qualifying was quite tricky with the red flags, you could see there was no room for error which is nice and makes it more exciting, but my lap itself was good. There were two occasions where I lost some time, first with a double upshift coming out of Turn 3 where it is very bumpy, and then my DRS didn’t open coming out of the last corner which we need to look into, but fortunately the lap was enough for pole. Of course at this track it’s important to be starting from out in front because it’s very difficult to overtake here so the start will be key and then we need to look after our tyres and be on alert because new tracks can often bring chaos. I expect Mercedes to be strong, you could see the gap was close today, so tomorrow isn’t as straightforward as it seems,” said Verstappen.
With his teammate flying, it was a disappointing day for Sergio Perez who was eliminated in Q1 after not making it out of the pitlane with enough time to come around and begin a flying lap.
“I’m really disappointed today because we had such a fantastic car going into qualifying. We were making great progress and could have had two cars up there tomorrow, possibly locking out the front row and so we really didn’t expect to be in this position. We were just so unlucky at the end, people were going so slow in the pit lane and I didn’t manage to get my second lap in, I missed it by just one second and a half. We’ll discuss today together as a group and see what we can learn for the next race as this is how we get stronger as a Team. We know tomorrow will be really difficult to overtake, but this is an unpredictable track, no one knows what to expect and so of course I will try and minimise the damage and score something for the Team,” added Perez.
For team boss Christian Horner it was a day of mixed emotions, but he was ultimately over the moon to see his Dutch prodigy on pole at home.
“It was an amazing performance by Max under massive pressure in front of his home crowd to become the first Dutchman to take pole position at a Dutch Grand Prix. Max has got a lot of racing experience behind him now and the way he deals with pressure has been outstanding in recent years and he’s done a great job today. It’s a tough track to overtake at and he’s in the best place to start tomorrow’s race so the first part of the job is done. With Sergio, we sent him out in Q3 with enough time to go but then everyone backed up in the Pit Lane which ultimately cost him and he just missed out on getting another run by a second and a half. It was massively frustrating for him and the Team so we’ll have to fight back tomorrow. Looking at the start, we have the two Mercedes directly behind Max so they’ll be able to split their options so it’s important we just get our heads down and focus on our own race,” concluded Horner.