The Saturday in F1 Dutch GP saw rain play a major role but the end result saw Max Verstappen still on pole at his home event.

It wasn’t a smooth sailing on Saturday in F1 Dutch GP at Zandvoort where wet conditions played a major role in qualifying. It started off damp but by Q3, it was dry enough. The mixed conditions caught out multiple drivers including Charles Leclerc and Logan Sargeant.

It wasn’t a happy end to Leclerc especially when their direct rivals did well. McLaren’s Lando Norris was once on the tail of Red Bull’s Verstappen. The Dutchman eked out a lap in his final attempt to well ahead of the Brit, while teammate Sergio Perez was only seventh.

The mixed conditions once again was not the one for Perez and he will have his task cut out to make it on the podium where Norris will be one of key to beat. He has Mercedes’ George Russell too who did well with his set-up when Lewis Hamilton faltered.

The latter reckoned Russell’s set-up worked whereas his didn’t after changes. While Leclerc crashed out, teammate Carlos Sainz hung on to sixth but they both finished behind Williams’ Alexander Albon who secured his best F1 qualifying result of 2023.

Verstappen: “It was quite slippery out there. So, it was easy to make a mistake or whatever, especially on the new tarmac, so Sector One, Sector Three was quite slippery. And especially on the Intermediates, in the beginning, to get the temperature and get going was a bit difficult. And you had to do a few laps to get into a rhythm and have the tyres up to temperature. And then of course, we were getting closer to Q3, it was drying out. I initially didn’t think it was going to be dry enough but I think with the wind around here, and then the sun coming out, it actually dried faster than I expected. So, I went out on the Inter and then quickly realised that was the wrong tyre. So we boxed, put the slick on but then unfortunately, of course, there was a red flag. But it was still very tricky, I think, conditions in Turns One and Two at the time, like only one proper dry line.

“So, it’s easy to get to make a mistake. And then, of course, we had a bit of a delay. And then, of course, also Charles had his moment. So, at one point, the dry line was becoming a bit wider. So, that, I think, helped a bit. But then again, you know, you have to really get a bit out of your comfort zone in that final lap because it’s still not entirely dry everywhere. But luckily the lap was good. I think in general, when you have the pace in the car, you can overtake even though, of course, on this track is a little bit harder than maybe on some other tracks. But if you’re really faster, you will be able to pass. But it’s always nice in front of your home crowd, you know, to take pole position. I mean, they come here, and they expect you to do it but it’s not always that easy. And especially with a qualifying like this. It’s never that straightforward and you always need to be out at the right time. But luckily, we did that.”

Norris: “I thought there was a chance at least. I knew my lap in Q3, Run 1 was decent but I knew everyone’s going to improve a huge amount. I knew there was plenty of places and time for me to gain on that lap. So, it’s difficult because even when you think you’re doing… you know, I was one second up after already, what, six corners, seven corners? It gets you a bit excited. But you know, everyone else is probably doing a similar thing. So, my first half a lap was very good, my second half was pretty terrible. I had a double shift out of Turn 10, which probably cost me a couple of tenths, but at the same time, nothing would have got me enough to get past Max. He did a good job. These conditions, where you hope something might come your way and it didn’t today, but P2 was a good result for us. I’ll challenge him probably two laps in the race, then he’ll drive away. I think there’s quite a bit of tyre degradation here and not our forte, let’s say, when it comes into play, we start to struggle quite a bit in certain corners. But we’ve improved the car quite a bit, I think, since Friday, so I want to be a little bit more hopeful. I’m not going to say no, like I’m not going to give it a try, but Max is always on another level when it comes to Sunday, in tyre degradation and race pace. So, there’s opportunities, but it’s going to be tough.”

Russell: “Yeah, very satisfied to be honest. Qualifying was one of my strengths at the start of the year and generally a session that I really enjoyed but the last few races before the break had been a real struggle for me. Things were pretty scrappy and was never really going towards us and had some bad sessions so it was good to have the little break, coming into this weekend with a fresh set of eyes: a good reset. And really please just to get back in the groove and put in a good performance. I think it’s going to be a good race. As Lando said, a lot of tyre degradation so it gives you a few opportunities with the strategy. I don’t think we’ll have the pace to fight with Max. As Lando said, he’s a bit of a league of his own at the moment, but I’m confident Lando and I can have a good fight. Obviously great to see Alex there in P4. He’ll probably be in the mix at the beginning of the race and then we’ll have to see the progress of Checo. He’s probably going to be the next threat from behind.”

Hamilton: “I did two fast laps at the end and the tyres overheated, so I couldn’t improve on the last lap. The same as I just qualified, which wasn’t really good. Hopefully when the car’s a little bit heavier [with fuel], maybe we’ll be able to progress forward. It’s not an easy track to move forwards on, but tomorrow’s a new day, so I’ll give it my best tomorrow. We did make some changes thinking it was going in the right direction, but it just didn’t work. George went in a different direction and it seemed to have worked for him.”

Leclerc: “I mean, I had two laps consecutive there and I tried to give it [my] all, but unfortunately it didn’t work out. We’ve had a very difficult balance and a very difficult car to drive all weekend. There, I lost the front, then the rear, and I just couldn’t go around the corner, so it’s like this. We don’t have [any] yet, no. We definitely need to look into it because we’re struggling a lot with the car balance especially – it makes it very difficult for us.”

Albon: “A good one I have to say. Very unexpected but not in a way of the weekend itself. I feel like FP1, FP2, FP3, we’ve had good pace, but just the whole weekend. Pre-Thursday flying out here I was not expecting this, I don’t think any of us were. And the pace has just been dynamite. Since FP1, it has been very strong. We need to understand why honestly. In my head it doesn’t make that much sense why we’ve been that quick. There is one thing for sure is that this track you need confidence. [You] need to feel good in the car. The car needs to be, not easy to drive, but you need to feel like you are in that flow state. With these changeable conditions especially, that adds another layer on top. The first lap in FP1 I felt good in the car and when these kind of interchangeable conditions come, I don’t think peak downforce is that important. It’s more just about just being able to use the grip and getting onto the limit of the car. The car has been feeling good. It’s been very special.”

The Top 10 had Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso in fifth who did his job quietly while teammate Lance Stroll missed out in 11th. The late push from Sargeant denied the Canadian a Q3 place. The American’s joy turned sour after his early crash.

It wasn’t a great outing for the likes of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, all of whom were knocked out in Q1. The Dane admitted his FP3 off led to lack of preparation to be knocked out so in the first session itself.

Bottas was confused by the lack of pace after looking good in practice when his teammate Zhou Guanyu managed to finish ahead of him. It was also a big day for AlphaTauri’s Liam Lawson who even though was 20th, but was happy with the learning curve.

Alonso: “It wasn’t an easy Qualifying session today in the wet and the dry, so we have to be happy to qualify fifth for tomorrow’s race. It was very intense and there was a very small margin for error with the narrow track, so it was very challenging. In these types of conditions, you have no idea what happened in the previous seven minutes you were in the garage, so it can be a little bit of a guess, but we did very well today. The upgrades seem to be working well and it has been a great job by everyone in the Campus who have been working flat-out to bring these updates this weekend.”

Sargeant: “I have mixed emotions and it’s definitely bittersweet. To make Q3 is a huge thing for us. There are so many positives to take; the team and car have been fantastic all weekend and I delivered good laps when they counted in Q1 and Q2 to get there. It felt like we had a good chance going into a dry last session, and Alex proved that with his result, but it’s fine margins in these conditions. I need to look back and see what went wrong, but not dwell on it because our long run pace here has been great. We’ll get the car rebuilt as close as we can and try to score some points. I’ve personally seen progress the entire European leg and I know it is just a matter of time; I’m really close now, starting to understand how to extract the time from the car and that’s what makes today even more painful. I’m disappointed to leave the team with a damaged car but I’ll reset, help the team and we’ll go again tomorrow.”

Ocon: “Unfortunately, it’s not been a good day for us today. It’s the first time I’ve been out in Q1 this season, so that is very disappointing. On track the conditions were tricky for everyone and on our side, we struggled in many areas, especially with general stability and in high-speed corners. We have some work to do to analyse what happened today and see what we can do to put ourselves in a stronger position in tomorrow’s race. I have started in lower positions before and came back to score points, so that remains the target and we will fight all the way to the end to make our way into the top ten and into the points.”

Lawson: “Firstly, I feel for Daniel in this situation, and it’s not something you want to see, especially to someone as nice as him, and I hope he recovers quickly. Any chance you get to race in Formula 1, you will grab with both hands, so I’m very excited about the opportunity I have been given. There are lots of emotions because it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was three years old. Today has been very hectic, with very tricky conditions. It was my first time driving on the intermediate tyres during the first session, and it was different to what I expected, but I felt like I was getting somewhere and learning how the tyres behaved. During qualifying, I was feeling comfortable and like I was gaining a lot, but then it rained again, and I expected the grip to drop, but I was surprised by how high it stayed, so for sure, I didn’t maximise everything.

“I feel comfortable in the car, but with these conditions, it’s tricky to learn this track in the car. Physically, I feel ok now, but with wet track conditions, it’s not as physically demanding as the dry, so I expect it to be more tough during the race. This track is definitely a tricky one, bumpy in some places and takes confidence, which is difficult for me to pick up so quickly. If it’s dry tomorrow, I’m going to be learning many new things because I haven’t driven the car in fully dry conditions yet and haven’t done any long runs on dry compound tyres. I’ll just learn as much as possible and hang on.”

Magnussen: “I set myself up for it a little bit by damaging the car in FP3 and not getting any wet laps in before qualifying. I tried my best in qualifying but it wasn’t fast enough to get into Q2. We damaged the new front wing in FP3 so unfortunately, we can’t use it for the rest of the weekend and I think it helped, so we’ll just have to try and make do in the race.”

Bottas: “We had been in the top ten in every session so far, so to go out in Q1 is hugely frustrating. I am puzzled, because the feeling in the car was quite similar to FP3, our laps were good, but we are ten places further away from where we were earlier. The conditions on track were tricky but not too dissimilar from earlier in the day, so I have no explanation for this: tyre warmup seems to be the biggest issue, but we need to find some more answers ahead of tomorrow. The race won’t be easy, starting in 19th, but we will give it all: hopefully qualifying was an outlier, and if it’s a wet race, we could get an eventful one and make up some places.”

Here’s how F1 Dutch GP qualifying panned out