The Saturday in F1 Dutch GP was dramatic again with multiple red flag period and controversies along with a home hero on pole.
The Saturday in F1 Dutch GP saw more red flag stoppages, but eventually Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took pole ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by just the 0.038s margin. Even the Dutchman only had a purple sector 2 on his final lap, it was enough to edge out his title rival for, to set-up another front-row encounter on Sunday.
Considering that Zandvoort is tough track to overtake, for Verstappen to be on pole is a good advantage. However, teammate Sergio Perez will be mostly starting from the pitlane, after Red Bull deciding to put in all the new parts to see-through the 2021 season.
This will allow Mercedes with a double attack on Verstappen after Valtteri Bottas ended up third. But both of them are wary of Red Bull’s race pace, which will be the deciding factor. For Red Bull, though, it will be difficult to score as many points with Perez behind.
Verstappen: “My DRS was not open? I don’t know! For me, the problem started earlier out of Turn 3. It’s quite bumpy and I had a double-shift, and I was two-tenths up on my lap and then I lost one and a half tenths, all the way to Turn 7. And then you also use more energy, because you’re a gear higher, and so I de-rated as well. So, I don’t know. I need to check. I was not aware that my DRS was closed to the line – but it’s not very long.
“Was there a bit more time in it? Luckily it was enough for pole so yeah, I’ll have a look at it because I didn’t know. Looking at the race, it’s still very difficult to pass around here, even in qualifying everyone was trying to find the gap, not like some other tracks where everyone is trying to find the tow. I do think it’s going to be tough, but also it’s quite tough on tyres around here with all the high-speed corners, so it’s not a very straightforward race. There are a lot of laps around here but of course it’s important to up front.
“As for Lap 1, I guess time will tell – but I think as drivers you always try to do the best start you can to Turn 1 and then see what happens afterwards. Yeah. I mean, like I said, everyone always tries to do their best right? On the first lap to just try and gain a position of defend a position. Depends where you are at.”
Hamilton: “Max has been incredibly fast through the first sector and that’s an area where we’ve really been working hard at improving with the car balance over the night and through P3 into qualifying, and just slowly chipping away at it. It’s a circuit where you need to continue to chip away and build that confidence – but the lap was… particularly the second and third sector, the third sector was really on the edge, you saw the last corner, there wasn’t any road left, so I was really, really happy with it.
“I think it’s great that we were able to get that close, because obviously they pulled quite far ahead at one point pace-wise. I still think, if we had another session, again, we would all go quicker and I think there’s more time to find. I haven’t done any long running, so I don’t really know too much of what the track’s like with heavy fuel. I only have my reference from 2005 and I don’t remember that! No doubt it’s going to be tough tomorrow. Just from watching these guys, I think Max and his team were quicker than us, I think, on the long run – but it’s not a track that you can particularly overtake in, so it’s going to be strategy tomorrow and how you can utilise the tyres. The start will be fun.”
Perez: “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.”
Behind the Top 3, it was AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly managing to beat both the Ferrari drivers, with Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi getting the better of both the Alpine and also McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, with his teammate Lando Norris out in Q2 after he couldn’t improve due to the double red flag stoppage for Williams duo.
Even for Giovinazzi’s teammate, Robert Kubica, although 18th, did well considering he hasn’t had much time in a F1 car apart from the FP1 sessions. In the Top 10, though, it will be interesting, especially in the Ferrari vs McLaren battle.
Gasly: “Honestly it’s been a really good afternoon for us. Yesterday… we didn’t look great, and also this morning, not ideal. But for whatever reason the car felt great in quali; I managed to find some extra time going into quali and unbelievable – to qualify ahead of the two Ferraris for us is really good.”
Sainz: “It was crazy. To see the mechanics work at that pace to get me back out, it’s one of the most impressive things I’ve seen as a racing driver. It was high tension but also you could see everyone was just focused on my car to try and get it back out, and they did it, so this one is for them. I honestly admire them a lot for what they’ve done today and I hope that I can pay them back tomorrow with a good result and already today with a good quali. It’s a good result, especially after what I suffered in FP3. The crash obviously takes out quite a bit of confidence, the pressure in the minutes prior to Q1, not knowing if I was going to go out – it was probably one of the most challenging qualis of the season, and of my life really with all the pressure going on there. But we managed to recover well and in Q3, I missed by thousandths being able to be in the top five, so it was a strong recovery and I have to be proud of it.”
Giovinazzi: “The aim is keep the position. We start from a good position in P7, I know something can happen in the front so we’ll see, but for sure the target is to keep P7. This year is really difficult to understand what track can be for us, yesterday from FP1 it felt the car is here and we had a good pace, it helps build up confidence with the track and the car and you can put it together in quali. For sure it will help but we know how it is Formula 1, I did my best, the race is tomorrow, but we did the right way. It’s been like this from 2019 – September for me is quite busy. But I say many times if I do my job I will keep my seat and this is what I did in the last two years.”
Kubica: “You are prepared because it’s written in your contract and you know your position very well. But to be honest maybe I’m too old but I never really thought it might happen. Of course you know there is a chance it happens but you don’t really want it to happen because in the end it would mean something happens with your team mate. But that’s part of the game, part of my position in the team. It’s difficult to say you’re prepared when you are jumping in the car every three or four months. Especially this year I struggled more with the car. Last year I had much more confidence, I was able to not drive for three months, jump in and within a couple of laps I was on the pace – even surprisingly good on the pace.
“This year a combination of tyres probably, cars, also I think today is quite windy. So you have to learn the track, the grip was coming and going, it is not an easy track. For sure if it would be in Bahrain everything would be much more simple, but we are in Zandvoort and I am quite happy. The reality is that for the third time I’m back on the F1 grid. I think it’s also a combination of what car I’m driving in the other series. The last time I did qualifying was last year, the last race of DTM, so I have not even been in qualifying once this year. But the last run was a real shame because I really felt like I could improve a lot and was looking forward, but I had a lot of traffic on the out lap at a very slow pace.”
Norris: “Not the day I wanted or that we were expecting – I just didn’t do the best job. I didn’t feel too confident in qualifying to hook it all up and put it together. It’s probably the closest qualifying we’ve had all year. It’s a shame as this is the race we really needed to be strong, but we just didn’t manage it. We also didn’t get that last opportunity to try again because of the red flag. It’s going to make our day tomorrow very tricky, but I think we’re definitely quicker than a few other cars ahead of us, so hopefully we can still score some points.”
The F1 Dutch GP qualifying not only had the red flag dramas, but the end of Q1 saw Perez and Vettel being knocked, with the latter facing Haas duo jostling for places. It was Nikita Mazepin trying to retake the spot on the grid from Mick Schumacher after the latter overtook him on the outlap, where the Russian believed, he was not allowed to. This led to quite the verbal spat between the two separately in their media sessions.
While their drama ensued, the Williams duo were knocked in Q2 due to separate incidents, with George Russell seeing a lighter one but Nicholas Latifi heaving a heavy one to damage quite many parts, whereby he is set to a five-place drop on the gearbox side.
Vettel: “It was a mess. There’s nobody to blame it’s just a lot of cars that cannot manage, it’s obviously not ideal but it is what it is. We went not much faster than in practice. It should’ve been a decent step.”
Mazepin: “We had a discussion in the team about what happened. And I think after that discussion there is one clear thing that’s left: the system that I was told in Imola is not the case any more. I’m not sure when it changed and how it changed. So we need to find a system that works because I’m not going to give in, he doesn’t want to give in. So we need to find a ruling procedure, which both of us have to apply to, not when each of us wants. We need to find a procedure that each driver has to apply to all the time with a must.
“We are a young team, as everybody says. So I think we will get better, improve, understand and become stronger from it. To be fair to Mick, I was very upset because I was overtaken when I wasn’t supposed to be overtaken, and then he backed me up into Vettel. But in all fairness to him, he didn’t know that Vettel was coming. It goes a little bit towards the direction that he didn’t back me up on purpose.
“But I, on the other hand, knew that he was coming and I needed to get out of the way. So I moved to the inside but with Mick braking and making a gap to Latifi, there was nowhere to go. You’re always going to end up in some sort of trouble when seven cars are travelling at 30kph and a fast car is arriving at 300. But it’s been a very stressful 20 minutes of my life.”
Schumacher: “It was messy trying to get the lap and everything and for the last run when we went out there were a few cars in front in the pit lane which were stationery and were taking a lot of time to get out of the pit lane I think that basically created the confusion on the last corner. My tyres were quite cold that´s why I requested to the team to overtake Nikita I got the Ok cause I needed more temperature for some reason compared to Nikita, I did so and obviously I went up and on the last corner I was unfortunately not advised that there was a pushing car behind me so I didn’t know there was Sebastian coming behind me and at that moment you are quite focused on whatever you have to do in your cockpit so I was obviously checking my mirrors but I didn’t know there was a car coming so I wasn’t looking up for any quick cars.
“My radio communication was clear that I was allowed to overtake him as long as it was before turn three. And I did so. I’ve been running behind him for the whole part of the weekend and it’s been quite clear already since FP3 that I needed for some reason a faster out-lap compared to him to warm up my tyres. I know the communication I have been given and told which has given me the okay so obviously, in that sense, I don’t understand his frustration at that particular moment. On the other hand, if he hasn’t been given that communication, possibly yes.
“And that was quite noticeable in the first two runs where in turn 13 basically I have nearly no grip. I needed a faster lap and Nikita didn’t, so that’s why I asked. I requested and I did get the okay. I didn’t try to impede him or make his life difficult. I was just trying to make my life a bit easier by having the opportunity to go faster. I also overtook Lando around the lap to try and get even more heat in. I know he is quite vocal about a few things in the press but I think for us, we talk to the team internally about it.
Latifi: “We were not expecting even to get out of Q1. It was going to be a challenge to get out of Q1 based on what we showed yesterday. So we did a different strategy using most of our tyres in Q1 and in the end, I think we could have got through on two like we normally do. The pace was actually quite strong and unfortunately my only new set was the first red flag in Q2 so that kind of wasted that set.
“Surprisingly, at the end there I went out on another new set of tyres and I was improving my lap time compared to what I did in Q1 which was on the Q3 cut-off. People would have probably improved but it would have been a decent lap and I kind of said I had nothing to lose, I might lose the tyres in the end but just go for it or I’m just going to be P15 anyway. I just misjudged the turn-in point and clipped the grass.”
Russell: “Unfortunately, I made a mistake on my final run. I was pushing to my maximum and I was on a really good lap but the rear tyres were right on the limit. I just attacked the final corner too hard and lost the rear of the car, as I knew it would be tight for getting into Q3. We picked up a little bit of damage on the rear suspension but thankfully the gearbox is fine, and it’s nothing that the guys and girls won’t be able to fix overnight. At that point, the lap would have been good enough to promote me into the top-10 so apologies to the team as that is not how I wanted to finish my qualifying session. It’s a circuit that everyone is really going to struggle to overtake at and nobody knows how the tyres are going to react, so it will be interesting to see how the race pans out tomorrow.”
Here’s the video of Haas incident: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2021-dutch-gp-qualifying-mazepin-and-schumacher-disagree-over-vettel-block.1709987488438590846.html
Here’s how F1 Dutch GP qualifying panned out