Max Verstappen clocked an unmatched 1 minute 10.567 seconds lap during the climactic seconds of Q3, securing his third straight pole in front of his home crowd.
Before a red flag—thanks to Charles Leclerc’s unplanned rendezvous with the barriers—brought qualifying to a temporary halt, McLaren had been leading the pack. But Verstappen was determined to give his local fans something to cheer about. He unleashed a blistering lap that set an imposing mark for others to match.
Lando Norris looked promising initially, even outpacing Verstappen in the first sector. But he lost crucial seconds in the middle of his lap, ultimately torpedoing his chances at stealing the pole.
The qualifying session was already a rollercoaster, heightened by drying track conditions. The twin red flags culminated in a mad dash for the final laps in a compressed four-minute showdown.
The first red flag of Q3 was waved after Logan Sargeant crashed spectacularly at Turn 2, just after recording a time that put him right behind his teammate Alex Albon.
On the restart with just eight minutes left, Albon appeared poised to beat his own time but opted for a pit stop instead. This move allowed George Russell to momentarily steal the spotlight at the top of the time sheets.
But it was short-lived as the McLarens soon regained the top slots. Norris posted a 1 minute 12.049 seconds lap, barely edging out teammate Oscar Piastri by 0.2 seconds. At this point, Verstappen had to settle for third.
However, Leclerc’s crash at Turn 9 brought out another red flag, stopping the clock with only four minutes remaining.
In the end, Norris couldn’t catch Verstappen’s unbeatable time, while George Russell snuck into a surprise third place, outdoing Albon who had started Q1 strong and effortlessly moved into Q3.
Down the order, Oscar Piastri finished in the eighth position, followed by the accident-prone Leclerc and Sargeant, who made his first Q3 debut despite his crash.
In a stunning upset, Lewis Hamilton failed to make it past Q2, unable to better his time after being overtaken by both Norris and Sainz. A fresh set of intermediate tires for Sainz and some additional hustle from Norris left Hamilton out in the cold.
Lance Stroll seemed Q2-bound until Sargeant’s last-ditch effort pushed the Canadian to 11th, missing the cut for the next stage. Pierre Gasly, who moved ahead of Hamilton, could only muster 12th place as he lost steam over the course of his lap.
Yuki Tsunoda clocked the 14th fastest time, narrowly beating out Nico Hulkenberg, who had momentarily flirted with the idea of breaking into Q3 before tumbling down the order.
Leclerc had a close call in Q1, saving himself from an early exit by a mere 0.05 seconds, narrowly outpacing Zhou Guanyu.
The opening session of the qualifier was a bonanza of position changes, thanks in part to a rapidly improving track. Even with errors on his last lap, Leclerc managed to edge out Zhou, whose own mistake at Turn 13 cost him dearly.
In the back of the pack, Zhou was followed by Esteban Ocon, with Kevin Magnussen, Valtteri Bottas, and rookie Liam Lawson also meeting an early exit.
- MAX VERSTAPPEN, Red Bull Racing
- LANDO NORRIS, McLaren
- GEORGE RUSSELL, Mercedes
- ALEX ALBON, Williams
- FERNANDO ALONSO, Aston Martin Racing
- CARLOS SAINZ, Ferrari
- SERGIO PEREZ, Red Bull Racing
- OSCAR PIASTRI, McLaren
- CHARLES LECLERC, Ferrari
- LOGAN SARGEANT, Williams
And the others, you know, are still figuring out how to time travel to the top of the board.
So, let’s hear it: Whose gearbox will seize, and whose tires will catch fire in the actual race? Only time will tell, but one thing’s for sure—this Dutch GP has already provided more twists and turns than a Hollywood thriller.