O n a day where, as per normal, Ferraris experienced no real burst of pace but definitely mixed fortunes with Mercedes not exactly dominating the proceedings and Red Bull finding stern competition from the likes of Williams and both McLarens, what more could one have asked at the qualifying of the Dutch Grand Prix?
Rains widely hijacked the opening round of qualifying during Q1 with dry and damp track situations making things a bit more complicated than usual for the drivers. There was neither a dearth of drama nor scary bumps at Zandvoort as F1 made its way back into our lives after what clearly felt like an onerous break.
Not long after finally making it to his first-ever Q3 qualifying round, Williams’s Logan Sargeant found his way into the barriers in the initial stages of Q3 here at Zandvoort on Saturday thereby self-immolating the chance of completing what was, regardless of the eventual result, a promising drive.
The F1 newcomer is slated to begin from tenth on the grid, which is a marked improvement given none whether in the midfield outfits such as an Alfa Romeo or Alpine or even those from significantly powerful outfits such as Mercedes or Aston Martin could do what a rookie managed in the Netherlands.
Although Sargeant would still carry on to complete the final session, he was perhaps far more fortunate despite beaching his machine than Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc ever was.
Understeering massively at the exit of Turn 9, Leclerc, pitted as Ferrari’s golden boy made a big mess of his chances and thankfully got out unscathed as his machine made contact with the barriers at a tricky corner, thus promoting the second red flag of Q3.
The Monegasque is due to begin his race tomorrow from ninth on the grid; not the result he was expecting, was he?
Though, living true to its surprising and rather unprecedented nature of events, Formula 1 unfurled a wet and wild Grand Prix qualifying battle at Zandvoort, the home territory of defending champion Max Verstappen.
The ultimate winner on Saturday was local favourite Max Verstappen who set a cracker of a lap on the softs going rapidly at 1:10:567 and grabbed pole. In so doing, the Dutchman would outperform Norris, Russell, Albon and Alonso in that order. Credit must go to Alex Albon for his flashes of pace as well as to the hugely consistent McLaren of Lando Norris.
Verstappen, who is poised to win yet another home race, would love to repeat his heroics of 2022.
That said, here’s the dramatic part leading into Q3.
While both McLarens, both Red Bulls, both Ferraris and both Williams placed themselves in Q3 with just one Aston Martin and one Mercedes making the cut, there was a massive blow to the chances of some prominent names on the grid.
Mega multiple champion Hamilton, Lance Stroll, the rising force Tsunoda, and the experienced Hulkenberg along with Pierre Gasly all got eliminated in Q2 itself, with the seven-time world champion Hamilton’s elimination being perhaps the real shocker of the previous round.
Although one thought that Lewis complaining of the tire pressure issue in his Mercedes in the earlier stages of Q1 was always supposed to play a role in his eventual qualifying result and as one later found out, it did impact his performance.
But that’s all about Saturday; bear in mind that Sunday is a brand new day where just about anything could happen. However, those who begin from the front row will be bound to feel a touch better despite the inclement weather.
What lies ahead of us is possibly an imposing battle that’ll last for 72 laps.
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