The Orange Army at Zandvoort loved this! Max Verstappen is on pole position for his home race, beating his title rival Lewis Hamilton with a tiny margin of 0.038 seconds.
The Red Bull Racing driver used his second and final run in Q3 to deliver a lap time of one minute, 08.885 seconds at Zandvoort as Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton crossed the line behind Verstappen.
Bottas was next to complete his flying lap but could only manage a time of one minute, 09.222 seconds to fall over three tenths adrift, while Mercedes teammate Hamilton split the difference.
The seven-time champion completed a time of one minute, 08.923 seconds to join Verstappen as the only other driver to dip under the one minute, 09 seconds barrier, but he would end up a competitive 0.03 seconds.
Verstappen had initially been a full eight tenths clear after the first runs in the final portion of qualifying, his one minute, 09.702 seconds pulling clear of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso.
Bottas managed to beat the Alpines for provisional second before Hamilton nipped ahead of his teammate by 0.04 seconds, but was still seven tenths adrift of FP3 pacesetter Verstappen.
Verstappen swiftly improved down to a one minute, 08.923 seconds on his next flying lap before teeing up his ultimate run for pole position.
Pierre Gasly guided his AlphaTauri to a fine fourth place, his final effort falling shy of Bottas by 0.25 seconds as he completed the second row of the grid.
Charles Leclerc led an all-Ferrari third row as he pipped stablemate Carlos Sainz, resuming after a sizeable shunt in final practice, by just one hundredth of a second.
Antonio Giovinazzi progressed soundly into Q3 and snared seventh as the lead Alfa Romeo, while Ocon squeezed ahead of Alonso and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo completed the top ten.
Russell, after ending Q1 in P11 and while running in the same position in Q2, brought out a red flag when he suffered from a snap of oversteer on the entry into the final corner.
Although he careered through the gravel as he span, and the right-rear biffed into the outside Tecpro barrier, he was able to immediately rejoin the track and recover the car to the pits.
The Williams driver, who scored a maiden podium at Spa, had set personal best first and second sectors but would not take part in the remainder of the session.
A potential decline down the order was prevented by his teammate Nicholas Latifi creating a second red flag shortly after Q2 resumed following the 10-minute delay.
Latifi, sitting in P14, appeared to kiss the grass with his front-left wheel as he reached the entry of the medium-speed Turn 8 right-hander.
As he passed a slowing Hamilton, who was positioned off-line on the inside, Latifi spun across the gravel and headed side-on into the exit barrier with three minutes to go.
The session would not be resumed, which left Verstappen’s one minute, 09.071 seconds to head Leclerc by four tenths as Gasly ran to third on a one minute, 09.541 seconds ahead of Hamilton and Bottas by 0.2 seconds.
All drivers stuck to the softest C3 Pirelli tyre compound, which they will use for the race start, to reduce the risk of being eliminated by the considerable track evolution.
With no further times, Russell was the first driver to be eliminated, but held 11th, as Stroll and 13th-placed Norris could not complete their flying laps to fight their way into the top ten.
AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda rounded out the top 15.
Leclerc had set the pace in Q1, his one minute, 09.829 seconds effort creating a two-tenth cushion over teammate Sainz, while Verstappen’s strong early banker of one minute, 10.036 seconds kept him safe in third.
But his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez and Sebastian Vettel were the major casualties of the opening 18-minute leg, as both were eliminated in part due to traffic on their prep laps.
Late improvements for Lance Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo left Vettel prey, and the Aston Martin driver had to abort his final flying lap when he came across the slow Haas cars.
Nikita Mazepin was on a cool-down lap on the run to Turn 13 and he nipped past his slower teammate Mick Schumacher when Mazepin was informed of Vettel’s approach.
Mazepin had let Schumacher back past and then jumped on the accelerator and pulled to the inside, leading both cars to block Vettel, who would classify P17 as a result.
The late improvements of Ricciardo, Ocon and Stroll also meant Perez was bumped out at the first opportunity, his one minute, 10.530 seconds lap missing the cut off by 0.07 seconds behind Tsunoda.
As Giovinazzi ended Q1 fourth fastest, his stand-in teammate Robert Kubica was P18 as he replaced Kimi Raikkonen at Alfa Romeo after the Finn’s positive COVID test.
Kubica, as in FP3, shipped several tenths into Turn 1 and struggled with tyre temperatures on his final run.
Schumacher found 0.5 seconds over Mazepin as the pair of Haas machines formed the back row of the grid. Both drivers have been summoned by the stewards.
So congratulations to Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing in securing pole position at Zandvoort. Overtaking is going to be tricky as the circuit is narrow so getting a top grid slot in qualifying is half the battle won. Can Lewis Hamilton spoil the Orange Army party on Sunday? Let’s wait and see.
Dutch Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:08.885
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:08.923
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:09.222
4 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:09.478
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:09.527
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1:09.537
7 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:09.590
8 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1:09.933
9 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1:09.956
10 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1:10.166
11 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:10.332
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:10.367
13 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1:10.406
14 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:11.161
15 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 1:11.314
16 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 1:10.530
17 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:10.731
18 Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:11.301
19 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1:11.387
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1:11.875