Verstappen was on provisional pole from his first lap but cut another 0.038s from his final effort – an improvement that prove to be crucial. An agonising wait followed as Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, running second and third respectively, were on flying laps of their own.
Hamilton’s second effort was a big improvement, knocking 0.38s off his original time, but finished just 0.038s shy of the time needed. The Zandvoort grandstands erupted as soon as the screens showed Hamilton had not gone pole position, even though he moved ahead of Bottas to ensure he starts alongside Verstappen on the front row.
“It’s an amazing feeling to get pole position here,” Verstappen said after the session. “The crowd is incredible and today it was also very enjoyable.
“The car was really nice to drive. This circuit, once the fuel comes out [for the quick laps], it’s really cool.”
Verstappen trails Hamilton by three points in the championship and will move back into the lead of the championship if he wins his home race tomorrow, the first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985.
Pierre Gasly turned in a strong performance for AlphaTauri to finish fourth, ahead of Ferrari pair Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.
Sainz’s sixth position was a fine reward for Ferrari, who fixed the Spaniard’s car in the two hours that followed the Spaniard’s crash in final practice.
Antonio Giovinazzi grabbed an impressive seventh ahead of Alpine pair Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso, with McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo rounding out the top 10.
Both Williams drivers triggered a red flag in Q2. The first was caused George Russell, who spun at the final corner with just over four minutes in the session remaining. Russell bumped into the wall and threw gravel across the road, which required a clean up.
When the session resumed, Nicholas Latifi spun out at Turn 7 and hit the wall himself. With only 90 seconds left in the session, the FIA declared the second qualifying session would not resume. That left Williams out of the top ten, with Russell in 11th and Latifi in 14th. It was also costly for McLaren’s Lando Norris, who was running in 13th and needing a better lap to progress to Q3.
“Apologies to the team,” Russell tweeted after the session. “I pushed too hard today and ultimately cost us a shot at Q3. No excuses.
“Starting P11 tomorrow. I’ll do my best to make it up.”
Lance Stroll and Yuki Tsunoda were the other drivers eliminated from the session.
Sergio Perez and Sebastian Vettel were big-name eliminations in Q1.
Vettel had a near miss shortly before his final attempt, when he narrowly avoided contact with Haas driver Nikita Mazepin who was attempting to overtake Mick Schumacher through the final corner. Stewards confirmed the incident would be looked at after the session.
Robert Kubica, drafted in at short notice to replace Kimi Raikkonen following the Finn’s positive COVID-19 test, finished 18th ahead of Schumacher and Mazepin.
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