Formula 1: Pole hat-trick at the Orange Festival: Verstappen top

Formula 1: Pole hat-trick at the Orange Festival: Verstappen top

2021, 2022, 2023: Pole goes to Max Verstappen. The Dutchman gets the fans and himself in the mood for the attack on Sebastian Vettel’s record win.

Max Verstappen caused the first high point at the Orange Festival and maneuvered himself into the best position to attack Sebastian Vettel’s record. As in 2021 and 2022, Verstappen raced to pole for his home race on Saturday to the thunderous applause of the fans in the jam-packed ranks of the dune course in Zandvoort.

If the 25-year-old two-time Formula 1 world champion also wins the third edition of the Dutch Grand Prix after returning after more than 30 years, he sets Vettel’s record from 2013 with his ninth win in a row this season – also in the Red Bull – a.

Two interruptions and the difficult conditions made the knockout elimination a nerve test for Verstappen too. “It was pretty slippery,” he said. “It’s easy for you to make a mistake. It was all about making the rounds but staying out of trouble.”

Slippery spots

After some rain by the afternoon, the track had gradually dried out, but some spots remained slippery. “We had to take a little risk, but the last lap was great fun,” said Verstappen. With the final lap he had secured the 28th pole of his career, half a second ahead of Lando Norris in the McLaren. Third was George Russell in the Mercedes.

The sun peeked out from between dark clouds just in time for the start of the knockout phase. The track was still damp, still really wet in some places. Conditions that also challenged Verstappen when he once had to cross the gravel bed. At least he didn’t get stuck in it.

Felt 90 percent Verstappen fans

The estimated 100,000 spectators along the route held their breath for a moment, felt 90 percent were Verstappen fans. The asphalt, which was just over 20 degrees, dried off, lap after lap it got faster, but not necessarily easier.

It was no easy task, especially for debutant Liam Lawson. The 21-year-old New Zealander was in Daniel Ricciardo’s car after he broke his left metacarpal bone in an accident during training on Friday. With just one hour of practice time in Zandvoort, Lawson had to settle for last place in the Alpha Tauri – he was eliminated in the first period.

The only German pilot was caught in the second round: Nico Hülkenberg came in 15th place after his contract extension with Haas during the week – only two places behind record world champion Lewis Hamilton. The 38-year-old Briton was eliminated prematurely in 13th place.

Exciting battle for the top ten

In front, however, Verstappen demonstrated why he is absolutely unbeatable at the moment. The battle for the top ten got exciting. As time ticked down, Logan Sargeant interrupted. The American had lost control of his Williams and crashed into the barriers. He remained unharmed, the car took a hit and had to be taken away with the crane.

A good eight minutes remained for the showdown for pole. The track was cleared and further dried. Norris drove to one, Verstappen only managed the third fastest lap before it was interrupted again. 4:05 minutes before the end, this time Charles Leclerc caused red flags with a gang impact in the Ferrari.

There was hardly any more excitement. What remained was a lap to warm up and then only one more chance: And Verstappen used it in Champions style. He went ahead, the others couldn’t keep up.

Source: Stern

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