Here is our full text transcript from the report for the qualifying session at the Zandvoort circuit:
Heavy rain has returned to Zandvoort ahead of Qualifying. The Formula 2 Sprint Race has just been called off and we hope the weather eases up ahead of F1 Qualy at 2pm.
The teams have been given an extra set of intermediates due to the conditions, so they will now have five sets available to them in Qualifying. Tyre usage will be crucial as, ideally, you want two sets of inters for Q3 if it’s still wet.
ky Sports F1’s Bernie Collins on the crossover strategy for Qualifying:
“The teams have a lot to do with the car and setup. It’s really interesting today because the teams haven’t done a crossover from intermediates to dry today. There will be a lot of communication between driver and the pit wall. The pit wall will have a lap time in mind, the tyre engineer will have a temperature in mind, so they will be monitoring all that. They will look at video evidence and the driver will give their feedback. It might be that one or two turns aren’t quite dry enough yet for full dry tyres, so it’s who is going to jump first if we get to those dry conditions.”
It’s not a case of “if” traffic will be an issue, it’s guaranteed to be a problem for some drivers out there. The high-speed corners and tight nature of Zandvoort mean it’s inevitable there will be some impeding. Getting a banker lap will be important too, as Final Practice showed a small mistake can lead to a driver in the gravel or wall, causing a red flag. This should be very exciting!
And away we go for Qualifying for the Dutch Grand Prix. It’s the Williams drivers out there first. Intermediates for every driver as the sun continues to shine on the wet track.
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14 mins to go in Q1: It’s a 1:26.000 from Valtteri Bottas to set the early pace. This will be frantic though with all 20 cars out on track. Alex Albon and Nico Hulkenberg have already had trips through the gravel. Verstappen has a moment at Turn 1. He loses the rear mid-corner and goes wide, as he complains over the team radio: “Mate what is going on with the car? There is no grip. I’m spinning everything everywhere.”
12 mins to go in Q1: Expect the timesheet to change a lot. For the moment it’s a McLaren 1-2 with Lando Norris leading on a 1:23.260. Alex Albon is third, with Pierre Gasly fourth. No time for Max Verstappen yet, with Lewis Hamilton 19th so far.
11 mins to go in Q1: It’s now a Ferrari 1-2 as Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz go to the top of the timesheets. Just like this morning though, Leclerc goes deep at Turn 1 and needs to use the escape road around the gravel. But you can’t keep those McLarens off the top for long! First Norris and then Piastri go back to the head of the timesheet. Alex Albon is also running well so far, in third, with Max Verstappen improving into fourth. Liam Lawson is currently 16th in his first Qualifying session. It’s a solid effort considering how little time he’s had with the car. The teams now have to decide whether they want to use another new set of intermediates for the final part of Q1.
1 min to go in Q1: At the top it’s Alex Albon leading Max Verstappen but we are going to focus on the drop zone for now…Charles Leclerc now needs to find a lap – he’s 19th at the moment and on his final lap. Chequered flag: Wow, Charles Leclerc sneaks into Q2 by 0.042s. He was just a few thousandths up on the time needed to get through Q1 after the middle sector and had a snap of oversteer at the final corner, but gathered it up and keeps his Qualifying alive.
Charles Leclerc is not happy on the radio after squeezing into Q2: “Come on. Now, let’s be on it. The traffic is the most important. Tyre warm-up, everything, this is important. This is the only priority we have. Let’s focus on that and everything will be fine, otherwise we will be out in Q2. We are lucky already to be in.”
Q2 is go! Everyone still on the intermediates and there are dark clouds around the circuit. 11 mins to go in Q2: Max Verstappen opens the battle for the top positions in this second segment with a 1:21.921.
9 mins to go in Q2: A 1:20.690 is the new target time from Verstappen, which is 0.709s ahead of Piastri. Red Bull, McLaren and Williams are looking strong in these damp conditions. The track continues to dry and the grip levels ramp up, hence we’re seeing an array of lap-time improvements. At the moment it’s Verstappen back ahead on a 1:20.282, three tenths up on Norris and four tenths up on Hamilton.
6 mins to go in Q2: Carlos Sainz is calling for a new set of intermediates for his last flying lap in this part of Qualifying. He’s currently in the drop zone in 15th. Work to do for the Spaniard.
3 mins to go: Not for the first time then, Sergio Perez finds himself under pressure to ensure he makes the final stage of qualifying. He’s improving on this latest lap, but is eight tenths down on his team-mate after sector two. He goes second fastest for now – but there’s a full SECOND between the two Red Bulls in Verstappen’s favour, with Max into the 1:19s now. Several drivers including Hamilton and Albon pit for new intermediates and there are lots of personal best sectors out there. Red Bull’s Verstappen has pitted, but sticks with intermediates for what will be his final lap. He’s down in third now. Both Ferraris below the cut line into the closing 90 seconds…
Charles Leclerc moves up into third…and Lando Norris is now below the cut line in 12th. Sainz still 15th. Are we set for a big-name Q2 exit here? Chequered flag: Lewis Hamilton has been knocked out of Qualifying. It’s a dramatic end to Q2 as Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz and Logan Sargeant improve their laps to get into the top 10. Meanwhile at the top, it was Verstappen who ended up fastest from Piastri. It could be a Red Bull versus McLaren battle for pole position. But, being on the right tyre and setting a great lap at the right time will be just as important as car performance.
Lando Norris suggests it was his decision to not pit for new intermediates at the end of Q2, but he will be in the top 10 shootout. DRS has also been enabled for Q3 as the sun still shines on Zandvoort, so it looks like the rain has avoided the track.
And away we go for Q3. George Russell, Alex Albon, Carlos Sainz and Logan Sargeant are on slicks!
9 mins to go in Q3: Max Verstappen asks his team to have the slicks ready because he’s on the intermediates. His engineer Gianpiero Lambiase tells him to “focus on the driving”.
RED FLAG: Logan Sargeant has crashed heavily at Turn 2. He had just gone second to make it a Williams 1-2, but has gone rearwards into the barrier. The American clambers out of the car but he knows it’s a big opportunity missed.
With eight minutes to go, Sky Sports F1’s Bernie Collins explains the strategy options for the teams:
“There’s limited strategy here. They can do two runs on two new soft tyres and there’s maybe a minute extra margin, so they could come into the garage and do a turnaround but they are likely fuelled for the session. You could see something like out-warm-up-push on that first run, then a pit stop and one flying lap on the last run. That would get them to the flag nicely.”
The barriers at Turn 2 are being repaired, so we have a delay. It means the track will continue to dry, which will make it slightly easier in places for the drivers when they inevitably go out on slicks.
Soft tyres for everyone as the session goes green again. It’s Carlos Sainz at the head of the queue. So here we go then. Only four drivers have lap times on the board, so the rest certainly can’t afford any mistakes – particularly as it’s going to take a bit of time for them to gain full confidence on these slicks. All nine remaining runners on track. Carlos Sainz is the first on a hot lap, but has quickly backed out of it. Lando Norris leads Oscar Piastri to make it a McLaren 1-2 and Max Verstappen is only third! Norris is 0.199s ahead of Piastri, with Verstappen another 0.141s further back.
RED FLAG: Charles Leclerc crashes – and is out of Q3. 4 mins to go: The Ferrari has found the barriers after running wide at Turn Nine and damaged the car’s left-hand side. Pretty nasty whack for that side of the car. Leclerc is out of the car, and seems fine. That’s a big disappointment for his weekend. He’s fifth on the timesheet at the moment but may well drop down to ninth – and that’s if there’s no damage that would trigger a penalty, such as gearbox. Four minutes left when we resume.
Charles Leclerc’s car is cleared and Q3 will be back under way again in one minute. There is only time to use one more set of new tyres, so the question is do the drivers do an extra warm-up lap?
2 mins to go in Q3: The cars are spread out on track and it looks like most drivers are going for one out lap, followed by a flying lap. Here we go!
Chequered flag: Verstappen goes fastest for now, but Norris looks quicker. This is going to be really close! Lando Norris can only go second, so it is Max Verstappen on pole position in front of his home crowd. Alex Albon was briefly third, but is pushed down a place by George Russell right at the end. The Orange Army are delighted with that after a very tense Q3.