Qualifying for the Dutch Grand Prix was expected to be very close and it delivered a brilliant show for the spectators at the Zandvoort track. The Scuderia drivers both got incredibly close to local hero Max Verstappen’s pole lap time. Charles Leclerc will start from second on the grid at 15 CEST, thanks to a lap time 21 thousandths slower than the Dutchman’s. Carlos Sainz also produced a great lap and will have the #1 Red Bull car straight ahead of him on the grid, after qualifying third, 92 thousandths down.
Q3. Carlos and Charles both had two sets of new Softs going into the final shoot-out. The Monegasque was quickest on his first attempt ahead of Verstappen and Sainz. Then on the crucial final run, all three drivers in the hunt for pole were able to improve with Charles finishing second by a whisker.
Long race. The race will be very tough. Tonight, the team and drivers will study all the data acquired in race configuration during free practice, to work out the best strategy. It will be important not to let the poleman escape. His pace looks very good, but tyre management could make the difference over the distance. There is everything to play for and the Scuderia will leave no stone unturned.
Charles Leclerc #16
"As a driver, you always target pole but Max (Verstappen) just put it together today.
The car balance felt a step better compared to yesterday. Q1 and Q2 were a little tricky. We tried different things on the out laps and in the end the front was a bit stronger which was good because I could push more.
I'm confident for tomorrow, though it's a track on which it is rather difficult to overtake, so I hope it will be as close as today and that we can have a good battle with Max."
"We knew we were up for a good battle and it proved to be one of the closest qualifyings of the year. Finishing P3 within less than a tenth from pole shows how small the margin was today.
I expect a close race with even more cars in the mix, but I’m confident we can fight for the top places. Overtaking may be a bit easier than last year and strategy will play a big role.
Tonight, together with the team, we will evaluate all the available options in order to maximize the result in the race."
Laurent Mekies, Sporting Director
"We can be reasonably happy with how qualifying went, but there’s also an element of regret. We’re pleased to be back fighting for pole position down to the nearest thousandths of a second with both our cars, but obviously, when you come that close to pole you would like to have actually taken it. To see Charles and Carlos come within a whisker of Verstappen, just 2 and 9 hundredths slower respectively, is a good indicator of how intense the fight was. Well done to Max for his home pole.
One of the positive aspects of the weekend so far is that we have been able to help the drivers get more and more confident with the car with each passing session. This is down to the team at the track, including Charles and Carlos, and all those supporting us back in Maranello.
I expect tomorrow’s race will be a very close battle between three teams, as even Mercedes could be in the mix and so it should be a great show for all the fans in the grandstands and those watching at home on TV. We know that, so far, Verstappen has had a very strong race pace and tomorrow we will try and put him under pressure to make life difficult for him."