Max Verstappen was delighted to claim pole position for the first Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort in four decades, in front of grandstands packed with thrilled supporters.
The home favourite went into qualifying as the hot favourite to take the top spot after dominating Saturday morning’s final practice.
However it proved to be a lot closer than expected, with Verstappen emerging just 0.038s ahead of his arch rival Lewis Hamilton after the Red Bull suffered from DRS issues on its final run.
- Read also: Verstappen narrowly secures home pole for Dutch GP
“It’s an amazing feeling to get pole position here,” Verstappen told the media in parc ferme after the end of qualifying.
Click Here: NRL Telstra Premiership
“The crowd is incredible,” he continued. “The car is really nice to drive, and this track as well – it’s really cool.
“[Pole] is the best starting position, as passing [in the race] will be difficult,” Verstappen pointed out. “I don’t expect it to be an easy race as there are a lot of laps around here.
“The tyres are struggling through the high speed [turns],” he added. “But today was good, so I hope we can finish it off tomorrow.”
Red Bull team principal Christina Horner confirmed that Verstappen had suffered DRS problems in Q3.
“We saw that he lost a lot of speed on the last straight and it seems that the DRS didn’t open properly, so he gave away one and a half tenths.” Given that handicap, Horner said that it had been “a great performance from him under great pressure!”
Verstappen himself said he had been unaware at the time that there had been a problem. “Is that so? I don’t know,” he said later. “I need to check because I was not aware my DRS was closed to the line.
“For me the problem started earlier out of turn 3. It’s quite bumpy and I had a double shift. I was two-tenths up on my lap and then I lost like one-and-a-half tenths all the way to turn 7,” he reported. “You also use more energy because you are a gear higher – I de-rated as well.”
The crucial moment on Sunday will undoubtedly be the start, with Hamilton certain to throw everything at Verstappen in an all-out attempt to take the lead on the opening lap.
“We just have to put our heads down and concentrate on our race,” Horner commented. “The main guy we have to beat is Lewis.”
Mercedes also have Valtteri Bottas starting from third place, but Red Bull was disappointed by Sergio Perez’ early exit from qualifying.
The Mexican missed the chance to make a final run at the end of Q1 meaning he missed the cut, leaving him starting the race from 16th on the grid.
“We sent him out with enough time but they all went backward in the pitlane and he lost a lot on the track,” Horner explained.
“We have to fight back with Perez tomorrow,” he acknowledged. “Max was excellent in the first sector in turn 2 and 3, but Sergio’s confidence was not there.”
Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers
Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter