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Verstappen takes pole at the Dutch GP for the third time in a row

Formula 1 championship leader Max Verstappen put Red Bull on pole position for the third consecutive time for their home Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort on Saturday (26 August) after a difficult qualifying session riddled with accidents.

McLaren’s Lando Norris joined the local hero on the front row, compatriot George Russell was third for Mercedes and Alex Albon took an impressive fourth place for Williams on a drying track.

The pole was Verstappen’s eighth of the season, the 28th of his career, and he did it with just one flying lap after Charles Leclerc crashed his Ferrari and stopped qualifying four minutes from time.

The session was red flagged eight minutes from time when US rookie Logan Sargeant rammed his Williams into the barriers after making the top 10 shootout for the first time.

“It was about making your rounds but also avoiding trouble. I think we managed that quite well,” said Verstappen, who has won his home race since returning to the calendar in 2021.

“At the end, when we were able to run on slick tires again, there was a dry line in some places and we had to take some risks. But the last lap was a lot of fun,” added the 25-year-old, who started on a dry track in the final stage on intermediate stages.

“I think we might have underestimated a little bit when the wind came out and then the sun, how quickly it dried…but at the end of the day it didn’t matter and we still did the right thing.”

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, Verstappen’s teammate and closest rival but 125 points behind him after 12 of 22 races, qualified seventh.

Verstappen will seek his ninth straight win on Sunday, equaling the record set by the now-retired Sebastian Vettel, also with Red Bull, from 2013.

“Every once in a while you hope Max makes a mistake and he doesn’t, so it’s a little frustrating,” said Norris after a lap that was 0.537s slower than Verstappen’s best time of one minute 10.567s.

“But I am very satisfied. The team did a good job. It was a chaotic qualifying but another second place.”

Fernando Alonso qualified fifth for Aston Martin, while Carlos Sainz was sixth for Ferrari and Oscar Piastri eighth for McLaren.

Leclerc qualified ninth but had questions about the condition of his car’s gearbox after the impact and the possibility of a crash.

The Monegasque, who qualified alongside Verstappen on the front row at Zandvoort last year, was in danger of retiring in the first stage but managed to work his way up to 14th place and then into the top 10.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was the big one injured in stage two, with the Briton only qualifying in 13th place.

“I ended up doing two fast laps and the tires overheated,” said the Briton. “If the car is heavier (with fuel) then hopefully we can make progress in the race.”

New Zealand’s Liam Lawson, who made his F1 debut as a stand-in for injured Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull’s own AlphaTauri, qualified last.

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