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Dutch Grand Prix 2021

What we learned from qualifying for the 2021 F1 Dutch GP

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton will share the front row of the grid for the sixth time this season at Zandvoort, while Lando Norris saw an impressive Saturday streak come to an end. RacingNews365.com looks back at the big talking points to emerge from qualifying for the Dutch GP.

Verstappen Zandvoort fans
To news overview © Red Bull Contentpool

Max Verstappen will start from pole position for the seventh time this season, setting up a tantalising battle with Lewis Hamilton as the pair make up the front row of the grid for Sunday's Dutch Grand Prix.

Although it's the sixth time they have started on the front row together in 2021, it's the first time since that famous opening-lap collision at Silverstone back in July.

It means we're set for another exciting chapter in the fight for the F1 World Championship, though it isn't the only talking point to emerge from qualifying for the Dutch GP.

Verstappen and Hamilton battle resumes

After last weekend's rainout in Belgium, it looks as though Verstappen and Hamilton will finally get to resume their battle on track.

We all know how things played out the last time they started one-two at Silverstone: neither driver was willing to concede an inch, giving us a thrilling opening lap before Hamilton sent the Dutchman crashing out of the race.

All signs point to another titanic struggle on the opening lap of Sunday's race. While Mercedes have looked a step behind Red Bull all weekend, that wasn't the case on Saturday as Hamilton's lap was just 0.038 seconds slower than that of Verstappen.

Red Bull have the upper hand on Mercedes between the exit of Turn 2 and the entry to Turn 3, meaning the run down to the first corner will be key.

Verstappen looks to have the advantage through the first two sectors before Hamilton claws back time thanks to Mercedes' superior speed down the main straight and into Tarzan.

Therefore, just like Silverstone, all eyes will be on whether Verstappen can fend off the charging Briton in the opening laps as he looks to deliver at home in front of the frenzied Dutch fans.

			© Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images
	© Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images

Ferrari ahead of McLaren, but both trail Gasly

Sergio Perez's inability to get out of Q1 left a gaping hole behind the trio of Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

Ferrari and McLaren were the favourites to take that fourth spot, however the Woking-based team had their own qualifying drama to deal with as a late red flag in Q2 caught out Lando Norris, who failed to reach Q3 for the first time this season.

In the end, the likes of Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo were all trumped by Pierre Gasly, who will start in the top six for the third race in a row.

The Frenchman admitted after the session that finishing P4 was like pole position for him, especially as AlphaTauri hadn't had a smooth weekend prior to Saturday's qualifying.

With Leclerc and Sainz starting fifth and sixth and Ricciardo all the way down in 10th, Ferrari will be eyeing a big points tally at the expense of their rivals as they continue their battle for third in the Constructor's standings.

However, the two Ferrari drivers, along with Gasly, will be hoping for some drama in front of them as a place on the podium isn't out of reach.

Giovinazzi giving Alfa Romeo something to smile about

Saturday didn't start well for Alfa Romeo following news that Kimi Raikkonen, who recently announced he will retire at the end of the season, will miss Sunday's race after testing positive for COVID-19.

Robert Kubica was drafted in for the Finn, with expectations low given the lack notice he had before being called into action. While it isn't surprising to see him start all the way down in 18th, Antonio Giovinazzi's efforts were eye-catching as the Italian will start the Dutch GP in P7.

Having made it through to Q3, Giovinazzi ended the day ahead of the likes of Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo and only missed out on a top four spot by 0.112 seconds.

Given how difficult it is to pass around Zandvoort, Alfa Romeo could be in line for a strong showing in the Netherlands, something few would have bet on prior to the weekend.

			© Alfa Romeo
	© Alfa Romeo

Safety Car may be called into action

While nobody wants to see the Safety Car on track like we did in Belgium, don't be surprised if it is called into action on Sunday.

In just two days of action at Zandvoort, we've seen six red flags. The latest came during qualifying when the Williams duo of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi went off track in Q2 in separate incidents.

Earlier in the day, Sainz crashed his Ferrari at Turn 3, with the Spaniard stating Zandvoort challenges drivers much like Monaco and Baku do. He even went so far as to state that's how F1 circuits should be.

With small run-off areas, banked corners and gravel traps all demanding perfection from each of the 20 drivers, one small mistake could see the Virtual Safety Car or Safety Car deployed on more than one occasion.

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