What the teams said - Qualifying in the Netherlands
Verstappen looked to have a real fight on his hands in qualifying, with McLaren in particular looking strong. But cometh the hour, cometh the man. Verstappen’s last lap in Q3, with no room for error with only the racing line fully dry, was exceptional. He wound up on pole by a mighty half a second, setting him up perfectly for the Grand Prix. Perez was there or thereabouts, but couldn’t extract much from his final lap and had to settle for seventh.
Max Verstappen, 1st, 1:10.567
"Qualifying in these conditions on new tarmac can be quite tricky but that last lap was very enjoyable. It’s all about putting in good laps and staying out of trouble. We’ve had wet conditions at the last few races but it’s the first time here in Zandvoort, the wind and drying track played a big factor in Q3 and turn one on my final lap was a bit tricky, but the Team made all the right calls today.
"The pressure's always there to perform in front of your home crowd but when you can pull it off it feels incredible. To be on pole here feels great and we have a very strong car for tomorrow, let's see what we can do."
Sergio Perez, 7th, 1:11.880
"It was a challenging qualifying today, with the changeable conditions and amount of red flag time. I definitely wanted to be a lot higher up, especially for the race because it is not an easy track to overtake around. It was very tricky out there, especially towards the end and the strategy we took in Q3 was probably not ideal in hindsight.
"At the time we thought it was the best to do a double push but I think doing a single timed lap would have been better for the tyre. We just have to look forward now, we have a great race car, we had very strong race pace on Friday and in the simulations so hopefully we are able to make some good progress tomorrow. I want to keep the momentum from before the summer break going, we should be able to really come through the field and deliver the podium."
Christian Horner, Team Principal
"Today was a continually moving target with the constantly changing conditions and there were moments where we thought it could get away from us. The biggest wobble we had with Max was when he went straight on in Q1 on his first lap. The next he got blocked and we had an eye on the weather hoping we weren’t going to miss out, we just needed to get one lap on the board and thankfully the next lap he managed to, he just struggled to get the temperature into the tyres initially. In taxing conditions like this, there was a lot of debate around when to run, which tyres etc, and with the added pressure of a home race for Max, it’s hard not to feel the expectation of the crowd, the noise and the hype, but the way Max manages that is truly remarkable. Once again the whole Team did a fantastic job in reading the conditions, preparing the car and getting it right for the lap when it mattered, and that last lap was classic Max, truly lightning.
"Checo aborted his first lap to push on the second as he could feel the track evolving but didn’t quite have the confidence that Max had today in those difficult conditions and we saw a lot of drivers making mistakes. We’ve got a really mixed up grid in the top ten but we know Checo can race well from seventh and it’ll be an interesting race tomorrow."
In the wet final practice session, McLaren slid slightly further down the order but both drivers appeared confident and didn’t go for pure lap time unlike some others. As such, heading into qualifying, it looked like they would be right in the mix. That they proved to be, with Norris and Piastri constantly trading fastest lap times with Verstappen. Come Q3, it looked to be more of the same but Piastri didn’t nail his final flying run as the track dried up, while Norris put in a poor final sector on his hot lap. Luckily for Norris, the first half of that lap was so rapid, he managed to still grab second.
Lando Norris, 2nd, 1:11.104
"P2 was a good result in these conditions. Every now and again you hope Max makes a mistake and he doesn’t. Frustrating in a little way but I’m very happy! The team’s done a good job. It was a chaotic qualifying but another P2, so a good start to being back in the car.
"The first half of the lap was mega, the second half was probably one of the worst second halves of a lap that I’ve done! I’ve always enjoyed these conditions, it’s when we do well. So, I'll take P2.
"I think there's quite a bit of tyre degradation here and not our forte when it comes into play: we start to struggle quite a bit in certain corners. But we've improved the car quite a bit since Friday, so I want to be a little bit more hopeful. There are opportunities, but it's going to be tough.
"We had a tricky Spa, but still finished P7, and we come to a track which we know suits us a bit more and we proved it today again. So, the team has done an excellent job, they've really made a massive step forward from where we were to where we are now. And days like this, when you reward them, is always a good thing. So, we’ll keep pushing. I keep saying we’re not far away, but at the same time, we’re still quite far. So yeah, we'll keep our heads down."
Oscar Piastri, 8th, 1:11.938
“Eighth in qualifying, a bit of a disappointing end to what was otherwise a good session. It’s a shame to be a bit further back than I’d like, I just think I paid a little bit for not getting the laps in yesterday’s practice sessions, especially when it dried-up today. The car had good pace and felt good which is pleasing so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow and hopefully score some decent points to start the second half of the year."
Andrea Stella, Team Principal
"It was a busy qualifying with conditions that kept changing all the way through the session. The team and the drivers made good decisions, being out on track with the right tyre at the right time, which allowed us to make it with two cars in Q3 and fight for the front positions of the grid.
"In Q3, Lando put together a clean lap on dry tyres, even if he wasn’t completely happy, but this is normal without having many references. On Oscar’s side, after a strong first run on dry tyres, he struggled to find the rhythm going onto the second set. We can't forget that not only is Oscar a rookie at this track in a Formula 1 car but also yesterday he had limited running in dry due to the incident. Overall, we start the race from strong positions. We’re now going to analyse and prepare for tomorrow, to try and score good points."
Not to be for Hamilton, who struggled all day in the wet. He exited in Q2 after mistiming his final run, crossing the line far earlier than the rest with the big track improvements still to come. He did get impeded by both Aston Martin cars at various points, and also Tsunoda in a scrappy session. Russell though, came alive in the wet conditions. He made it all the way to Q3 and, once there, grabbed his best qualifying since Australia with a superb third on the grid.
Lewis Hamilton, 13th, 1:20.151
“It wasn’t my day today. Since FP1, I’ve lost some confidence in the car and that made qualifying tricky. It was tough to get the tyres into the working window, I struggled with the balance and overall grip, and George also did a few different settings that seemed to work better. But we know that the car operates in a narrow window, and these things can happen when you are in that situation. On the final run, I did two consecutive laps and the tyres overheated on the second one, so I couldn’t improve the time. Tomorrow is a new challenge; hopefully the car will be a bit better on full tanks, and we can make some forward progress. This isn’t an easy circuit for doing that – but that will be the goal.”
George Russell, 3rd, 1:11.294
“That was a great session and I’m happy to be in P3. Qualifying was a strength earlier in the season, but it’s been going a bit wrong for me recently, so it was good to get the break, come with some fresh ideas and put ourselves in a good place to fight for the podium tomorrow. The final lap was pretty okay – we know that we struggle to get temperature into the tyres when it’s wet or the crossover to slicks, but that also turns into a strength on Sunday. I’m sure Max will enjoy his usual Sunday drive tomorrow, but from P3 hopefully we can have a good fight with Lando, Alex and the rest.”
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“It was a challenging session, as we know our car is not the strongest when it comes to warming up the tyres in the wet and on the drying track. That means we need to put all the details together and that was hard today. George got the maximum from it to take a second row, so I hope he will be racing for the podium tomorrow. For Lewis, it seemed like he was impeded on every timed lap – including his quickest one – but he also didn’t have full confidence in the car today. We will analyse why – but we know as well that we can race stronger than the cars around him, so I hope to see him move forward tomorrow. So, a day of mixed fortunes; but we can take positives from P3 and build from there.”
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
“We’re pleased with the P3 start position for George and naturally disappointed we couldn’t get Lewis further up. We were struggling for temperature on intermediate tyres in the morning session, George managed to get on top of this, but Lewis was not particularly happy with his balance and finding it hard to build heat in the tyres. Those trends continued into qualifying although Lewis was particularly unfortunate with the number of cars blocking him on fast laps; ultimately it was the lack of a clear lap that prevented him making the final session. We’re expecting conditions to improve for tomorrow; our long run pace looked reasonable on Friday so hopefully we can move forward with both drivers.”
Williams looked quick in the dry yesterday, and they looked quick in the wet too. Hopes were high going into qualifying, and their drivers didn’t disappoint as both made it to Q3 – Sargeant for the first time in his career. But the American rookie’s Q3 didn’t last too long, as he took too much kerb and slid into a spin, hitting the barriers and bringing out the red flags. When the session did resume, Albon didn’t look to have been distracted by that one bit as he grabbed a brilliant fourth place, for his team’s highest grid slot since 2021.
Logan Sargeant, 10th, 1:16.748
“I have mixed emotions and it’s definitely bittersweet. To make Q3 is a huge thing for us. There are so many positives to take; the team and car have been fantastic all weekend and I delivered good laps when they counted in Q1 and Q2 to get there. It felt like we had a good chance going into a dry last session, and Alex proved that with his result, but it’s fine margins in these conditions. I need to look back and see what went wrong, but not dwell on it because our long run pace here has been great. We’ll get the car rebuilt as close as we can and try to score some points. I’ve personally seen progress the entire European leg and I know it is just a matter of time; I’m really close now, starting to understand how to extract the time from the car and that’s what makes today even more painful. I’m disappointed to leave the team with a damaged car but I’ll reset, help the team and we’ll go again tomorrow.”
Alex Albon, 4th, 1:11.419
“We were good in FP1, FP2, FP3, and of course thought we’d start dropping back down and that we’d hit our sweet spot early, not playing with the car too much since FP1, but this made me feel confident. So, when you add confidence with a track like this which is so narrow and uncompromising, add in mixed conditions, you really need to feel at one with the car, and I have this weekend. We needed a car that was driveable on the limit and fortunately, our car has been all weekend. There’s been a nice headwind through some of the corners, so I definitely think that played a part today and helped us a lot more than normal. We’ve been quite surprised with our high downforce performance this weekend, so hopefully we can deliver on it tomorrow.”
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
“The Zandvoort circuit is a great circuit in the dry, but in the wet conditions, it really becomes an exciting challenge. We made some changes to the car overnight but then reworked the FP3 plan after the rain fell. We were reasonably strong in FP3 but could see that we didn’t have the car quite right for those conditions. We were able to make some further changes ahead of qualifying and these helped us step the performance up another notch in the drying conditions.
“Both drivers responded to the changing conditions very well and embraced the test that this circuit offers. Qualifying was reasonably calm throughout and whilst it was a shame that Logan ended his Q3 session early, he nonetheless delivered an excellent performance up to that point. He is rewarded with a top-10 start for the Grand Prix tomorrow, which gives him the chance to have a very strong race. Alex was again brilliant in the difficult conditions and was able to complete a very competitive lap at the end of the session. Starting the Grand Prix in fourth place is a great result for Alex and the entire team.
“The team in Holland and in Grove performed very well today and they have put us in a strong position for the race tomorrow. The weather remains uncertain but however it transpires, we can put up a decent challenge and look to score points with both cars.”
Stroll was just pipped right at the end of Q2 by a late improvement from Sargeant’s Williams, the Canadian tumbling out of qualifying on what has been a tricky weekend so far. But Alonso did make it to the top 10 shootout and wound up fifth. With a raft of upgrades, it was hard to gauge how much time they might have bought the team in such mixed conditions, but with a Williams ahead, Alonso will have a clear target in the race tomorrow.
Fernando Alonso, 5th, 1:11.506
"It wasn’t an easy Qualifying session today in the wet and the dry, so we have to be happy to qualify fifth for tomorrow’s race. It was very intense and there was a very small margin for error with the narrow track, so it was very challenging. In these types of conditions, you have no idea what happened in the previous seven minutes you were in the garage, so it can be a little bit of a guess, but we did very well today. The upgrades seem to be working well and it has been a great job by everyone in the Campus who have been working flat-out to bring these updates this weekend."
Lance Stroll, 11th, 1:20.121
"The car was feeling strong today, so it’s frustrating to miss out on Q3 by such fine margins. On reflection, we were just a little early going out for my final run; the track was drying quickly and so the tyres weren’t holding up as well by my second push lap. I think we’re in a good place for tomorrow though. The AMR23 feels competitive, and I was able to push on a challenging circuit, which was good fun. We know the field is incredibly tight here and overtaking can be tough, but if we maximise our opportunities in the race then I think we can score some good points for the team."
Mike Krack, Team Principal
"It was another Qualifying session dominated by wet weather and then a drying track, but the team did a great job of managing the sessions. The car balance in these conditions was pretty good, but Lance suffered with some overheating on his final set of Intermediates. It meant he just missed out on a place in Q3 by half a tenth. The red flags created a very disruptive Q3 and Fernando lost two of his flying laps just as he was about to complete them. So, all things considered, qualifying in fifth and 11th place for tomorrow’s race is a decent outcome from a challenging session. The AMR23 is working well here in the wet and the dry so we should have a competitive car to fight for strong points in race conditions too."
Both Ferrari drivers struggled in the wet conditions in FP3, Turn 1 proving a challenge as both Leclerc and Sainz skated wide there on more than one occasion. Roll on qualifying, and it was much of the same for Leclerc who once again found himself down the Turn 1 escape road on a further two occasions. Worse was to come in Q3 when he understeered wide and into the barriers, bringing out the reds and ending his session, with a spell of sunbathing rather than an early bath in order. As for Sainz, he managed to grab sixth but didn’t really look likely to get in the mix with the likes of Norris and Russell. He did get called to the stewards to explain a moment with Piastri as he appeared to run the McLaren wide, landing the Spaniard a reprimand and Ferrari a €5000 fine.
Charles Leclerc, 9th, 1:12.665
"It has been a difficult weekend so far and we have struggled with our car balance since the first session. We will look into it and try to improve the car to make it more predictable. It will be a tough race for us tomorrow, trying to fight our way up to the front. Let’s see what’s possible."
Carlos Sainz, 6th, 1:11.754
"Our performance this weekend hasn’t been great and we knew it was going to be a challenging qualifying. We managed to get through to Q3 and put together some decent laps for P6 but it’s obviously not where we want to be. Tomorrow it won’t be easy either, but be sure we will do our maximum to defend the position and bring home the best result possible."
Fred Vasseur, Team Principal
"It was a very busy qualifying, as is always the case when it starts on a wet track but with no rain falling, because the track evolves continuously and so it’s vital to be out on track all the time. Carlos and Charles made it through to the final phase, performing very well in Q1 and Q2. Then in Q3, although the track was completely dry, conditions were still very tricky: Carlos managed to post a pretty good time, while Charles made a mistake, ending up in the barrier having gone off the dry line, which can unfortunately happen in these circumstances.
"Tomorrow’s race will not be easy for us, given how difficult it is to overtake and how close everyone is, but in our long runs we saw signs that lead us to believe we can make up places."
The Alpine duo were another pair to run wide in FP3, and as such their true pace was very much a mystery heading into qualifying. It proved to not be too competitive, with Ocon opting to stay on the same set of inters at the end of Q1. It proved to be the wrong decision, as he lacked the pace to make it out of the first part of qualifying, while Gasly was eliminated in Q2. They will be hoping their race pace can see them climb through the field.
Esteban Ocon, 17th, 1:22.110
“Unfortunately, it’s not been a good day for us today. It’s the first time I’ve been out in Q1 this season, so that is very disappointing. On track the conditions were tricky for everyone and on our side, we struggled in many areas, especially with general stability and in high-speed corners. We have some work to do to analyse what happened today and see what we can do to put ourselves in a stronger position in tomorrow’s race. I have started in lower positions before and came back to score points, so that remains the target and we will fight all the way to the end to make our way into the top ten and into the points.”
Pierre Gasly, 12th, 1:20.128
“I think today could have been better and we’re starting outside the top ten for tomorrow with work to do ahead of us. Conditions were not easy out there on the damp track but still very enjoyable and a good challenge to drive. We will review what we could have done better today as there’s definitely a few small details that did not click, especially in Q2. As a team, we’ll keep working, keep digging and the aim is to score points tomorrow, which I’m sure we can achieve.”
Bruno Famin, Interim Team Principal
“It’s not been an easy afternoon for the team today with both cars starting out of place from our expectations on tomorrow’s grid. We certainly felt we had the pace for more but we have to deliver it better. We will review all the fine details for which we need to improve for next time. For tomorrow we will assess all our options on strategy with the target of giving both drivers the best chance to climb their way back towards the positions scoring points. It will not be an easy race but we will give it our all to come away with something from this race weekend.”
Lawson gave a good account of himself in FP3, although he did spin late on after getting up on the slippery kerbs. Come qualifying he propped up the grid, but he did have a clean and tidy session which was more than some more experienced drivers managed. Tsunoda did make Q2 but couldn’t go any further, and was subsequently hit with a three-place grid drop from the stewards after impeding Hamilton.
Liam Lawson, 20th, 1:23.420
“Firstly, I feel for Daniel in this situation, and it’s not something you want to see, especially to someone as nice as him, and I hope he recovers quickly. Any chance you get to race in Formula 1, you will grab with both hands, so I’m very excited about the opportunity I have been given. There are lots of emotions because it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was three years old.
“Today has been very hectic, with very tricky conditions. It was my first time driving on the intermediate tyres during the first session, and it was different to what I expected, but I felt like I was getting somewhere and learning how the tyres behaved. During qualifying, I was feeling comfortable and like I was gaining a lot, but then it rained again, and I expected the grip to drop, but I was surprised by how high it stayed, so for sure, I didn’t maximise everything. I feel comfortable in the car, but with these conditions, it’s tricky to learn this track in the car.
“Physically, I feel ok now, but with wet track conditions, it’s not as physically demanding as the dry, so I expect it to be more tough during the race. This track is definitely a tricky one, bumpy in some places and takes confidence, which is difficult for me to pick up so quickly. If it’s dry tomorrow, I’m going to be learning many new things because I haven’t driven the car in fully dry conditions yet and haven’t done any long runs on dry compound tyres. I’ll just learn as much as possible and hang on.”
Yuki Tsunoda, 14th, 1:20.230
“Today’s track conditions were tricky and considering that Liam only had FP3 to drive the car, he definitely did a good job on his first day. As for me, qualifying was frustrating because we couldn’t put it all together. The team did a good job of getting me to Q2, but there’s definitely room for improvement from me, especially with my radio communication to keep updating them about track conditions. I think the car had the pace to get to Q3, so I feel I didn’t maximise my performance, which is the thing that’s the most frustrating, because you always want to feel like you gave it your all. The track conditions were really difficult, and I had traffic in multiple places, but it was the same for everyone on track. It is what it is and it’s learning for the future. It’ll be difficult to overtake tomorrow but the conditions are different again, and we’ll do what we can, obviously aiming for the points.”
Guillaume Dezoteux, Head of Vehicle Performance
“We had an intense journey since yesterday’s crash, but the mechanics did a fantastic job to prepare the car for Liam. The conditions were difficult in the third free practice, but Liam did a good job at keeping the car on track and ramping up his pace step by step. The conditions were particularly tricky for him on intermediate tyres as it was the first time he’d driven on them.
“The qualifying session has been again wet, which looks like a steady feature of the 2023 season. As for Liam, it was about doing as many laps as possible to keep learning about the car and adapting to the conditions. He did a good job, making no mistakes and bringing the car home. There is definitely still a lot to come from him, and we are looking forward to the race, to hopefully give him useful dry running in the AT04.
“In regard to Yuki, qualifying started well, making Q2 with some margin. The track kept improving, but unfortunately, he couldn’t make it to Q3 on his last attempt. Traffic was difficult, so we’ll analyse the data tonight, to see if we could have done something different about tyre preparation. We’ll also perform the strategy simulations to understand the most likely scenario for tomorrow. The car wasn’t bad in the long run we did in FP2, and we hope we’ll find ourselves in the position to fight for points with Yuki.”
Magnussen was the first to bring out the red flags in FP3, after spinning off at Turn 3. Worse than that was the fact he damaged his new-spec front wing, leaving him without that upgraded part for the rest of the weekend. He couldn’t shake the rustiness of that moment off in qualifying, exiting early on. Hulkenberg, who did have the very last new front wing fitted, couldn’t do much better, winding up down in P15.
Nico Hulkenberg, 15th, 1:20.250
"I feel we converted a solid qualifying and we did what we could. We got the running order right, the whole sequence, which is also easy to get wrong in these kind of conditions, but it wasn’t quite enough in terms of pace. It was a similar picture to yesterday. We’ll approach tomorrow with an open mind, push hard, and try what we can but my expectations are frankly not too high."
Kevin Magnussen, 18th, 1:22.192
"I set myself up for it a little bit by damaging the car in FP3 and not getting any wet laps in before qualifying. I tried my best in qualifying but it wasn’t fast enough to get into Q2. We damaged the new front wing in FP3 so unfortunately, we can’t use it for the rest of the weekend and I think it helped, so we’ll just have to try and make do in the race."
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
"Obviously a frustrating day for us for a variety of reasons – primarily led by a lack of track time and ultimately a lack of pace when it mattered. There’s not really a lot we can say after a day like this other than we can do better, and we’ll see what we can do to be better prepared for tomorrow’s race."
Zhou managed to spin off at the final corner in FP3, beaching his car in the gravel and bringing out the red flags. He therefore lost out on some track time, but with Bottas finishing in the top 10, there were signs that the Alfa Romeo had decent pace here. But surprisingly, the Finn was eliminated at the first time of asking, unable to extract that pace on his final flying run in Q1. Zhou’s lack of lap time also cost him, on a disappointing day for Alfa.
Valtteri Bottas, 19th, 1:22.260
"We had been in the top ten in every session so far, so to go out in Q1 is hugely frustrating. I am puzzled, because the feeling in the car was quite similar to FP3, our laps were good, but we are ten places further away from where we were earlier. The conditions on track were tricky but not too dissimilar from earlier in the day, so I have no explanation for this: tyre warmup seems to be the biggest issue, but we need to find some more answers ahead of tomorrow. The race won’t be easy, starting in 19th, but we will give it all: hopefully qualifying was an outlier, and if it’s a wet race, we could get an eventful one and make up some places."
Zhou Guanyu, 16th, 1:22.067
“Conditions were trickier than this morning, but I think it was still okay and we had a good chance to make it to Q2. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to maximise our final lap: I had a massive snap in the final corner, where it was wetter, and I just lost out on Q2 by a small margin. Today was not an easy Qualifying session, everybody was fighting to find some space, and it was difficult to get the perfect lap in. Earlier this morning, when the rain was heavier, maybe the car was in a better window. Hopefully tomorrow will be another chaotic day that can give us more opportunities to move forward.”
Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative
“Today’s result is not representative of the potential of our package, a potential we had shown in every session of the weekend so far. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make our best laps in the first attempt, and by the time we were finishing the second push laps, the weather conditions had deteriorated in the final sector and the resulting times were not enough to stay ahead of our rivals. It’s a pity, as the drivers had done clean laps: we will need to understand where we fell short and where we could have improved to get our spots in Q2. Tomorrow won’t be easy, but we have to be ready to exploit any opportunity, especially if the conditions are mixed: it’s important we keep working hard, with motivation and no frustration, both here and at home. We will have an aggressive approach in the race and give 100%, hoping to extract a good result from our Sunday.”
Mario Isola, Motorsport Director
"It was a spectacular qualifying, which is often the case when track conditions change very quickly. In the end, Max Verstappen did it again, but it’s worth noting there are six different teams represented in the top six places, a sign that Formula 1 is in rude health despite the dominance of one driver and one team. Tomorrow’s race will have two sides to it. On the one hand, Max Verstappen is the clear favourite, while on the other, it is impossible to say who else could finish on the podium. In terms of strategy, there are several options on the table, both in terms of the number of stops where the choice is between two or one, and in terms of choice of compound. This variety is down to several factors. First and foremost, our Hard tyre here is the C1, which has been modified for this year and, while degrading very little offers more grip than its predecessor. Then there is the weather with cool temperatures facilitating the use of the Medium and Soft compounds. Finally, there’s the fact that there is a wide choice in terms of types of tyre. The number of stops can also vary depending on the characteristics of the cars and the choices made when it comes to aero downforce levels. Those who favour track position will most likely opt for a single stop, using a combination of C2 and C1. Those who believe they have what is needed to be competitive when it comes to overtaking, will go for the two stops, favouring the use of the Medium and Soft. Added to this is the unknown factor concerning the weather, even if the forecast is for something dryer than what we saw today. All these factors combined point to it being a very interesting race tomorrow.”