Max Verstappen scorched to Formula 1 pole for the Dutch Grand Prix in a frantic and twice red-flagged qualifying session to beat Lando Norris by half a second.
The Dutchman punched in a 1m10.567s lap, which remained untouchable in the final moments of Q3 to ensure a third consecutive pole at his local race to the delight of his fans.
Although the McLarens had headed the order prior to the Charles Leclerc-enforced red flag towards the end of qualifying, Verstappen made no bones of setting himself up for an all-or-nothing flyer at the end and set a difficult benchmark to beat.
Norris came close and had been up on Verstappen at the close of the first sector, but lost time in the middle part of the lap to cast his slim pole chances asunder.
An already wild qualifying session assisted by a drying circuit came to a head in Q3, where the brace of red flags compressed the final hot laps into a final four-minute window.
Logan Sargeant produced the first stoppage in Q3 having just crossed the line to slot in behind team-mate Alex Albon at the top of the charts, after sustaining a heavy crash at Turn 2 after losing the rear to bring out a red flag.
The restart came with eight minutes on the board and, although Albon looked set to better his time, he instead elected to retreat to the pits and handed George Russell the chance to move to the top of the times.
But the McLarens then swept to the top, Norris grabbing a 1m12.049s to claim a time just 0.2s clear of team-mate Piastri - Verstappen only able to slot into third.
Leclerc then washed out on the exit of Turn 9 and clouted the barrier, prompting a further red flag with just four minutes left on the clock.
Verstappen's lap proved unbeatable for Norris, while Russell snatched a provisional third place from Albon's grasp at the very end of the session as the Williams driver had been on excellent form throughout Saturday's sessions.
Albon had earlier headed Q1, and broke into Q3 with apparent ease despite Williams' cool expectations for the Zandvoort weekend.
Fernando Alonso bagged fifth over Carlos Sainz, while Sergio Perez could only manage seventh, 1.3s behind Verstappen's benchmark.
Oscar Piastri was eighth fastest, ahead of Q3 crashers Leclerc and Sargeant, who nonetheless made his first Q3 appearance.
Lewis Hamilton was dumped out in Q2 by improvements from Norris and Sainz at the death of the second part of qualifying, having been unable to improve during his final attempts at a quick lap.
Hamilton was hovering on the precipice of the elimination zone and, his position became more precarious when Sainz employed a fresh set of intermediates to get through to Q3.
Norris then found more time to overturn his countryman's lap, as Hamilton appeared to be baulked by Yuki Tsunoda when attempting to complete a lap.
Lance Stroll looked to have made his way into Q2, but Sargeant's late flyer pushed the Canadian into 11th and out of qualifying. Pierre Gasly moved ahead of Hamilton but only set a time good enough for 12th as a solid first sector fizzled out over the rest of his last tour.
Tsunoda was 14th fastest, just 0.02s clear of Nico Hulkenberg who had briefly made a play for a Q3 appearance before sliding down the order in a frenetic end to the session.
Leclerc narrowly avoided becoming the biggest scalp in Q1, but his final lap in the opening part of qualifying lifted him out of the drop zone by just 0.05s over Zhou Guanyu.
The Ferrari driver was in the bottom five with seconds left in a frenzied opening part of qualifying, where improving track conditions ensured that the timing board resembled a slot machine with frequent changes of position.
Despite mistakes on his final lap, having missed the apex at Turn 11 and put him off-line for Turn 12, a subsequent slide on the exit of Turn 13 could not stop the Monegasque from progressing at Zhou's expense.
Zhou, who sustained a Turn 13 drift on his own best lap, headed Esteban Ocon in Q1 while Kevin Magnussen, Valtteri Bottas, and rookie Liam Lawson were also eliminated in the opening phase.
|Pos||Driver||Car / Engine||Time||Gap|
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Honda RBPT||1'10.567|
|5||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin/Mercedes||1'11.506||0.939|
|7||Sergio Perez||Red Bull/Honda RBPT||1'11.880||1.313|
|11||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin/Mercedes||1'20.121||9.554|
|14||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri/Honda RBPT||1'20.230||9.663|
|16||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1'22.067||11.500|
|19||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1'22.260||11.693|
|20||Liam Lawson||AlphaTauri/Honda RBPT||1'23.420||12.853|