Zandvoort Speed Trap: Who is the fastest of them all?

September 6, 2021 0 By JohnValbyNation

It’s a rare occurrence in F1 when the slowest driver on the straight is also the fastest man to complete a lap around a track, but that was the case in qualifying at Zandvoort on Saturday.

Max Verstappen’s pole was just 0.038s faster than runner-up and archrival Lewis Hamilton, but the Dutchman certainly didn’t owe his small edge to the straight-line speed of his RB16B.

The Red Bull driver sped past Zandvoort’s speed trap located at the end of the main straight at 308.7 km/h, a velocity that placed the Dutchman at the tail end of the readings, and almost 6 km/h slower than Hamilton’s Mercedes which was recorded at 314.5 km/h.

    2021 Dutch Grand Prix – Qualifying results

However, there was perhaps a clear explanation for Verstappen’s laggard top speed performance. On his final flyer that ensured him pole, the Red Bull’s DRS failed to open properly as he exited Zandvoort’s final banked corner, thus impeding his top speed.

Still, the 308.7 km/h reading was the maximum speed the Honda-powered RB16B could achieve on Max’ second fastest qualifying lap. So his top speed on his final push – without the DRS – was likely even slower.

Fortunately, the pure blend of Verstappen’s outstanding skills and the efficiency of his car around his home circuit’s undulating mix of medium and high-speed corners more than made up for the high velocity shortfall.

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Finally, here’s an interesting observation from qualifying spotted by F1i’s Andrew Lewin: Hamilton’s final Q3 lap was identical to the thousandths of a second to Verstappen’s first!

So, if Max hadn’t improved with that final run – despite the DRS issue – then they would have been tied.

That’s how close it was!