Formula One

Verstappen wins British GP, Norris and Hamilton on the podium


Max Verstappen clinched victory in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, making it a record-equalling 11 wins in a row for Red Bull and extending their grip on the 2023 championship still further.

But the home crowd had much to cheer with Verstappen joined on the podium by two Britons for the first time since 1999 after a text book drive for McLaren’s Lando Norris, and a spirited display from Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

Behind their respective team mates, Oscar Piastri and George Russell just missed out, while Sergio Perez gained nine places as he fought back from his qualifying mishap to finish in P6 ahead of Fernando Alonso and Alex Albon.

It had been a bright and sunny morning at Silverstone, but as the cars headed out to the grid there were dark clouds once again heaving into view, driven by the strong winds playing over the former airfield that could easily catch out the drivers once the race got underway. Max Verstappen was in his traditional place on pole but after that it was a Noah’s Ark formation with the teams going two by two – McLaren (Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri), Ferrari (Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz), Mercedes (George Russell and Lewis Hamilton) – before we got to Williams’ Alex Albon in eighth who had just pipped Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin, and the Spaniard’s replacement at Alpine, Pierre Gasly.

The top ten were all starting on the medium compound with Russell the exception on a used set of softs giving him the nominal advantage when the lights went out to get the British GP underway. It was a dream launch for Norris, putting the McLaren ahead of Verstappen into the first corner to the delight of the fans in the grandstands and leaving the Red Bull going wheel-to-wheel with Piastri to hold on to second. It had also been a good start for Russell on the softs, springing up to divide the Ferraris in fifth, in contrast to Hamilton who had gone off track at turn 3 and dropped to ninth behind Alonso and Gasly, although he swiftly picked off the Alpine to regain one lost spot.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19 on the grid.
09.07.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 11, British Grand Prix, Silverstone, England, Race Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

Norris looked comfortable in the lead but he wasn’t able to pull out of DRS range from Verstappen once the threat from Piastri dropped away, for now at least. Once Verstappen was able to get the advantage of that, he pounced and passed the McLaren on lap 5. Russell wasn’t able to pull off the same move on Leclerc – “If that’s not moving under braking, I don’t know what is”, complained Russell as his move was thwarted – allowing Sainz to catch them both while Alonso was a couple of seconds back trying to fend off Hamilton and Gasly with Albon hanging on to tenth ahead of Lance Stroll and Esteban Ocon.

The roar from the crowd confirmed a successful DRS pass by Hamilton on Alonso on the approach to Brooklands on lap 7. Meanwhile Sergio Perez had managed to move up to P13 with a move on Nico Hulkenberg after the German locked up. The Haas lost a front wing endplate on the back of the Red Bull in the process, obliging him to make an early visit to pit lane, dropping him to the back of the field. Ocon was also into the pits on lap 10, but in his case it was terminal with the Alpine pit wall regretfully informing him that they were having to retire the car due to a hydraulic leak.

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL60 leads Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19 and Oscar Piastri (AUS) McLaren MCL60 at the start of the race.
09.07.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 11, British Grand Prix, Silverstone, England, Race Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

A shower brushed close by the circuit but without a significant impact on the race. Verstappen now had a 2.2s advantage from Norris with Piastri under orders to hold station in third, although he didn’t have much work to protect his rear with Leclerc 3.5s behind, still running in close formation with Russell and Sainz, with Hamilton trying to catch up having dispatched Alonso. Also coming into play was Perez who was now up to 11th having taken care of Lance Stroll, Logan Sargeant and Yuki Tsunoda without too much problem. He then took care of business with Albon to haul himself into the top ten on lap 17, the Williams driver complaining that his front left tyre wasn’t faring so well.

Leclerc was the first of the leaders to make a scheduled pit stop on lap 19 to swap his mediums for a set of hards. It dropped him to P12 behind Lance Stroll, while freeing Russell to run in clear air for the first time as he continued to extend the life of his initial set of softs in an effort to overcut the Ferrari down the line. Sainz was next in although not until lap 27 while Russell held out to lap 29 before coming in for mediums. It wasn’t quite enough to get him back out ahead of Leclerc after all, but the faster compound allowed him to set the fastest lap minutes later and go round the outside of the Ferrari.

Now past half race distance, it was time for the rest of the leaders to begin their pit stop cycle. Piastri was in on lap 30 to change from the mediums to hard tyres, coming back out in sixth. He was soon up to fifth with a neat move on Gasly. But moments later a cat was thrown in among the pigeons when a smoking Haas came to a halt by the side of the track on lap 33 trigging a Virtual Safety Car and then the real deal. Leclerc immediately responded by coming down pit lane for a second time to ditch the loathed hard tyres, but pulled out of his box just as Albon was coming down pit lane having changed to softs, leading to a dicey encounter.

Then it was the turn of the leaders, Verstappen in for a set of soft tyres while Norris was kitted out with the hards despite having been heard to call for the red-walled option. McLaren CEO Zak Brown explained over the radio that it had been a close call but that they wanted fresh tyres on the car and only had used sets of softs remaining in the locker. Hamilton was also in, and his choice was for the soft tyres. The timing of the SC allowed the Mercedes team to play a blinder to get him back out in third ahead of Piastri, Russell, Alonso (now on softs), Sainz, Perez (also having selected the soft tyres), Albon and Leclerc.

Now the big question was whether Norris could make the hard tyres work to keep him on the podium for the remaining 14 laps once the race resumed. The Mercedes clearly had the faster car, but Norris proved admirably robust in defence and managed to dey Hamilton’s attempt to pass him, the seven-time world champion perhaps deciding that discretion was the better part of valour and to wait for DRS to be re-enabled. Meanwhile Verstappen had checkout out, leaving such tussles to mere mortals. Meanwhile Russell was able to assess the pace of Piastri up close and concluded that the McLaren was “impressive” on the hard compound.

Further back, Stroll had managed to pass Gasly for 11th but had gone off track in the process, leading to an indignant Gasly demanding the place back over the team radio but the stewards decided otherwise. Ahead of them, Perez was pressuring Sainz for seventh and was initially repelled; it was a case of second time lucky for the Red Bull, and it opened the door for Albon and Leclerc to make the most of the opportunity and pass the Ferrari.

It had been a disastrous few minutes for Sainz who was now under pressure from Gasly who had taken matters into his own hands with Stroll and snatched the position back all by himself. Although he briefly succeeded in picking off the Ferrari, the story didn’t have a happy ending for Gasly. He suddenly lost pace and started dropping down the order after suffering a puncture in his clash with Stroll, for which the Canadian was given a penalty for causing a collision. With Gasly’s team mate already out of the race, it meant Alpine had suffered a double failure to finish and came away from the weekend without any points.

Verstappen had put the win beyond doubt, but Norris had also secured second after Hamilton appeared to have cooked his soft tyres in that early assault on the McLaren. Piastri just missed out on the podium ahead of Russell, and Perez managed to complete his comeback campaign from P15 by taking sixth ahead of Alonso. There was a late battle for eighth with Albon just managing to ward off a last lap assault from Leclerc, with Sainz in tenth meaning that Sargeant, Valtteri Bottas, Nico Hulkenberg and Lance Stroll (after his penalty was applied) all narrowly missed out on points. The final cars across the line were Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu and AlphaTauri pair Yuki Tsunoda and Nyck de Vries.

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Verstappen wins British GP, Norris and Hamilton on the podium

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