F1 British Grand Prix 2023: As the Silverstone crowd probably expected, Max Verstappen took pole and a Briton slotted in beside him on the front-row for Formula 1’s British Grand Prix.
But is probably wasn’t the one they expected as Lando Norris came within a quarter of a second of an unlikely pole position – to be denied at the death by Verstappen’s barn-storming final lap.
But second is still Norris’s best on the grid since that pole position at the 2021 Russian Grand Prix and puts himself in position for a podium tomorrow.
Elsewhere, Sergio Perez had another ‘mare as Ferrari walked into an entirely avoidable clash.
Winner – Max Verstappen
F1 British Grand Prix 2023: Five straight pole positions and he is surely set for a sixth win on the bounce.
Even after all that the Silverstone weather could throw at him, Max Verstappen came out on top.
So far, the only things to have stopped him in 2023 are a broken driveshaft, Charles Leclerc contact with George Russell in the Azerbaijan sprint and Leclerc stacking it in Miami Qualifying.
Ideas of what can challenge him next are waring thin.
He is on course for the greatest single season by a driver in the history of the World Championship – and the way it is going, no-one is going to stop him.
What did Verstappen say?
“It’s been quite a crazy Qualifying, it’s been quite hectic and also quite slippery in some places. We did our laps in Q3 and I was quite surprised to see McLaren there – but it is great for them to be here and from our side, very happy to be on pole position.“
© Red Bull Content Pool
Loser – Sergio Perez
F1 British Grand Prix 2023: Perez deserves some sympathy for this Qualifying exit for this was more on the team than anything he did himself.
Usually when there is a late restart in Qualifying after a red flag, you want to be out on track ASAP to ensure you get your time on the board – especially so with the threat of rain.
So Red Bull sent Perez out early to sit at the end of the pit-lane for nine minutes to give him the best track conditions.
Except it didn’t rain and the track ramped up meaning it was a case of ‘last man over the line’.
This meant Perez was 16th once everyone had finished, 0.019s down on Fernando Alonso.
Cue a fifth straight race missing Q3 and a whole load of work to do tomorrow. If he didn’t have bad luck, he’d have none at all. It’s just one of them ruts on a Saturday drivers fall into from time to time, but Perez’s is being exposed owing to the fact that his teammate keeps sticking it on pole.
What did Perez say?
“The red flag lasted a lot longer than we initially thought, so we ended up waiting a lot longer and that was a bit unfortunate. These conditions are where I struggle the most. The changeable conditions are something that we need to get on top of when we are able to do better.”
Winner – McLaren
F1 British Grand Prix 2023: Speak to anyone from McLaren over the weekend and the story was the same.
Yes, the Austrian GP upgrades had given the MCL60 a boost but that is a track at which the team have historically performed well and is one of Norris’s best.
Get them on the track at Silverstone and let’s see what they’ve really got.
And we did.
Both Norris and Oscar Piastri were standouts from the session with second and third, comfortably and regularly setting times within a tenth or two of the fastest lap of the time – even posting it themselves.
This gives the team an excellent foundation for a first podium at home since 2010 – that has to be the bare minimum from a two-three on the grid.What did Norris say?
“It’s always Max, he always ruins everything for everyone!”
Loser – Mercedes
F1 British Grand Prix 2023: That sounds you can hear is Mercedes coming firmly back to earth with the realisation that the W14 is still a pretty tricky machine to master.
There were hopes that after Spain and Canada, the upgrades would suit the team on home soil but it has been a mighty struggle all weekend.
The car did show flashes of pace during Qualifying, evidenced by Hamilton being the closest challenger to Verstappen on the first Q3 runs, with the Red Bull driver being the only one to take on new Softs for the lap.
But although he found 0.5s on the second lap, others found more and Hamilton was shuffled down to seventh, one place behind George Russell in the sister car.
Mercedes might feel they are on the right road, but it is a long and winding one and they are nowhere near the crest yet. What did Hamilton say?
“I am really happy for [McLaren], they have had such a bad run for so long so to see them back up there is really great to see. It’s not a blow, it’s just a wake-up call for us. Others are overtaking us and we need to do more.”
Winner – Alex Albon
F1 British Grand Prix 2023: Third, third and second in practice was no fluke from Alex Albon in that Williams.
The FW45 was a serious weapon, and Logan Sargeant was also nipping at the heels, but all the good work was nearly undone when the rain fell and the car looked like it needed to be treated kinder than the hind legs of a donkey.
But it dried up and Albon secured eighth on the grid, out-qualifying Alonso while Sargeant was 14th.
Boss James Vowles was quietly impressed with Sargeant in Austria and Albon continues to deliver the goods.
Points in the race is an absolute must in the team’s 799th F1 start, at the scene of their first win in 1979.What did Albon say?
“It’s been an amazing weekend but it’s funny when you finish in Q3, with P8 and you’re disappointed. We have to be realistic but it’s been great so far.”
© RN365/Michael Potts
Loser – Ferrari
The confusion between Leclerc and Sainz in Q1 was entirely avoidable.
If it was Leclerc’s turn to head out on track first by way of rotation, then simply send him out of the garage first and don’t release Sainz in the #55 until Leclerc’s #16 is making its way down the pit-lane.
It took the shine off the fact that the SF-23 has been massively improved in high-speed corners with its recent package of upgrades and the team looked rejuvenated just as Mercedes seem off the boil and some of that Aston Martin magic seems to be waning.
But as team boss Frederic Vasseur summed up, he’l sort it out with Leclerc and Sainz over a beer.
What did Leclerc say?
“Carlos decided to overtake, which is not ideal and we will discuss about it – but it had no influence so it is no big deal.”“