Max Verstappen's cruise towards a third World Championship continued with victory in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, where the home fans took solace in strong performances by several British drivers.
McLaren’s Lando Norris had the fans on their feet when passing Verstappen from the start and, while his race lead was short-lived, he equalled his career-best finish by taking second.
Norris was chased home in a thrilling conclusion to the race by compatriot Lewis Hamilton, who became the first driver in Formula 1 history to reach 14 podiums at a single track with his third-place finish.
With George Russell claiming fifth and British-born Thai driver Alex Albon eighth, it was a strong showing for the home favourites, albeit in minor roles on a weekend where Hollywood took over the paddock.
|What||2023 Hungarian Grand Prix|
|When||Sunday 23rd July|
|How to watch||Sky Sports F1|
|Odds||Max Verstappen 2/5, Sergio Perez 9/1, Fernando Alonso 12/1, Lewis Hamilton 12/1, Charles Leclerc 16/1|
Brad Pitt and the rest of the cast and crew of a new Hamilton-backed Formula 1 film were at Silverstone filming this weekend, and the hope for cinema-goes is their script is a little more dramatic than what’s playing out in reality in F1.
The Dutchman’s lead in the World Championship now stands at 99 points and is so commanding that he could finish second in every subsequent race and still retain his drivers’ championship.
Verstappen’s eighth win of the season was temporarily in jeopardy when Norris passed him, but such is the Red Bull’s superiority, Verstappen retook the lead on lap five and never looked back.
He steadily pulled away from Norris and his McLaren team-mate Oscar Piastri, who were comfortably running in the podium places, ahead of the two Ferraris and Mercedes.
But when Kevin Magnussen’s Haas lost power on lap 33, the safety car was deployed, bunching up a field sporting a variety of tyre choices.
Hamilton jumped Piastri by pitting during the safety car period, coming out on softs in third.
He looked well placed to pass Norris, on the slower hard tyre, during the last 14 laps, with Mercedes team-mate Russell in a similar situation behind Piastri.
However, McLaren have introduced some major upgrades to their car over the last two weekends and both drivers were able to hold off the Silver Arrows as they more than doubled their points tally for the season.
Russell commented on how fast the McLaren was, even on the hard tyre, and the Woking-based outfit look to have leapt up the grid having been the sixth-fastest car on average before Austria.
McLaren’s improvements come during a run of teams introducing upgrades to try and get close to Red Bull, with Mercedes’ new package initially making them the second quickest car on the grid.
Ferrari have also held that title, performing well in Austria, but couldn’t maximise their package at Silverstone, according to team director Fred Vasseur, as Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz fell down the order late on, eventually finishing ninth and tenth.
Vasseur believes the order of McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin on the grid is likely to continue to change from track-to-track, as has been the case all season.
Aston Martin had started the year as Red Bull’s closest challenger but lead driver Fernando Alonso has now only managed one podium in the last four races.
Aston appear to be losing ground, but their car should suit the twisty Hungaroring and may see them shoot back up the grid after Alonso took seventh at Silverstone, while Lance Stroll was demoted to 14th after receiving a time penalty for a collision with Pierre Gasly.
Sergio Perez was able to pass Alonso late on to claim sixth on another disappointing weekend for the Mexican driver.
The Red Bull driver failed to make Q3 for the fifth race running as he qualified in 16th, only adding to the rumours that his seat is under threat.
The man he replaced at Red Bull, Albon, could be one of those lined up to replace Perez after another excellent performance for his current team Williams.
Albon qualified and finished in eighth, his third top-10 finish of the year in a car that was expected to be amongst the backmarkers this season.
While Williams have made strides to move up the order, Albon has a massive role in them outperforming expectations and is likely to garner plenty of interest if he can maintain his current form.
Max Verstappen stormed to his fifth pole position in a row but the heroes of British Grand Prix qualifying were the McLaren drivers with Lando Norris lining up on the front row and Oscar Piastri third.
Verstappen was 0.24 seconds clear of the field, but it was close behind him with just three-tenths of a second separating Norris from seventh-placed Lewis Hamilton.
We have seen this year that single-lap form doesn't always translate to race pace, and Norris stated after qualifying that his aim for the race is to finish in the top five.
|What||British Grand Prix|
|Where||Silverstone Circuit, Northamptonshire|
|When||15:00, Sunday, 9th July|
|How to watch||Sky Sports F1 & Channel 4|
|Odds||Max Verstappen 1/5, Lando Norris 8/1, Charles Leclerc 16/1, Carlos Sainz 20/1, Lewis Hamilton 25/1|
Norris was at or near the head of the times throughout the qualifying hour but it will be in the back of his mind that the McLaren has not been as competitive in a race situation as it has in qualifying for most of the year.
Twice in the last three races, both McLarens started in the top ten but failed to earn a point between them.
A significant upgrade in Austria saw Norris claim his best result of the season with fourth place, but even then he had crossed the line fifth before being moved up the order after a penalty to Ferrari's Carlos Sainz.
The young Brit is guaranteed vocal support from the home crowd but the 10/11 that he earns a first podium of the season could prove a little short.
Ferrari appeared to have made a step forward in terms of their race pace in Austria, where Charles Leclerc was a strong second behind Verstappen.
The Monegasque lines up fourth at Silverstone and will have high hopes of finishing higher than that, for which he is rated 10/11.
Less than a tenth of a second behind Leclerc in qualifying was his Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz and the Mercedes pair of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.
It has been a difficult weekend for the home-grown Mercedes pilots, but they will be encouraged by that result.
Hamilton went backwards during the race in Austria after starting fifth, ending up only eighth after a post-race penalty.
However, at the majority of races this year, the car has been stronger in race conditions than over a single lap, so the eight-time Silverstone winner will have his backers at odds of 7/4 to reach the podium.
Sergio Perez wrote another chapter in his recent tale of qualifying woe, being caught out once again by changing conditions early in the session.
This is the fifth time in a row that the Mexican has failed to reach the top-ten shootout, and the second time in that span that he has been eliminated in Q1.
He finished third from 15th on the grid last weekend in Austria, though, and there are much worse tracks than Silverstone to carve your way through the field.
Hamilton managed to finish second in the 2018 British Grand Prix despite dropping to the back of the field after a collision at the first corner, and Perez will not have given up on getting a taste of champagne on Sunday afternoon. He is a 7/4 chance to do so.
The Williams team are celebrating their 800th Grand Prix at Silverstone and while the last few years have been a struggle for the former giants of F1, it has been a superb weekend for them so far.
Lead driver Alex Albon wasn't sure whether to trust the timesheets as both cars ended practice day in the top five, but he and rookie team-mate Logan Sargeant continued to impress on Saturday.
Although they would have been delighted to be lining up eighth and 14th for the Grand Prix when they arrived at Silverstone, they could now be forgiven for being disappointed with that result.
Albon's seventh-place finish in Canada was the team's best result since George Russell was second in Belgium in 2021 in a race that lasted four laps run entirely behind the safety car.
Their previous top-seven finish had come in 2017.
The car has tended to have decent race pace relative to qualifying performances, while it is strong in flat out sections, of which there are plenty at Silverstone.
Max Verstappen was in familiar form on practice day at Silverstone as he bids for a fifth straight pole position and sixth straight win in this weekend's British Grand Prix.
The Red Bull driver dominated the opening session and stayed on top in the later hour, both of which were held in sunny and warm conditions.
Storms are expected to move in overnight, though, and there is a good chance that the track will be wet when the all-important qualifying to decide Sunday's Grand Prix grid takes place.
|What||British Grand Prix qualifying|
|Where||Silverstone Circuit, Northamptonshire|
|When||15:00, Saturday 8th July|
|How to watch||Sky Sports F1 & Channel 4|
|Odds||Max Verstappen 2/7, Sergio Perez , Carlos Sainz 10/1, Charles Leclerc 10/1, Lewis Hamilton 20/1|
has been in a class of his own this season, winning seven races and finishing second in the other two. Qualifying setbacks, changeable weather conditions and strategies compromised by safety car appearances have done little to slow him down.
His Red Bull team too have produced a superlative challenger, equally dominant on the narrow streets of Monaco or the high-speed blast of Austria.
Red Bull have also taken eight of the nine pole positions this season, including all of the last five, while Verstappen is currently on a run of four consecutive poles.
Wet weather in qualifying can lead to surprises as some drivers simply find themselves on track at the wrong time as road conditions continually change.
Some big names were caught out in Canada last month including Perez, but Verstappen coped better than anyone, taking pole position by well over a second.
The double world champion is just 2/7 to go fastest in qualifying at Silverstone, with Perez next in the market at .
It has been another generally frustrating season for . While last year, the Scuderia routinely threw away decent results with poor strategy calls, this year their car has not been consistently fast enough to challenge Mercedes and Aston Martin for podium places, never mind chasing down the Red Bulls.
The Monegasque driver has also had more than his share of dramas on Saturdays, but he did grab a front-row start in Austria last week.
His consistent team-mate Carlos Sainz started third to confirm Ferrari's pace, while their performance in the race last weekend suggested the team are going the right way with their development strategy.
Sainz ended practice two in Silverstone just a whisker off Verstappen's best time, and although it can be dangerous to read too much into Friday form, that will certainly encourage the Italian squad.
Leclerc didn't fare as well, being forced to sit out the whole of the second practice hour with an electrical issue.
However, that may not affect his chances in qualifying too much as the session is generally more focused on gathering data for the race.
The Spaniard is favourite in an all-Ferrari qualifying match bet at 8/11.
Mercedes' British driver pair and George Russell will have been looking forward to their Silverstone trip all year, although a disappointing showing in Austria last weekend will have dampened their enthusiasm.
Practice did not offer much encouragement, with both drivers complaining about a lack of grip, and Russell ended the afternoon 12th fastest with seven-time Silverstone pole-sitter Hamilton down in 15th.
However, it may be too soon to write off the Silver Arrows, as they had similar issues in Spain before Hamilton qualified fourth and both cars made the podium in the race.
Alexander Albon races under the Thai flag but his father is British and he grew up not far from Silverstone, while the crowd certainly see him as one of their own.