Winners and losers from the 2023 British Grand Prix qualifying

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen parked on the grid at the British Grand Prix. Silverstone, July 2023. tyre blanket.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen parked on the grid at the British Grand Prix. Silverstone, July 2023.

Max Verstappen made it seven poles for the F1 2023 season by claiming P1 on the grid for the British Grand Prix.

A surprise name joins him on the front row though, with McLaren’s Lando Norris having come oh so close to claiming a shock pole at his home race, while Norris’s team-mate Oscar Piastri, now also armed with the upgraded MCL60, secured P3 on the grid for Sunday’s race.

Ahead of Grand Prix Sunday then at Silverstone, let us give praise to those who shone in qualifying, and wag the finger at those who will be hoping tomorrow brings better times.


Max Verstappen

While Verstappen claiming pole for a Grand Prix is hardly a shocking development at this point, the Dutchman certainly did not enjoy a walk in the park to that P1 spot at Silverstone as the track continued to ramp up and the bravest were rewarded.

After earlier rain had dried up, the track became increasingly generous in its offering of grip to the drivers, and while after the opening Q3 runs it seemed like Verstappen had schooled the pack, Norris had other ideas.

The Brit would send his home crowd into raptures as he went onto provisional pole, with only Verstappen able to deny him that top spot. But that is exactly what he did when the pressure was on.

When one Red Bull driver dropped the ball again, more on that later, Verstappen proved once more that he thrives when the pressure is on.

Lando Norris

So, Norris may not have pulled off what would have been an iconic Silverstone moment, but the fact he was only a couple of tenths away from doing so rightly earned a round of applause. Sadly, as Norris said, jokingly of course, “Max always ruins everything for everyone”.

But Norris should not carry any sense of his Saturday at Silverstone being ruined, as now that the upgraded MCL60 is putting McLaren back among those top positions which they have craved to reside for years, Norris is proving that he very much belongs within that scene at the sharp end of the F1 grid.

Oscar Piastri

But that is not a statement only true for one McLaren driver, as Piastri proved with his first shot in the upgraded McLaren exactly why the team and much of the paddock rate him so very highly.

Norris was in the zone on home soil, and with Piastri having so far had a bit of a comfort blanket in his rookie year as McLaren stumbled below expectations, said blanket was firmly taken away and torn to shreds as he was given the MCL60 which Norris had driven to a P4 finish in Austria.

No bother though for young Oscar, who ensured that the praise being showered on McLaren shall be shared between their drivers by claiming P3 on the grid, outqualifying both Ferraris and Mercedes in the process. Good job!

The fans

After being treated to an epic qualifying like that, the fans may be the biggest winners of the day! Their dedication to stick it out in the earlier rain was rewarded.


Sergio Perez

Right, that is the happy stuff out the way, now we need to pick the bones on some underwhelming performances. Let us start with the pick of the bunch.

Perez was already on a streak of four qualifying appearances without a Q3 appearance, that a rather shocking run considering he is driving the dominant car of the field in the RB19, but while bad luck has reared its ugly head at times through that rut, his Q1 exit at Silverstone was unacceptable.

Former W Series pundit Alice Powell told Channel 4 that Perez at this rate is facing the end of his Red Bull career, and on current evidence with his title hopes long gone, it is not the wildest of claims to make.

He best hope Daniel Ricciardo cannot find his A-game in his post-Silverstone tyre test!


Perhaps placing Williams in the losers section may seem a tad harsh, Alex Albon after all made the cut for Q3, but we were just expecting more.

Albon was the real outlier of the Friday running as he featured in the top three in both practice sessions, and as the track dried again through qualifying, anticipation rose.

But, while McLaren stepped up, Williams fell backwards, Albon eight-tenths off Verstappen’s pace as he was forced to settle for P8 on the grid. Logan Sargeant failed to make the Q3 cut in a further disappointment for the Grove squad.


Lewis Hamilton described the performance of his former team McLaren as a “wake-up call” for Mercedes, and it is hard to argue, considering both they and Ferrari seem to have now forced their way ahead of Mercedes in the pecking order.

And considering Hamilton had hoped Mercedes’ fresh upgrade for Silverstone, that being a new front wing, would provide them with another step in the right direction, it seems actually Ferrari and McLaren have ticked that box several times over with upgrades across the Austrian and British GP rounds.

Mercedes traditionally put more faith in their race performance over qualifying in this ground effect era of Formula 1, so Hamilton best hope that unlike in Austria, this time Mercedes will have an answer for this pair on the move.

Aston Martin

While we are on the topic of teams slipping backwards, Mercedes do not find themselves alone in that particular boat, as they also have Aston Martin in there with them navigating choppy waters.

Aston Martin boss Mike Krack had predicted that their struggles in Austria were track specific, but the British GP has done little to support that theory with Fernando Alonso managing only P9 on the grid and Lance Stroll P12.

Having started the season as ‘best of the rest’ behind Red Bull, their list of pursuers are growing, and it feels like Aston Martin are sinking rather than swimming in this development battle, which in fairness, represents their first experience of one against Formula 1’s leading forces.

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