British Grand Prix: Max Verstappen sees off McLaren challenge to win at Silverstone

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen celebrates moments after winning the Austrian Grand Prix.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen celebrates dominant Austrian Grand Prix win.

Max Verstappen’s winning streak continued at the British Grand Prix as he saw off Lando Norris’ brief challenge with the help of a DRS pass to bag Red Bull’s first Silverstone win in a decade.

Norris grabbed the lead from Verstappen off the line but the British crowd’s celebrations were short-lived with Verstappen up into his traditional P1 by lap 5.

While it wasn’t the cruise of previous races, the field also bunched up by a late Safety Car for Kevin Magnussen’s engine failure, it yielded the same result as the past five with Verstappen taking the victory ahead of Norris and Lewis Hamilton.

Max Verstappen charges to the British Grand Prix victory

With all three compounds represented on the grid, the top five on the mediums before George Russell in P6 with a set of softs, a few spits of rain were noted as the drivers lined up on the grid. Lando Norris made an epic start from second place to take the lead off pole-sitter Max Verstappen who came across the track to cover him but the Briton had the better launch. Oscar Piastri tried to get involved while Lewis Hamilton went flying off and dropped to ninth.

A deafening roar went around the circuit as Norris led the first lap of the British GP, crossing the line ahead of Verstappen, Piastri, Charles Leclerc, Russell and Carlos Sainz. But with DRS available it seemed just a matter of time before Verstappen with his mega DRS took the lead, the reigning World Champion doing so on lap 5 as he easily slipped through up the inside at Brooklands.

Behind them Leclerc was under attack from Russell who in turn was being challenged by Sainz, Russell complaining about Leclerc “moving under braking” in their battle. Hamilton overtook Pierre Gasly to run eighth before closing in on Fernando Alonso and using DRS down the Wellington Straight and into Brooklands to pass his former nemesis.

One driver who didn’t need to worry about being attacked was Norris with McLaren letting him know that Piastri had been “told to hold position” and that “he’s holding position, we go together.”

Nico Hulkenberg was the first driver to pit, an unscheduled stop at the end of lap 7 after the Haas driver clattered his front wing in his tussle with Sergio Perez. He came in for a new nose and fresh tyres but was able to continue while Esteban Ocon became the race’s first retirement as he pulled into the pits on lap 10 with a hydraulic leak.

Back at the front Verstappen wasn’t exactly blitzing the McLarens as he struggled to break Norris’ DRS challenge with the driver telling Red Bull: “The car is pulling a bit weird.” They in turned told him the “wind is a bit variable”. But once it was broken, Verstappen began to build up a lead with that up to 2.9s by lap 15.

As the race hit its traditional lull as the drivers built up towards their pit stops, Leclerc remained under pressure from Russell, despite the latter still running the soft Pirellis, while Gasly was right on Alonso’s rear wing and Perez hunted down Alex Albon for 10th. Perez made his move on lap 17, but neither Russell nor Gasly were finding it as simple as the Red Bull driver’s overtake.

Leclerc was the first of the top ten to blink, pitting on lap 19 for hard tyres which potentially opened the door for a one-stop strategy. He came out P12 with McLaren asking Norris if he could keep his pace or if they needed to react to the Ferrari stop. He believed he could continue as is and was asked again eight laps later with the same response, although he was dropping time to race leader Verstappen lap after lap.

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Sainz was the next in but 10 laps after his team-mate, coming out in 12th place with Leclerc up to P10 having overtaken Lance Stroll. Russell came in two laps later to swap his softs for mediums but a slow start meant he wasn’t able to leapfrog Leclerc. That wasn’t an easy task, Russell making his pass on the track. Piastri also did the pit and pass move as he stopped and then overtook Albon. Gasly and Perez were also in.

With Kevin Magnussen’s Haas coming to a halt on the side of the track, smoke coming from the back, the VSC came out with Albon and Leclerc pitting only for the full Safety Car to be deployed with Verstappen stopping for soft tyres with Norris, hards, and Hamilton, softs, also pitting, the latter getting the jump on Piastri. Everyone had concluded their mandatory pit stop. Norris was not impressed with McLaren’s call to put him on the hards, “Lovely. Yeah. Wonderful man.”

The race resumed on lap 39, Verstappen bunching up the field before bolting with Norris immediately under threat from Hamilton and having to defend with everything he has. Piastri in turn was having to hold off Russell, who commented on how good the McLaren was. As Verstappen scampered off into the distance, Hamilton continued to harass Norris as Russell did Piastri but both McLarens were holding firm.

Further back Alonso, Sainz, Perez and Albon had a four-way battle for sixth place with Perez barraging past Sainz, Albon jumping in on the action and Leclerc coming from behind to also pass his team-mate with Sainz then finding Gasly and Stroll on his rear wing only for Gasly to exit the fight with what appeared to be a suspension issue after contact with Stroll. Perez took P6 off Alonso.

But while Sainz was having a trying time on the hard tyres, the McLaren drivers managed to pull out of DRS range of the chasing Mercedes team-mates. Stroll, meanwhile, was hit with a five-second penalty for crashing into Gasly

As the final laps counted down Verstappen continued to put a few tenths between himself and Norris to take the chequered flag by 3.5s ahead of the McLaren driver to record his sixth grand prix win on the trot. That extended his lead in the Drivers’ Championship to 99 points ahead of his team-mate Perez.

Hamilton made it a double British podium with his third place with Piastri, Russell and Perez next in line. Alonso, Albon, Leclerc and Stroll completed the top ten.

Result

1 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing
2 Lando NORRIS McLaren +3.798
3 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +6.783
4 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +7.776
5 George RUSSELL Mercedes +11.206
6 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +12.882
7 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +17.193
8 Alexander ALBON Williams +17.878
9 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +18.689
10 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +19.448
11 Logan SARGEANT Williams +23.632
12 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +25.830
13 Nico HULKENBERG Haas F1 Team +26.663
14 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +27.483
15 Guanyu ZHOU Alfa Romeo +29.820
16 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +31.225
17 Nyck DE VRIES AlphaTauri +33.128

Did not finish

Pierre Gasly Alpine lap 47
Kevin Magnussen Haas lap 32
Esteban Ocon Alpine lap 10

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