Max Verstappen casts verdict on McLaren surge at Silverstone

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen speaking with Lando Norris after qualifying. Britain July 2023

Max Verstappen speaking with Lando Norris after qualifying. Britain July 2023

Silencing the British Grand Prix fans as he snatched pole position off Lando Norris at the very end of qualifying, Max Verstappen says McLaren’s progress of late has been “quite impressive”.

But whether it’s enough to see either Norris or P3’s Oscar Piastri challenge him for the win remains to be seen.

Norris and Piastri were two of the stars of qualifying at the Silverstone circuit as the Briton topped Q1 before his team-mate lined up second behind Verstappen in Q2.

McLaren progress has been ‘quite impressive

But coming down to the wire it was anyone’s guess as to whether they could continue that form into Q3 as the drying circuit meant everyone was on a brand new set of soft tyres for their final run.

Norris was the second last to cross the line and jumped ahead of Verstappen into provisional pole with a resounding cheer ringing out over the Northamptonshire track.

That was silenced seconds later as Verstappen came through with a 1:27.702 to pip the McLaren driver by 0.1s with Piastri bagging third place.

It’s McLaren’s best qualifying of this season, a sharp turn around in form for the Woking team who recently introduced a heavily-revised MCL60 that now more resembles the Red Bull RB19.

“It’s great to see both of them up here,” said the reigning World Champion. “Yeah, great result for their team.

“And also, where they started off in the year, to see them here it’s quite impressive as well. So yeah, very happy for them and hopefully of course they can also have a very strong race tomorrow.

But while Norris was all smiles after securing a front row start position, the Briton concedes he would’ve needed a mistake from the Red Bull driver to bag pole position. recommends

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“I was watching… There are a lot of TV screens around the circuit so I was trying to watch every single one possible and I was surprised how long I was up the top for but it just kind of depended on when Max was going to cross the line so… I guess I’m a little bit surprised,” he said.

“I wasn’t expecting for us to be here or for myself to be here anyway. I think we’re very happy with the result.

“But it was more if Max made a mistake rather than if we were quicker than him. He’s doing a very good job. The team are doing a very good job from his side. I put a good lap in. No mistakes.

“It was a much cleaner run than my Q3, run 1. But it was a good qualy, you know. I think P1 in Q1. I think P1 in Q2 and almost P1 in Q3 but not quite. But I’m so happy with that.”

Sunday, though, could be a different story as so far this season McLaren have struggled more in grands prix than they have in qualifying, most notably in Spain where Norris qualified P3 but finished down in 17th place.

“We don’t talk about Barcelona anymore, OK!” he said. “I think if we look to Austria, Austria is a very different circuit to this. But in Austria we performed extremely well in aualifying and we managed to back it up a reasonable amount in the race. So I want to be hopeful.

“I’m not normally hopeful going into a Sunday, because of how this year has been and how things normally go or certain tracks come Sunday. But yeah, I’ve got some reasons to believe and some hope after our pace today, and how we were on Friday and some [of our] times, then we can have a good race tomorrow. Probably not enough to race this guy, but enough to put up a fight for, hopefully, a top five.”

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