Max Verstappen continues winning streak at British Grand Prix

By Sports Desk July 09, 2023

Max Verstappen delivered another crushing performance to win the British Grand Prix as Lando Norris held off Lewis Hamilton in a brilliant fight for second place.

A late safety car put Norris’ runner-up spot in doubt after McLaren elected to put the British driver on the harder, more durable tyre, rather than the speedier soft compound.

But Norris, 23, managed to keep Hamilton, 38, at bay in a tantalising battle between the two home favourites at a sold-out Silverstone.

Norris’ McLaren team-mate Oscar Piastri finished fourth, one spot ahead of George Russell, with three British drivers finishing in the top five.

Verstappen’s sixth consecutive victory sees the Dutch driver move 99 points clear at the summit of the standings.

“We had a terrible start so we need to look into that,” said Verstappen. “Lando and McLaren were super-quick. It took a few laps to past them and then everything was okay.

“I am very happy that we won again and 11 wins in a row for the team is incredible but it was not straightforward today.”

McLaren have been desperately short of form this season but a major upgrade at the British team’s home race worked wonders.

Indeed, Norris briefly led Sunday’s 52-lap race after he gazumped pole-sitter Verstappen following a supreme start in his McLaren to cheers from the British grandstands.

It marked the first time a McLaren car has led the British Grand Prix since Hamilton led here for the Woking team in 2012.

However, Norris’ time at the top lasted only four-and-a-half laps after Verstappen, in his superior Red Bull machine, drew alongside the Briton on the Wellington Straight before making the move stick into Brooklands.

Piastri was running in third with Russell trying, but failing, to find a way past Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Hamilton started seventh but dropped to eighth at the end of the first lap before regaining the position when he nailed Fernando Alonso on lap seven.

A tedious race came alive on lap 33 when Kevin Magnussen spluttered to a halt in his Haas. Flames briefly engulfed the rear of his machine before turning to smoke.

With Magnussen’s Haas in a precarious position at the start of the Wellington Straight a full safety car was deployed and Hamilton, who had yet to pit, was the main beneficiary, turning a net seventh into third when the order shuffled out.

Verstappen and Hamilton bolted on the soft rubber, but Norris, despite pleading with his McLaren team to follow suit, was given the hard compound.

When the safety car peeled in at the end of lap 38, Norris’ mirrors were suddenly occupied with Hamilton’s black Mercedes.

Hamilton sensed his opportunity racing around the outside of Norris through Brooklands and then Luffield, only for the McLaren man to hold position.

A third chance arose for Hamilton on the run down Copse but Norris expertly defended the position, leaving Hamilton with nowhere to go.

Hamilton backed out and tried again on the following lap but Norris kept his elbows out and the elder Briton was unable to find a way past.

From there, Norris was able to keep Hamilton at arm’s length, crossing the line 2.9 sec clear of the Mercedes car.

“That McLaren is a rocket ship,” said Hamilton as he crossed the line.

Piastri finished fourth on a fine afternoon for McLaren, one place ahead of Russell, with Sergio Perez sixth after he started a lowly 15th.

Alonso took the flag in seventh with Alex Albon enhancing his reputation with a fine eighth for Williams.

Verstappen crossed the line 3.7 sec clear of Norris to maintain Red Bull’s unbeaten streak this season.

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    Christian Horner has knocked back criticism that Max Verstappen’s stranglehold on Formula One is “boring” by describing his star driver’s unstoppable form as a “golden moment”.

    Verstappen claimed his fourth win from the five rounds so far this season with a commanding drive at Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix to establish a 25-point championship lead.

    The Dutch driver has failed to triumph at only two of the last 23 races staged in the sport, and he is the overwhelming favourite to secure a fourth world crown in as many seasons.

    Speaking prior to Sunday’s race, Lando Norris, who finished runner-up to Verstappen in Shanghai, admitted that seeing the “same driver win without a fight is boring”, and a “turn-off” for fans.

    But addressing claims that Verstappen’s dominance is damaging the sport, Red Bull team principal Horner said: “You have to appreciate success. Max is a special talent and this is a golden moment for him.

    “As we have seen with every single driver in the past, it doesn’t last forever. It is about enjoying the moment and being in the moment and there are no guarantees we can give him a car like this for the next five years.

    “Max is just a metronome. The pace he showed last year, he has continued that through.

    “And since the last Chinese Grand Prix in 2019, he has won 50 per cent of all the races. He has won 21 out of the last 23 races. He is in fantastic form, at one with the car and the team and enjoying his racing.”

    Verstappen also won the first sprint round of the season in Shanghai.

    The dash to the chequered flag took place before qualifying for Sunday’s main event in a rejig this year.

    Verstappen, 26, has often criticised the format, and although he agreed the new schedule is better than in previous years, he urged F1 bosses not to increase the number of sprints – which is set at six this season.

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    “We are already doing 24 races in a season and six of these sprint events, too. I guess it sells better and the television audience numbers increase, but it also increases the pressure on the mechanics to ensure everything is tip-top.

    “So, we have to deal with it, but let’s not now think that we need 12 of these (sprints) because it will take its toll on people in the sport.”

  • Toto Wolff hopeful Lewis Hamilton’s morale will not plummet after bad start Toto Wolff hopeful Lewis Hamilton’s morale will not plummet after bad start

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is confident Lewis Hamilton’s morale will not plummet despite his continued worst start to a Formula One season.

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    Hamilton has now gone 50 races and 868 long days without a victory and he was exposed to yet another sobering afternoon in his uncompetitive Mercedes.

    Following his worst qualifying result in seven years, Hamilton started on the quickest, but less-durable soft rubber, but just two laps into this 56-lap affair, his complaints began.

    “I am making no ground on this tyre,” he said after dropping from 18th to 19th.

    Hamilton made the first of his two pit-stops on lap nine and rejoined back in 19th, 53 seconds off Max Verstappen’s leading pace.

    “That was the worst tyre, man,” said the despondent 39-year-old.

    Hamilton was soon back on the intercom. “I can’t even catch him (Alpine’s Esteban Ocon), man,” he said. “This car is so slow.”

    Hamilton’s fortunes improved on lap 21 when he stopped for a second time, with the virtual safety car (VSC) deployed after Valtteri Bottas broke down.

    And as the marshals struggled to shift Bottas’ stricken Stake, the VSC was upgraded to a full safety car, promoting Hamilton up the order.

    He would be 12th at the restart, but he was still bemused by his unruly machine.

    “The car is just sliding around everywhere,” he said. “It just feels like something is broken. It is really bad.”

    Daniel Ricciardo suffered floor damage after Lance Stroll thumped into the back of his RB, elevating Hamilton into 10th before he swatted Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg aside.

    Hamilton was then up to eighth as Fernando Alonso made a maverick third stop for tyres. But the 42-year-old took advantage of his fresh rubber to blast back through the field, relegating Hamilton back a place with seven laps remaining.

    The seven-time champion took the chequered flag nearly one minute behind Verstappen.

    “This is the worst season so far, as I mentioned at the last race,” said Hamilton. “It definitely wasn’t better than expected because we expected to finish there today.

    “I have never had so much understeer in my life. I thought I damaged my car because there was debris on the track at one point, but it was just the way I set the car up.

    “We finished second in the sprint race yesterday and, with better decisions on setup today, we would have been where George finished. We have to keep fighting.”

  • Max Verstappen powers to dominant victory in Chinese Grand Prix Max Verstappen powers to dominant victory in Chinese Grand Prix

    Max Verstappen powered to another dominant win in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix – as Lewis Hamilton complained his car was “slow” and “broken” after he finished ninth.

    Verstappen emerged unscathed from two safety car periods to secure his 38th win from the last 49 staged in Formula One on his unstoppable march towards a fourth straight championship.

    But for Hamilton, now 50 races and 868 long days without a victory, this marked another sobering afternoon in his uncompetitive Mercedes.

    McLaren’s Lando Norris delivered an impressive performance to finish second, one place ahead of Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz fourth and fifth for Ferrari.

    George Russell could manage only sixth for Mercedes as the grid’s once-dominant team endured another race to forget.

    F1 is back in Shanghai following a five-year absence, and it was a venue that Hamilton once ruled, winning a record six times here.

    But the sport has a new king now, with Verstappen securing his fourth win from the opening five rounds – his only downfall in Australia when his Red Bull engine expired. For Hamilton, hampered by starting only 18th, his worst-ever season continued.

    As Verstappen blasted away from his marks to convert his pole position into an all-too predictable early lead, Hamilton was evidently struggling for speed in his Mercedes.

    Hamilton started on the quickest, but less durable soft rubber, but just two laps into this 56-lap affair, his complaints began.

    “I am making no ground on this tyre,” he said after dropping from 18th to 19th. Hamilton made the first of his two pit-stops on lap nine, and re-joined back in 19th, 53 seconds behind Verstappen.

    “That was the worst tyre, man,” said the despondent 39-year-old after switching to the medium rubber.

    Up front and Fernando Alonso, who moved from third to second following a fine move around the outside of Perez at the opening bend, was starting to slip down the order.

    On lap five, Perez sailed past the evergreen Spaniard, before Norris swooped ahead at the penultimate corner two laps later.

    Back to Hamilton, and he was now 15th after making his way ahead of RB’s Yuki Tsunoda at the first bend. But his mood had not improved.

    “I can’t even catch him (Alpine’s Esteban Ocon), man,” he said. This car is so slow.”

    Speed has not been a problem for Verstappen since he denied Hamilton a record eighth crown at the 2021 decider in Abu Dhabi.

    Temporarily demoted to third by virtue of changing tyres earlier than his competitors, the Red Bull star breezed past Leclerc on lap 16 before re-taking the lead from Norris three laps later.

    Hamilton’s fortunes improved on lap 21 when he stopped for a second time with the VSC deployed after Valtteri Bottas broke down. And as the marshals struggled to shift Bottas’ stricken Stake, the VSC was upgraded to a full safety car, promoting Hamilton up the order. He would be 12th at the re-start, but he was still bemused by his machine.

    “The car is just sliding around everywhere,” he said. “It just feels like something is broken. It is really bad.”

    In came the safety car on lap 26, but it was back out moments later after Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll clumsily thudded into the back of Daniel Ricciardo, and Kevin Magnussen punted Yuki Tsuonda off.

    Ricciardo suffered floor damage, elevating Hamilton into 10th and a single-point paying position before he swatted Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg aside for ninth on lap 41.

    Hamilton was then up to eighth as Alonso made a maverick third stop for tyres. But the 43-year-old took advantage of his fresh rubber to blast back through the field, relegating Hamilton back to ninth with seven laps remaining. Alonso would cross the line in seventh.

    Verstappen took the chequered flag 13.7 sec clear of Norris to extend his championship lead to 25 points with Hamilton – almost one minute behind his one-time rival – still searching for a top-six finish this season.

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