SILVERSTONE (Agencies): Max Verstappen continued his relentless charge to a third Formula One world title on Sunday when he claimed his first British Grand Prix victory to deliver a record-equalling 11th consecutive win for his Red Bull team.
It was his sixth win in succession, his eighth in 10 races and the 43rd of his career as Red Bull matched the feat of McLaren who won 11 races in 1988.
The double world champion increased his lead ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez in the drivers’ championship to 99 points.
In a race of attrition, interrupted by safety cars and influenced by tyre-wear, the Dutchman came home 3.7 seconds ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris, who held off Mercedes’ seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton in a thrilling finale.
Norris’s McLaren team-mate Australian rookie Oscar Piastri finished fourth ahead of George Russell, Perez, two-time champion Fernand Alonso of Aston Martin and Williams’ Alex Albon.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz came home ninth and 10th, a disappointing result for the Italian team after they had started from fourth and fifth on the grid.
For Norris, who led the opening laps after beating Verstappen at the start, it was his best result since finishing second at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix while for Hamilton, a record eight-time winner at his home race, it was a 14th British podium.
“Eleven in a row! That’s pretty crazy. Well done everyone” said Verstappen.
“I was doing a bit of drifting on Thursday with marketing and today I felt like I was doing it again! We’ll look into it as it wasn’t very good and I had a bad start too. Lando had a lot of pace today.”
Norris was delighted. “That’s pretty insane, pretty amazing!” he said. “The team did an amazing job, so big thanks to them, but the team put me on hard tyres at the pit stop. I don’t know why – they’re still beginners at some things!
“They just wanted to give me a test I guess! That’s what Zak (Brown, team boss)said and he probably called the shots on that one! I wanted the softs. It made more sense with the Safety Car, but I don’t care. I am P2!”
Hamilton, who started his F1 career with McLaren in 2007, winning his first race with them and his first world championship, thanked the huge Silverstone crowd – estimated at 160,000 on the day and 480,000 for the weekend – for his pace and performance.
“I didn’t do it,” he said. “The crowd did it! A big thank you to everyone for supporting and the energy which I felt. That’s the reason I got up there. Also, I want to say a big congratulations to Lando and McLaren.”
- Hollywood twist –
The race began in warm and dry conditions, following light rain, as Norris, from second on the grid, took advantage of a sluggish start by Verstappen who held off Piastri to retain second.
The pre-event pomp and ceremony had been given a unique Hollywood twist with film star Brad Pitt joining the drivers for Damian Lewis’s rendition of the British anthem, standing close to Verstappen, who may have been distracted.
The Dutchman recovered his poise and when Drag Reduction System (DRS) was initiated, he swept past the Briton on lap five to lead.
A ‘virtual’ safety car was deployed after Kevin Magnussen pulled up his Haas with an engine failure on Wellington Straight, followed by a full one offering ‘cheap’ pit stops for Albon and Leclerc followed by Verstappen, Norris, Hamilton and Alonso.
In the confusion, it worked perfectly for Hamilton who came out third behind the top duo.
Intriguingly, Verstappen and Hamilton were on used softs while Norris and Piastri took hards, as did Ferrari, for the final 14 laps’ sprint.
Norris was unimpressed with his team’s cautious decision and reacted slowly when Verstappen darted clear. Hamilton attacked but his compatriot defended brilliantly before DRS was re-introduced.
With 10 laps to go, Verstappen led while Perez climbed to seventh and, astonishingly Albon sliced past Sainz for sixth.
On the day Williams celebrated their 800th Grand Prix, it was a timely thrill and, with McLaren shining, a throwback to another era.