08 July 2023

Max Verstappen pips Lando Norris to pole position at British Grand Prix

08 July 2023

Max Verstappen dented Lando Norris’ dream of a shock pole position at the British Grand Prix by taking top spot in the closing seconds of a dramatic qualifying session.

Norris surged to the summit of the order to the delight of the Silverstone crowd, only to see Verstappen snatch pole by 0.241 seconds as the last driver over the line.

Norris starts alongside Verstappen, who took his fifth consecutive pole, with Oscar Piastri third on an excellent day for McLaren at the British team’s home race.

Lewis Hamilton could manage only seventh, one place behind George Russell in the other Mercedes.

“It was a crazy qualifying session and quite hectic,” said Verstappen. “I was surprised to see those two (Norris and Piastri) there but it was great for McLaren.

“I am looking forward to tomorrow.”

Norris said: “I was close. Pretty insane. My last lap was a good lap. I could hear Zak (Brown, the McLaren CEO) on the radio during the in lap which was the best thing ever.

“To be second and third was amazing for the whole team. But Max ruins everything for everyone. I am happy for the whole crowd here. I look forward to tomorrow.”

Verstappen, a winner at seven of the opening nine rounds of a one-sided campaign, has already established a commanding 81-point lead in his pursuit of a hat-trick of world championships

The Dutch driver cruised to the chequered flag a week ago at Red Bull’s home race in Austria and he will head into Sunday’s race favourite to extend his lead, particularly after Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez failed to make it out of Q1. He lines up a lowly 16th.

No driver has won the British Grand Prix on more occasions than Hamilton, with the 38-year-old winning seven of the last 10 races staged here.

But the Mercedes man will be disappointed to start only seventh, half-a-second off the pace, in front of his home fans.

Perez’s dismal run of form continued after he was eliminated from the opening phase of qualifying.

The Mexican was first out of the pits when the action resumed following a red flag to clear Kevin Magnussen’s Haas.

Perez momentarily headed to the top of the order, but the evolution of the track saw him tumble all the way down to 16th when Q1 came to an end.

It marked the fifth consecutive race in which Perez has failed to make it into Q3 in a machine Hamilton described as the fastest Formula One has ever seen.

Perez’s early exit capped a frantic few minutes which saw Verstappen and Hamilton dice for position on a piece of asphalt now named after Britain’s seven-time world champion.

Verstappen fought his way ahead of Hamilton, with the latter almost colliding with the Alpine of Pierre Gasly in the mad scramble to post a lap before the chequered flag fell.

Prior to that, Verstappen required a new front wing after he grazed the wall along the pits just moments after he left his garage.

And even earlier Hamilton survived a spin through the gravel when he lost his control of his Mercedes on the entry to Stowe.

Despite the threat of action from Just Stop Oil protesters, qualifying passed off without incident.

However, F1 bosses, Silverstone and Northamptonshire Police remain on high alert that a protest could yet disrupt Sunday’s 52-lap race where 150,000 spectators are expected to attend.

Security has been beefed up, with facial recognition cameras posted around the 3.66 mile track in a move to foil a potential plot.

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