Martin Brundle reviews British GP as Max Verstappen stars, Lando Norris battles Lewis Hamilton, Brad Pitt filming

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Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle delivers his expert verdict on the British GP weekend featuring a thrilling qualifying, Brad Pitt and another win for Max Verstappen.

That was a great weekend for Silverstone and the British Grand Prix. Qualifying was a cliffhanger with an ever-changing and drying racetrack, and I felt the race was well worth 85 minutes of my heartbeats.

The venue was teeming with fans from Thursday all the way through to post race, the track was rammed with F2, F3, and Porsche Supercup action, along with displays and the upcoming Brad Pitt movie race and camera cars on the track quite often too.

There was some concern in F1 circles that the movie would be very intrusive during a full-on F1 weekend, but along with their dedicated pit garage in the main F1 paddock, three F2 cars made to look like F1 cars in the support race paddock, what looked like a small village in the centre of the circuit, and even cars and crew on the formation lap grid, it all gelled together easily.

This yet-untitled movie and the upcoming Las Vegas race will be the next steps for F1’s remarkable growth in awareness and popularity. I’ve never seen anything remotely like this in F1.

Brad Pitt was thrilled to be in the paddock at Silverstone to film his new Formula One movie

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Brad Pitt was thrilled to be in the paddock at Silverstone to film his new Formula One movie

Brad Pitt was thrilled to be in the paddock at Silverstone to film his new Formula One movie

Verstappen the main F1 character

The lead actor in real F1 land continues to be Max Verstappen who from pole position won his sixth straight race for Red Bull, and his eighth this season so far. He was second in the other two races…

As his team-mate Sergio Perez sadly struggles to deliver the full potential of his Red Bull in recent races, once again we can say that if Max wasn’t so utterly at one with himself, this car, and his team, we’d be in the middle of one hell of a world championship.

In the early phases of the season it was all about Aston Martin leading the chase, but either they’ve been out-developed by other teams, or they have gone slightly the wrong way on their own developments, or a little of both, meaning that they’ve slipped back in the past two races.

Highlights from the British GP at Silverstone, as Max Verstappen looked to secure a sixth consecutive race win

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Highlights from the British GP at Silverstone, as Max Verstappen looked to secure a sixth consecutive race win

Highlights from the British GP at Silverstone, as Max Verstappen looked to secure a sixth consecutive race win

Mercedes keep polishing up their reluctant car – now apparently called Diva 2.0 – and from time to time it has shown some blistering race pace. But ‘knife edge’ appears to be its resting place in terms of drivability.

Ferrari also effectively tickled the SF-23 and it performed well in Austria and would line up fourth and fifth on the grid in Silverstone.

But entering stage left after a promising Austrian GP was the newly fettled McLaren which was plain fast around the scary and challenging corners of Silverstone in the hands of Lando Norris as well as the impressive Oscar Piastri.

Add to that the ability of Williams and Alpine to seriously threaten to join the ‘let’s get Max’ party and you’ll see what I mean about a stirring championship battle.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen was delighted after picking up his sixth straight win, with victory at Silverstone

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was delighted after picking up his sixth straight win, with victory at Silverstone

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was delighted after picking up his sixth straight win, with victory at Silverstone

No doubt the pack are closing Red Bull down

With a race day crowd of 160,000 Silverstone was bursting with energy. When the Red Arrows soar overhead I feel totally at home at a track where I first stood on the bank at Copse corner in 1965 watching Jim Clark win. Silverstone is unquestionably part of the fabric and foundation of Formula 1, and long may it last.

Verstappen’s pole position was hard won by just a quarter of a second from the flying McLarens, and he had to work for it. I have no doubt that the pack are closing in on Red Bull as they improve their cars and Red Bull are minimising 2023 updates and costs, and looking at the 2024 car already.

Another standout all weekend was Alex Albon for Williams who is driving so well lately in a much-improved car. I know all too well how brutal Formula 1 is, or indeed I imagine any top-level sport, but if you make a driver feel comfortable and valued and not having to looking over their shoulder all day long, then they will driver faster for longer.

Relive Lewis Hamilton's stunning fight for second at Silverstone with fellow Brit Lando Norris

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Relive Lewis Hamilton’s stunning fight for second at Silverstone with fellow Brit Lando Norris

Relive Lewis Hamilton’s stunning fight for second at Silverstone with fellow Brit Lando Norris

Second place on the grid at Silverstone seems on the face of it a bad place to be, it’s way off the racing line, tight into the hugely fast first corner, and giving a slipstream to the pack behind you. But so often lately it has meant taking the lead going into the first corner and the crowd loved Lando Norris surging into the lead nearly as much as he did.

It was inevitable that the on-form Verstappen would surge past in his mighty Red Bull as soon as the DRS open rear wing assistance was available from lap two, but while he had enough pace to control the race it was interesting that after the safety car he was complaining about struggling for grip. His mirrors are getting a little more work now.

I take no pleasure in writing this as I like and admire Sergio Perez as a person and a driver, but while Max reeled off six straight wins Sergio has had a second, third, fourth, two sixth places, and a 16th having spent the last five races recovering from qualifying dramas.

The Red Bull is not a car which can autonomously drive to guaranteed victory and the pack must sense that.

McLaren's Lando Norris was in positive spirits after finishing second in his home race at Silverstone

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McLaren’s Lando Norris was in positive spirits after finishing second in his home race at Silverstone

McLaren’s Lando Norris was in positive spirits after finishing second in his home race at Silverstone

A pleasure to see Norris vs Hamilton

The safety car deployed just over 30 laps into the race for Magnussen’s stricken Haas hurt those who had recently pitted, most notably Oscar Piastri who had been outstanding for McLaren. A rookie in his 10th ever F1 race, the 22-year-old, who grew up nearby Albert Park in Melbourne, continues to drive in a very assured way. He has that ‘old head on young shoulders’ demeanour and he’s a real find for McLaren.

His manager is Mark Webber, who very much knows which way is up in our business, and I’m sure is a source of direct and straightforward advice for both team and driver.

Piastri would be denied his maiden podium by Lewis Hamilton who made the most of his safety car good fortune with a great drive to his 14th British GP podium. I visited it once in 1992 and I’m extremely proud of that, so I can’t begin to imagine how he feels.

Max Verstappen's first win at Silverstone sees Red Bull claim their eleventh consecutive win; a record shared with McLaren

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Max Verstappen’s first win at Silverstone sees Red Bull claim their eleventh consecutive win; a record shared with McLaren

Max Verstappen’s first win at Silverstone sees Red Bull claim their eleventh consecutive win; a record shared with McLaren

The biggest story of the race was the restart after the safety car when both McLarens were on fresh hard compound tyres while those around them had lightly-used soft tyres fitted. It looked like a mistake and Norris clearly thought so, judging by his radio message.

But what would follow could arguably be considered as handing over the baton in British F1 driver terms.

The warm-up of the hard tyres would take longer than the two steps softer ‘soft’ tyres and both Norris and Hamilton were all too aware of that. Lewis had a handful of corners over a couple of laps, albeit with no DRS open rear wing available, to make second place his. He was aggressive and yet controlled but Lando positioned his car perfectly to block Lewis without any weaving or dirty driving.

It was a pleasure to watch and once he survived that phase then he could stretch his legs out of DRS range to finish nearly four seconds ahead of Hamilton who had Piastri right on his tail.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were left hugely impressed by the McLaren pair of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, following the British GP at Silverstone

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Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were left hugely impressed by the McLaren pair of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, following the British GP at Silverstone

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were left hugely impressed by the McLaren pair of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, following the British GP at Silverstone

McLaren hadn’t completed a single lap in the top five this season until the weekend before in Austria; now that’s what I call a car upgrade.

Two Brits on the podium for the first time in 24 years was just what many of the Silverstone crowd wanted as another cracking British GP came to a close.

Next up is Budapest, an altogether different challenge for car and driver.

MB

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