Silverstone Takeaways: Verstappen wins, but McLaren star

Silverstone Takeaways: Verstappen wins, McLaren boys star

Silverstone Takeaways: Verstappen wins, but McLaren star

Max Verstappen finally won the real British Grand Prix, and from pole, but the real stars of the show at Silverstone last Sunday were the McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.

It is not the first win for Max around Silverstone as he won there back in 2020, but the record books show that he won the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, as in 2020 the event was renamed to celebrate 70 years since the first grand prix was held at the historic British venue back in 1950.

But now, Verstappen added the British Grand Prix to his resume, boasting 43 wins and 27 pole positions, as he is now only eight wins shy of four-time Formula 1 Champion Alain Prost who has 51 victories to his name.

It didn’t seem to be such a dominant victory for the Dutchman as he was only 3.8s ahead of Norris at the chequered flag while the biggest gap he was able to pull out was around nine seconds before the Safety Car came out after Kevin Magnussen’s Haas broke down in flames.

Qualifying was also tricky with a drying track and grip levels improving all the time, as Verstappen’s advantage of Norris was 0.241s.

But the accolades should be bestowed on McLaren who have thrashed everyone behind Red Bull and delivered a strong performance on merit to take second place building on their momentum from the Austrian Grand Prix.

And with McLaren, we begin our Takeaways from the 2023 British Grand Prix.

McLaren are now the second-best team

Hamilton and Russell envious of McLaren's new-found speed

We must be careful with this statement, as we have seen several teams taking turns on the second-best spot behind Red Bull with Aston Martin, Ferrari and Mercedes all occupying it for some time, most probably based on the development schedules of each of them.

McLaren showed improvement in Austria, the upgrades working out of the box, and while they has a shaky start for their weekend at Silverstone, they managed to get the car setup right with Norris and Piastri qualifying second and third.

Their race pace was even more admirable, keeping Verstappen in sight, and only lost third place to Lewis Hamilton due to bad luck with the timing of the Safety Car, otherwise second and third were definitely on the cards for the Papaya cars.

With two races at two different tracks going well for McLaren, it would be fair to say that they have set themselves on the track to recovery, but Hungary is up next, and it is a twisty track with slow corners which will be the test if the Woking squad have now produced a car that works almost everywhere.

Norris warned the MCL60 is rubbish in slow corners, trying to manage expectations for Hungary, as if he knows McLaren will struggle there after the highs of Silverstone.

Well in two weeks’ time, we will find out how good McLaren have become…

Oscar Piastri comes of age and justifies the fuss

Zak Brown moved heaven and earth to bring Piastri from Alpine to replace the struggling Daniel Ricciardo, and after the rookie’s performance last weekend, the decision to hire him seems to have been an inspired one.

To be fair, Piastri has been quietly getting up to speed since the start of 2023, and even before Silverstone, proved he was closer to Norris than Ricciardo ever was, sorry Dan!

But at the British Grand Prix, the young Aussie showed his true mettle, as he didn’t take too much time to get used to the upgraded MCL60 put at his disposal just last Friday while Norris had it in Austria.

He was just 0.131s off Norris’ qualifying time, and while the latter had a lightning start to his race, jumping Verstappen briefly into the lead, the former’s start was in no way less impressive.

Piastri may have been shy fighting Verstappen at the start who made quick work of him before setting off to regain his first place from Norris, but I will give him that it was his first race at such an advanced position and he would’ve wanted to be a bit cautious. It was the smart thing to do, not being overzealous, playing the long game and avoiding doing something stupid.

During the race, Piastri was matching Norris’ lap times and maturely accepted team directions not to attack his teammate, and he was simply unlucky to miss out on the podium to Lewis Hamilton, of course not to mention the latter’s incredible luck at Silverstone.

Don’t misunderstand me, Lewis is always there to grab any opportunities, but his hit rate at Silverstone is just incredible, and the way he always comes back strong despite difficulties just proves his strong connection to his home race.

Going back to Piastri, he took the result on the chin, evident from what he said after the race and he should be commended for that, but his time will definitely come.

Is that alarm bells we’re hearing from Aston Martin’s new campus?

Aston Martin Technology Campus open ahead of British Grand Prix

The only time Aston Martin got any attention, positive that it, was when they announced their new campus is now operating, but their clear dip in performance is worrying.

Fernando Alonso qualified ninth, his worst starting position this season, and had an anonymous race to seventh. Lance Stroll finished 14th following some shenanigans racing Pierre Gasly that saw the Frenchman retire with a damaged car.

We’ve said it before that Aston Martin should keep up the development pace following their impressive start to the season especially when they are fighting the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari. Now they have to also fight with McLaren who have joined the second-best group of nominees.

Aston Martin have upgraded their AMR23, and while Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren showed marked improvement following theirs – regardless of how long that lasted – the Green Cars didn’t show the same performance gains.

Mike Krack revealed there are upgrades planned for the coming three races, and Alonso insists there is no reason to panic. Time will prove if the Spaniard is right.

Quick Hits

Silverstone Takeaways: Verstappen wins, but McLaren stars

  • A dismal race for Ferrari after an encouraging Austrian Grand Prix where Charles Leclerc took second place. The Reds were slow regardless of the tyres they were on which makes talk about tyre choices and strategy pointless. They were beaten by a Williams for crying out loud!
  • Speaking of Ferrari, what is going on with their power units bolted to the Haas cars? Are Haas compromising the unit in the way they install and operate them? Usually, a customer team gets certain directives/guidelines from the supplier on how to install and operate the units, and Ferrari don’t seem to be suffering such failures.
  • A great performance again by Alex Albon in the Williams, eighth is far from the two second-places he achieved in practice, but nevertheless a decent effort.
  • With Nyck de Vries replaced by Ricciardo bubbling ominously in the background, the ‘Where-is-the-real-Sergio-Perez?’ saga continues in the Red Bull camp…