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F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain - Qualifying NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 08: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W14 ahead of Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 in the Pitlane during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 08, 2023 in Northampton, England.

Verstappen takes pole ahead of McLaren duo in chaotic British Grand Prix qualifying

There was lots of anticipation going into qualifying for the British Grand Prix. What was the weather going to do and was Williams' impressive pace in practice sessions genuine?

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Max Verstappen takes pole for Red Bull in a chaotic qualifying session at the British Grand Prix ahead of McLaren duo Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.

Red Bull, Max Verstappen, Mercedes, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Formula 1, British Grand Prix, McLaren, soft, intermediate
Mixture of soft an intermediate tyres going out of the pitlane (Image Credit: @F1 on Twitter)

Lots of anticipation was present before qualifying had even started. The surprise of the pace of the Williams car during all three practice sessions had many intrigued as to what they could achieve.

Alex Albon finished third quickest in FP1 and FP2 on Friday. Despite having car issues at the start of FP3, the Thai driver managed to produce, yet again, another impressive lap to end the final practice session second-quickest.

The pace of the Williams has certainly caught the eye of Red Bull boss Christian Horner. The 49-year-old believes that the Grove team could be in the mix with the group behind the Austrian team – alongside Aston Martin, Ferrari and Mercedes. Therefore, could Williams get into Q3?

Q1

The lights went green, followed with both Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton leading all the cars out of the pitlane. A mixture of soft and intermediate tyres were seen going down the pitlane. Five drivers – including both Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz – opted for the intermediates.

Race control opted to disable DRS after rain hampered the Formula 2 sprint race. However, Leclerc tells his team on the radio to box for slick tyres.

Russell was the first driver to set a laptime. The Briton set a 1:35.257 on the soft tyre. Meanwhile, his teammate Hamilton spun his Mercedes W14 at Stowe, going into the gravel. However, the seven-time world champion was able to continue.

Five minutes into the session saw Alpine driver Esteban Ocon go to the top of the timesheets. The Frenchman set a time of a 1:34.204. However, he was quickly beaten by Max Verstappen, setting a 1:33.535 on the soft tyre.

A minute later would see Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso smash Verstappen’s time. The Spaniard put his Aston Martin at the top with a time of a 1:31.437. After Alonso’s time, Williams driver Logan Sargeant reported of the rain starting to fall down.

However, Russell would once again find himself at the top, setting a 1:31.414. But not for long as Alonso went quickest again, setting a 1:30.730.

Verstappen would then quickly go back to the top – only going 0.011 seconds quicker than the Aston Martin driver.

With six minutes to go, Russell reports that “it is raining everywhere”, which is not good new for Alex Albon. The Thai driver had his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits at Stowe.

Red flag

With three minutes and 11 seconds to go, a red flag was brought out. Haas driver Kevin Magnussen stopped on track next to the pitlane. Could the drivers in the bottom five have enough time to improve their lap times?

Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Formula 1, British Grand Prix, Max Verstappen
Kevin Magnussen stopping on track on entry to the Vale Chicane (Image Credit: @F1 on Twitter)

The cars went out of their garages to go back out to the pitlane. However, Verstappen did not find it easy. The Dutchman broke his front wing, understeering into the wall. The reigning world champion had to get his front wing repaired.

All driver scrambled to get out of the pitlane to set a lap time. Although rain had been reported, the track was ramping up.

This was shown as Sergio Perez briefly went quickest, setting a 1:29.968. However, the Mexican was quickly beaten by five tenths by Albon, setting a 1:29.466. The Thai’s teammate Sargeant managed a time of a 1:29.873.

Lando Norris would then go quickest. The McLaren driver broke into the 1:28’s, setting a 1:28.917. The Briton was the only driver to end Q1 in the 1:28’s.

Meanwhile, despite Perez setting the quickest time briefly, the Mexican would be knocked out in Q1, qualifying in 16th. The Red Bull driver has now not made Q3 in the past five races. Is the Mexican under severe pressure to keep his seat at the Austrian team?

The 31-year-old was joined by Yuki Tsunoda, Zhou Guanyu, Nyck de Vries and Kevin Magnussen in the drop zone, who all went out in Q1.

The first stage of qualifying was not done there, as Valtteri Bottas reported no power in sector two during his in lap.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Formula 1
Perez has not made Q3 in the past five race weekends (Image Credit: @F1 on Twitter)
Q2

After a lengthy delay, Q2 finally commenced. Fernando Alonso lead out the drivers out of the pitlane. All drivers bolted on the soft compound tyre.

A mixture of feelings were amongst the pit wall as Alonso’s engineer told his driver “light rain any minute now”. However, Norris’ engineer told his driver “no rain expected”.

Alonso was the first driver to set a lap time in Q2. The Spaniard set a time of a 1:30.660. However, the Aston Martin driver was quickly beaten by Norris, setting a 1:29.427.

Interestingly, Verstappen could not beat Norris’ time, going 0.078 seconds slower than the McLaren driver.

Seven minutes in, Alonso would reclaim the top spot off of Norris. The Spaniard set a 1:29.052, closely followed by Albon, who was a tenth behind the Aston Martin driver.

With five minutes to go Verstappen briefly went to the top, setting a 1:28.570. However, McLaren driver Oscar Piastri beat the Dutchman’s time by 0.003 seconds.

Hamilton would then give the fans something to cheer going to the top by 0.022 seconds. However, fellow Briton Norris smashed the Mercedes drivers time by five tenths, setting a 1:28.042.

On the last runs, Verstappen set all three purple sectors, going quickest. The Dutchman broke into the 1:27’s, setting a 1:27.702.

The five drivers who were eliminated from Q2 were: Nico Hulkenberg, Lance Stroll, Esteban Ocon, Logan Sargeant and Valtteri Bottas – who could not participate in Q2 due to engine issues.

Alfa Romeo, Valtteri Bottas, British Grand Prix
Valtteri Bottas could not take part in Q2 (Image Credit: @F1 on Twitter)
Q3

The lights went green for the final 12 minutes of qualifying. Both Mercedes drivers lead the way out of the pitlane. DRS was also enabled for the final stage of qualifying. Could this suit Red Bull?

Hamilton set the pace, setting a 1:27.717 on used soft tyres. However, Verstappen went six tenths quicker than the Mercedes driver, setting a 1:27.084 on a brand new set of soft tyres to take provisional pole.

Leclerc’s final run was not enough to beat Verstappen’s time, despite setting the fastest first sector.

However, Norris would go up to provisional pole, setting a 1:26.961. But Verstappen would take pole, setting a 1:26.720.

Top 10
  1. Max Verstappen
  2. Lando Norris
  3. Oscar Piastri
  4. Charles Leclerc
  5. Carlos Sainz
  6. George Russell
  7. Lewis Hamilton
  8. Alex Albon
  9. Fernando Alonso
  10. Pierre Gasly

Full results of the 2023 British Grand Prix qualifying session can be found here

Feature Image Credit: Mark Thompson via Getty Images

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