Max Verstappen wins the British Grand Prix after surviving early scare from Lando Norris



By Jonathan McEvoy for the Daily Mail

16:29 09 Jul 2023, updated 20:28 09 Jul 2023

  • Norris took Verstappen off the line but the world champion won the place back
  • The McLaren star held off Hamilton who jumped up to third after the safety car 
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‘Lando, Lando, Lando,’ rang the chants of the Silverstone crowd. And over in the McLaren motorhome they were pouring glasses of champagne.

Officially, and predictably, Max Verstappen won the British Grand Prix. He pretty much always wins these days, this being his sixth victory in a row and eighth out of 10. But in the only battle open to mortals, it was 23-year-old Lando Norris who took the honours.

Second place to him with Lewis Hamilton third. So the younger man, who fell in love with Formula One watching Hamilton light up the world, ended the day as the top Briton on display.

He did so on merit and by holding off Hamilton’s charge on soft tyres – to his hards – during a couple of heart-stopping minutes in which they close danced around the fast and famous corners of the former World War Two airfield.

This was after the withdrawal of the safety car, which had moved Hamilton from seventh to third. Lap 39 of 52, and Norris weaved left to break the tow. Hamilton went down the outside of Brooklands and Luffield and, pulled by a slipstream, attempted to pass on the outside at Copse. Norris was having none of it.

He survived an early scare after being overtaken by home favourite Lando Norris off the line
Norris finished second, with Lewis Hamilton third after pushing his fellow Brit in the race

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Next lap, a scrap through Luffield and Woodcote until they were cheek by jowl at 180mph on the way to Copse. Hamilton was forced to yield. He still hoped he could use DRS to wrest second place but Norris soon put himself beyond range of attack from behind.

His triumph in this duel wasn’t a changing of the guard or anything so momentous as that. But that Norris held his nerve and form, in a faster car but on slower rubber, was testament to his maturing ability, and McLaren’s remarkable transformation from the milk float they started with in Bahrain into what, at least on this track, was the closest challenger to the rocket-fast Red Bulls.

Norris was thrilled by his day. He even led the race to loud cheers as he made a perfect start from second on the grid. Verstappen, on pole, had wheelspin and Norris carved through the inside. Nobody thought it would last and normal service was resumed by the double and reigning world champion five laps later, en route to establishing a 99-point lead in the drivers’ standings.

This was Norris’s seventh podium, his first for more than a year, and only one his father Adam had witnessed live.

This latest success achieved, Norris wants to put up his ladder towards the stars. ‘I was seven years old when I first watched Lewis race here. I’d never been to a Formula One race until 2017; I’d only ever watched it on TV.

‘Seeing Lewis and Fernando (Alonso) at McLaren is what made me want to be a racing driver, and now it is my turn. Little did I know Lewis would still be going strong 15 years later. It’s a privilege to race with these guys. It’s special.

‘I want to be someone who can join in on those battles in the years ahead and create some of my own history.’

Hamilton was also generous in his assessment of the ‘talented’ Norris, even if you may detect a sly dig at his nemesis Verstappen in the following remarks. ‘It is good when you can have a close battle like that and rely on a driver to be hard but fair,’ said the seven-time champion.

‘There was never a moment when we felt there would be a coming together. And that’s what motor racing is all about. We’ll keep pushing at Mercedes and hope there are some more of this to come.’

Norris’ early lead – the first time a British McLaren driver has led at Silverstone since 2012 – was a hit with local fans
Norris held off Hamilton despite expressing his frustrations at being put on the hard tyre

Norris rated it the most enjoyable podium the best of his career, for being at home and the crowd being 160,000 strong (and thankfully without Just Stop Oil agitators among the throng). It was also perhaps his best drive and most consistent weekend.

Credit also should be extended to his team-mate Oscar Piastri, the Australian rookie of 22, who would likely have finished third but for the safety car’s intervention. He finished fourth, a place ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell.

Talking of the Silver Arrows, they do not seem to have eradicated their problems, however much they have modified their design. That is crushing for them. Little wonder team principal Toto Wolff talked of possibly turning their attention to next year’s car.

Yet Red Bull may not have it entirely their own way in the ensuing weeks, seeing as Verstappen’s margin of victory was a slender 3.7 seconds rather than the usual chasm achieved at a canter.

Of course, this championship is over before the half-way mark, and Red Bull hold all the aces, but there is a glimmer of hope that a contest could break out next season.

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