Max Verstappen claimed his first British Grand Prix victory on Sunday to deliver a record-equalling 11th consecutive win for his Red Bull team and his sixth in successive races. In a race of attrition, interrupted by safety cars and influenced by tyre-wear, the Dutchman came home almost four seconds ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris who held off Mercedes’ seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton in a thrilling finale. It was Verstappen’s 43rd career win and his eighth in 10 races this year as he increased his lead ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez in the drivers’ championship to 99 points.
Norris’s McLaren team-mate Australian rookie Oscar Piastri finished fourth ahead of George Russell, Perez, two-time champion Fernand Alonso of Aston Martin and Williams’ Alex Albon
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz came home ninth and 10th, a disappointing result for the Italian team after they had started from fourth and fifth on the grid.
For Norris, who led the opening laps after beating Verstappen at the start, it was his best result since finishing second at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix while for Hamilton, a record eight-time winner at his home race, it was a 14th British podium.
“Yes, a good race,” said Verstappen.
“The last stint was more difficult than I would have liked on these tyres, but a great job by the team again.
“Eleven in a row! That’s pretty crazy. Well done everyone.”
Red Bull drew level with McLaren who reeled off 11 wins in 1988.
The race began in warm and dry conditions, following light rain, as Norris, from second on the grid, took advantage of a sluggish start by Verstappen who held off Piastri to retain second.
The pre-event pomp and ceremony had been given a unique Hollywood twist with film star Brad Pitt joining the drivers for Damian Lewis’s rendition of the British anthem, standing close to Verstappen, who may have been distracted.
The Dutchman recovered his poise and when Drag Reduction System (DRS) was initiated, he swept past the Briton on lap five to lead while Hamilton, after a difficult start, climbed from ninth to seventh.
By lap 15, Verstappen’s lead was 3.1 seconds as light drizzle began. Further back, Perez was carving through the field from 15th, following his fifth consecutive qualifying flop.
Leclerc was the first leading contender to pit after 19 laps, switching from mediums to hards and re-joining 12th. Spotting this, on a trackside big screen, Verstappen quizzed his team for reaction only to be told it was of “no concern”.
It was a clear signal of spare performance capacity. He responded with a series of fastest laps to stretch his lead to 6.5sec by half-distance on lap 26 when Sainz pitted for hards.
Ferrari’s strategy handed fourth and fifth to the Mercedes duo, behind the two McLarens, with Alonso sixth, six seconds adrift before Russell, Perez and Piastri came in, shaking up the top order.
Leclerc and Russell were soon engaged in an exciting scrap for seventh before Kevin Magnussen pulled up his Haas with an engine failure on Wellington Straight.
A virtual safety car was deployed, followed by a full one offering ‘cheap’ pit stops for Albon and Leclerc followed by Verstappen, Norris, Hamilton and Alonso.
In the confusion, it worked perfectly for Hamilton who came out third behind the top duo and ahead of Piastri, Russell and Alonso.
Intriguingly, Verstappen and Hamilton were on used softs while Norris and Piastri took hards, as did Ferrari, for the final 14 laps’ sprint.
Norris was unimpressed with his team’s cautious decision and reacted slowly when Verstappen darted clear. Hamilton attacked but his compatriot defended brilliantly before DRS was re-introduced.
With 10 laps to go, Verstappen led by 3.2 seconds while Perez climbed to seventh and, astonishingly Albon sliced past Sainz for sixth.
On the day Williams celebrated their 800th Grand Prix, it was a timely thrill and, with McLaren shining, a throwback to another era.