Formula One: Verstappen pips Sainz as Red Bull rule British GP practice

AFP , Friday 7 Jul 2023

Max Verstappen completed a dominant sweep of Friday's free practice sessions for Red Bull by narrowly outpacing Ferrari's Carlos Sainz on an intriguing day at the British Grand Prix.

Verstappen
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands steers his car during the second free practice at the British Formula One Grand Prix at the Silverstone racetrack, in Silverstone, England, Friday, July 7, 2023. The British Formula One Grand Prix will be held on Sunday. Photo: AP

 

The defending double world champion and runaway series leader, who was fastest ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez in the opening session, clocked a best lap in one minute and 28.078 seconds to outpace Sainz by 0.022 in second practice.

As Mercedes slithered and bounced around the former wartime airfield, now regarded as one of F1's best circuits, and Charles Leclerc was unable to run in his Ferrari, it was a chance for others to shine.

Williams' Alex Albon certainly responded by claiming third place, after being second earlier, ahead of Perez and his Williams team-mate Logan Sargeant, who was an excellent fifth.

The Williams resurgence, ahead of their 800th Grand Prix in Hungary later this month, pushed Lance Stroll down to sixth for Aston Martin with Nico Hulkenberg taking seventh for Haas.

Pierre Gasly was eighth for Alpine ahead of Oscar Piastri's McLaren and two-time champion Fernando Alonso in the second Aston Martin.

For Red Bull, Verstappen bids to deliver the team's record-equalling 11th consecutive victory, equalling the feat of McLaren in 1988. Verstappen seeks his sixth straight win.

The session began in warm sunshine with an air temperature of 27 degrees and the track at 42, conditions far better anticipated on Saturday, thunderstorms having been forecast.

The action was delayed by five minutes for a section of the track to be swept clean of debris from an earlier incident.

As expected, it was Verstappen who set the pace while the luckless Leclerc was left behind as his Ferrari crew worked on an electrical issue on his car.

Twenty minutes in, Sainz clocked a lap in 1:29.083 to go top as Zhou Guanyu pitted for a new steering wheel. At this stage, Piastri, in his revised McLaren, was up to second.

Verstappen regained the ascendancy after 27 minutes when he took softs to clock 1:28.078 shortly before Albon, as he had in the morning, split the Red Bulls to go second for Williams.

As if to exemplify his car's obstinate lack of performance, Hamilton clocked 1:29.583 after 33 minutes, his best at that point to climb to 11th before being pushed down a place by team-mate George Russell.

Mercedes were clearly struggling and all three British drivers were struggling outside the top ten, a scenario that made the London-born Thai, Albon, an additional adopted crowd favourite. Although born in Britain, he races for Thailand.

Ferrari's difficulties continued with Leclerc abandoning hope of joining the fray and, like Lando Norris and Hamilton, left frustrated by car performance issues.

"I've got no grip," reported Russell of his Mercedes. "Sliding all over the place." To which, there was no response broadcast on team radio as the former champions were put in the shade – Russell in 12th and Hamilton 15th, with Britain's other hope Norris 14th for McLaren.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

Short link: