(Silverstone) Max Verstappen continued his momentum by dominating the first two free practice sessions which took place under sunny skies on Friday at the British Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Verstappen recorded a time of one minute and 28.078 seconds on the Silverstone circuit, slicing just 22 thousandths of a second off the time of Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz Jr., reigning champion of the event.
The Dutchman will be eyeing an eighth victory in 10 races this season on Sunday as he cruises towards a third consecutive world championship. Verstappen could also become the fifth driver in F1 history to record six consecutive victories, and the first since Nico Rosberg at Mercedes in 2015 and 2016.
This kind of dominance from Verstappen and Red Bull this season is already historic. The Austrian team is the first to have won the first nine stages of a season since McLaren’s 11 victories in 1988.
That season, McLaren drivers Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost fought a spectacular battle. Which is not the case in 2023 between Verstappen and Perez. The Mexican certainly started the campaign with a bang, but since then he has been chomping at the bit. Perez constantly struggles in qualifying, and is now second in the championship 81 points behind Verstappen.
This, however, was another British team that caught the eye on Friday.
Williams driver Alexander Albon again surprised everyone a bit by claiming the third fastest time, 0.218 seconds behind the reigning double world champion. He had also obtained the third fastest time earlier in the morning.
Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez took fourth, ahead of fellow Williams driver Logan Sergeant.
For his part, Quebecer Lance Stroll followed with the sixth fastest time, 0.788 seconds behind Verstappen. However, the session was not easy for the Aston Martin driver, who lost a mirror on the track and received a rock on his finger.
Fernando Alonso, driving his Aston Martin car, was content with the 10th time. The Spaniard was particularly annoyed by problems with the left front of his car.
Lewis Hamilton finished 15th in his Mercedes. The Briton, seven-time world champion, has won seven of the last nine races presented at home.
It should be noted that Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc was unable to record a time, due to a technical problem with his single-seater.
The Scuderia mechanics rushed to the Monegasque’s car from the first moments of the second free practice session, in the hope of settling an electrical issue. However, they could not find the source of the problem, and instead decided to focus on the third free practice session which will take place on Saturday morning.
This will be followed, a few hours later, by the qualifying session for the British Grand Prix.
Verstappen still tops the drivers’ standings with 229 points, well ahead of Perez (148), Alonso (131) and Hamilton (106). Stroll is eighth at 44.
In the constructors’ standings, Red Bull tops the competition with 377 points. Mercedes (178), Aston Martin (175) and Ferrari (154) follow in order.