In practice for a new-look British Grand Prix on Friday, Red Bull’s Formula One championship leader Max Verstappen was fastest by a significant margin, with home hero Lewis Hamilton finishing third on the timesheets.
The 23-year-old Dutchman set the fastest time of one minute 27.035 seconds on a beautiful afternoon, with fans packing the grandstands on a day of action as Formula One experimented with a new format.
That was 0.779 seconds faster than McLaren’s Lando Norris, who pipped Mercedes’ seven-time world champion by 0.001 seconds in a major boost for a youngster still disturbed by a mugging at the Euro 2020 soccer final last Sunday.
“Seven tenths? Where does that come from?,” Hamilton asked his engineer over the radio when the team, who have brought some car upgrades to Silverstone, informed him of the gap to Verstappen.
The usual second Friday practise session has been replaced with qualifying for a new 17-lap sprint race on Saturday, which will determine the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix and award points to the top three finishers.
Hamilton is aiming for a record-extending eighth British Grand Prix victory this weekend, but Verstappen and Red Bull are riding high, with the youngster leading the standings by 32 points after nine races.
While Mercedes has made Silverstone a stronghold in previous years, Red Bull is on a roll and hunting a sixth successive victory. Charles Leclerc of Ferrari was fourth fastest, with Valtteri Bottas of Hamilton’s team fifth. The third Briton in action, George Russell, was last on the timesheets with Williams.