Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2021

Flying Verstappen fastest by far in only practice session before qualifying

2021 British Grand Prix first practice

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No one could get within three-quarters of a second of Max Verstappen in the only practice session before qualifying for the British Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver ended the first hour of practice – held, unusually, in the afternoon – 0.779 seconds ahead of Lando Norris. Verstappen’s championship rival Lewis Hamilton was one-thousandth of a second further behind in third.

“Seven tenths?” Hamilton replied on his radio when told of his deficit to the championship leader. “Where does that come from?”

Mercedes had an early lead in the session, with Hamilton initially topping the times and Valtteri Bottas behind him in second. However, even then the Red Bull cars were third and fourth fastest and that was having set their own times on hard tyres, to the Mercedes drivers’ medium tyre laps.

Verstappen got – and kept – the upper hand on his first medium run, becoming the first driver to dip into the 1’27 times. Sergio Perez was initially able to match him for second but slipped further down the pack as the session went on, running what seemed to be a longer stint programme.

Part-way through a medium tyre stint Hamilton complained about blistering on his front right tyre. At the time, he had done 14 laps on the tyre but went on to complete a 21 lap run on the set.

Although Hamilton did improve his time towards the end of the session, the fastest Mercedes-powered driver was Lando Norris, who beat Hamilton by a thousandth of a second. Norris still had a gap of 0.779 seconds to Verstappen’s time but showed he remains a threat to frontrunners in qualifying.

Aside from one spin by Carlos Sainz Jnr there was no real error made by a driver. However, some seemed misplaced in the order. Lance Stroll finished 18th fastest and a second-and-a-half behind team mate Sebastian Vettel, who was seventh-fastest. At the end of the session, Stroll said on radio that he had “no confidence in the car.”

George Russell set the slowest time posted, however the lap time he had deleted for a track limits infringement would have put him ahead of Nikita Mazepin.

Most of drivers’ best times during first practice were set on medium tyres; however, when it comes to qualifying for the sprint race in a few hours, they are obligated to use soft tyres. The McLaren and AlphaTauri drivers, plus Fernando Alonso and Stroll, did not use the soft tyres during first practice.

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2021 British Grand Prix first practice result

Pos. No. Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1’27.035 22
2 4 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1’27.814 0.779 25
3 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’27.815 0.780 29
4 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1’27.828 0.793 25
5 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1’27.897 0.862 28
6 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari 1’27.923 0.888 24
7 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’28.062 1.027 22
8 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 1’28.163 1.128 24
9 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1’28.211 1.176 27
10 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1’28.415 1.380 23
11 10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1’28.449 1.414 27
12 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 1’28.600 1.565 27
13 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’28.827 1.792 25
14 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1’28.873 1.838 22
15 7 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’29.220 2.185 26
16 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1’29.227 2.192 26
17 47 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1’29.227 2.192 23
18 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’29.597 2.562 20
19 9 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1’29.808 2.773 22
20 63 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1’29.857 2.822 27

First practice visual gaps

Max Verstappen – 1’27.035

+0.779 Lando Norris – 1’27.814

+0.780 Lewis Hamilton – 1’27.815

+0.793 Charles Leclerc – 1’27.828

+0.862 Valtteri Bottas – 1’27.897

+0.888 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’27.923

+1.027 Sebastian Vettel – 1’28.062

+1.128 Sergio Perez – 1’28.163

+1.176 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’28.211

+1.380 Esteban Ocon – 1’28.415

+1.414 Pierre Gasly – 1’28.449

+1.565 Yuki Tsunoda – 1’28.600

+1.792 Antonio Giovinazzi – 1’28.827

+1.838 Fernando Alonso – 1’28.873

+2.185 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’29.220

+2.192 Nicholas Latifi – 1’29.227

+2.192 Mick Schumacher – 1’29.227

+2.562 Lance Stroll – 1’29.597

+2.773 Nikita Mazepin – 1’29.808

+2.822 George Russell – 1’29.857

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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2021 British Grand Prix

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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64 comments on “Flying Verstappen fastest by far in only practice session before qualifying”

  1. Somehow I doubt this is representative

    1. a second faster than his teammate; what’s going on with that man?

      1. Perez did all the running on the hard tyres I believe.

        1. Perez did similar to Verstappen with tyre usage.

        2. No Perez set his time also on the soft tyre

    2. Why not? Qualifying is the next session. This almost akin to FP3.

      1. Because this just doesn’t happen. I’m skeptical.

      2. @john-h I did say

        1. Judging after qualifying, this seemed indeed like a fp3 time, so in a way you were both right: was like a fp3 and not representative.

  2. I am keen to see Silverstone at 18:00 time. Was it stated why they would start this qualifying that late? Otherwise, they could have just done it at same time as normal FP2, which would have been this session.

    1. @krichelle So that people on trackside and Europe, in general, have a higher chance of attending and watching than if the session occurred in the afternoon because of a standard work day.

      1. Dang quick response there. Just worried that it might be too dark at the track. But it should be alright I guess

        1. Sunset today is about 21:10 local time. They’ll be fine.

          1. Shoot… forgot that in summer, sunsets are a lot later…

    2. someone or something
      16th July 2021, 15:42

      Viewership figures. Lots of people have more important things to do on a Friday afternoon.

    3. @krichelle They moved it later because when having qualifying on Friday was first announced many fans complained they wouldn’t be able to watch due to been at work or school so by moving it later they are hoping more people will be able to watch live.

    4. Supposedly viewership, though it is not clear if the priority was those in Europe or those in the USA – there is a suggestion that the times are being optimised for the latter and not the former.

      1. In the center of Canada qualifying is at 10, there’s zero chance it’s adjusted for the states, definitely for the UK

        1. 11* but point still stands, east coast would be 1 o’clock, not particularly handy

      2. someone or something
        16th July 2021, 17:13

        I understand your scepticism, but in this case, I don’t think this assumption makes too much sense.
        While the USA remain a large potential market I don’t see how holding a qualifying session at 1 PM (EST) on a working day is supposed to attract a larger audience. Even if we suppose that F1 fans from the US are on average flexible enough in, or unburdened by, working hours, the numerical difference this might make is probably outweighed by European viewership figures by far. And for Europe, it does make sense not to hold a qualifying session at a time of the day when you can expect most of your viewership to be at work/school/uni.
        However, I do think your argument makes sense with regards to the “”Sprint Qualifying””. Not hugely so, but maybe you can expect viewership figures to increase a little by holding the session at 11:30 AM instead of 10 AM (=15:00 local time in Silverstone), without losing too many viewers in Europe.

        But then again, I may be completely off the track trying to make sense of something that, has “nonsense” written all over it (referring to the experimental weekend format).

  3. So if the cars are in Parc Ferme before Qually, and there’s another practice session before the Sprint Race, are they allowed to make adjustments during FP2, even though the sprint race order will be set by today’s qually? I’m assuming that after the sprint, they’ll be in parc again

    1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      16th July 2021, 15:47

      @zapski They are only allowed to change a prescribed list including clutch and consumables after today, no suspension or aero can be changed after quali this evening.

      1. @davewillisporter They will only be allowed to change the clutch if they can show it has suffered significant wear.

        Teams had asked to be allowed to shim the clutch which is something they usually do before qualifying so it’s fresh for the start of the race & there was concern from several teams that not been allowed to do so will end up with them having to do less running in FP2.

        They had also asked to be allowed to fit a new plank before the sprint but that will also not be allowed which also caused teams to raise concerns about limiting running during FP2.

        1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          16th July 2021, 20:02

          @stefmeister true, but the greater point of the original inquiry is what can be changed in performance terms to which the correct answer is, nothing! My job, both professionally and online is to explain things in simple terms. Shims don’t translate very well to non tech people!

      2. According to the new rules old parts, previously used can be used for a change.
        So, not only the clutch. Not sure how to interpret this.

  4. Sounds like the seasons over to me.

    Well done Max and Rbr, special mention FIA.

    1. Seriously, I think we are going to see Verstappen win 90% of the races left this season since Perez is so sub par. Great effort by Redbull though!

    2. Yep, congratulations to Max on being the 2021 WDC and RB on winning the WCC.
      Cant remember the last time you knew the season was over in July?

      1. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
        16th July 2021, 15:51


        1. Not really, there was always the chance that BOT could pull off a fight back, this is a slam dunk as PER is as useful as an ashtray in that car.

          1. Bottas… Fighting… And Mercedes would have let him? Hahahahahahaaa

          2. These ‘Bottas could fight back’ jokes are not funny anymore.

          3. Why not?, they let Rosberg fight, like I said, at least there was the possibility, with Perez you know for certain it ain’t gonna happen, I wouldn’t be surprised if Paddy Power start payouts on Max winning the WDC in a race or two.

          4. @@f1-plossl last year one third into the season Bottas with a dominant car was even behind Max, let alone Hamilton. There was not a chance of a Bottas fightback and you know it.

          5. PER is as useful as an ashtray in that car.

            If you’re going to chuck colloqialisms around, at least get them right: you mean “as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike”. As an ashtray is technically quite useful

          6. I used ‘ashtray in that car’ and not motorbike because it had a double take of Perez isnt good in that car and an ashtray would be no good in that car ( being an open cockpit ), but whoosh it flew over your head

          7. Rodric Ewulf
            16th July 2021, 17:22

            2020 WDC for the leading team drivers up to the 9th GP: Hamilton 190pts. Bottas 135pts. (55 points difference)

            2021 WDC for the leading team drivers up to the 9th GP: Verstappen 182pts. Perez 104pts. (78 points difference)

            At first glance it looks like Bottas was doing a better job last year than Perez is doing this year, but it fails to take into account how Mercedes is still closer to Red Bull than the roles reversed in 2020, whilst many of Verstappen/Red Bull wins were tight ones this year, and a lot of people conveniently like to forget that. But if you believe Bottas really had such a huge slump in performance this year, then if you look beyond team-mate relative terms Hamilton had it as well (in 2021 up to now Bottas is just 58 points behind Hamilton even without scoring in 3 races out of 9). So the real reason why Verstappen has a bigger scoring delta +78 pts. on Perez this year is due the consistent top form of Max (something that is difficult for Lewis fans to digest) instead of consistently bad performances of the second driver, at least when compared to Mercedes’ second driver. Had Hamilton not wasted so much points in two or three races the gap between team-mates would be nearly equal indeed, but instead let’s push the narrative that Perez is terrible to hide the fact that Verstappen scored dozens of points additionally due to simply not dropping the ball like Ham did a couple of times this season.

          8. @f1-plossl About your second comment, Rosberg vs Hamilton was a different, completely different situation. Rosberg was the “senior” at the team, he brought them their first victory in 2013. That victory helped Lauda to convince Hamilton they were on the rise, and actually a winning team. After the 2016 conflicts, Hamilton became the senior and thus he MIGHT have had a say in the way Bottas was admitted to the team. Wolff doesn’t want / need another 2016 happening. And honestly I don’t think Russell will go to Mercedes yet. Latest comments by Hamilton saying “he doesn’t want a selfish teammate” sounds to me Russell will be on the Williams “bench” until / if Hamilton wins another championship.

        2. Well, we only had three races in July in 2020, so it was still rather open :)

          1. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
            16th July 2021, 17:39

            That was my point. The championship results were a given after the first few races.

      2. Matthew Bees
        16th July 2021, 16:02

        2002 when Schumacher won the French GP to clinch the title :)

      3. Tommy Scragend
        16th July 2021, 16:41

        Well in 2002 the drivers’ championship was actually, rather than just speculatively, secured on 21st July.

        1. An answer from the good old days of F1 Fanatic, a researched an informative reply, Thanks..(I still think today beats that by 5 days though) :-)

      4. Jelle van der Meer (@)
        16th July 2021, 17:26

        2014-2020 the WCC was already know by July sometimes already earlier.

        1. 2014-2020 bar 2017 and 2018 the WCC was already known in Australia and Austria.

      5. Agree with the others, bottas was fighting with verstappen while having a dominant merc, so no, 2020 was more dominant than 2021.

    3. petebaldwin (@)
      16th July 2021, 17:18

      Mercedes have had 60 minutes to run their new parts and nail the setup. There is no chance they have got everything out of them in the time they’ve had. It’s very possible the updates will hurt them initially because they won’t know how to set the car up immediately. They’ll gather a lot of data this weekend and will be better next race.

      1. @petebaldwin – the way I see it, Mercedes are constantly playing catch-up, just like everyone else have been for seasons, I cannot expect Rbr to sit still either and Max has been working up to this point. He won’t be challenged by his team mate and to be fair all Perez has to do is get a podium which he is capable of doing due to experience and a better car.

        I don’t expect Perez to beat Hamilton but I expect Hamilton to make probably more uncharacteristic mistakes due to his desire to be competitive at the front whilst struggling to get the most out of a car that is not to his liking (all the time).

        All things come to an end and to be fair I hope I’m wrong and Max and Hamilton can be comfortable in their cars which are within 10ths of each other over short and long pace.

  5. Dave (@davewillisporter)
    16th July 2021, 15:49

    I was looking forward to some proper battles for the lead over the next few races. Oh well! Even if Merc pull back half a second in quali, Max will still be comfortably faster.

  6. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    16th July 2021, 15:49

    Seeing that Ferrari got close to Mercedes and Mclaren beating Mercedes on a compound softer, seems to indicate more that Mercedes upgrades are not working or even hurting them.

    So I think it is less about Red Bull getting faster and more about Mercedes getting slower.

  7. I think the first half of that session where they were all in a Noah’s arc 2-by-2 order proves how this sort of limited running will just make the simulation tools more important & benefit those with the best simulators.

    They were lined up in team order because they were all setup based on simulator data & with such limited running nobody wanted to take any risks & try anything different.

    And with no time to make any big changes now I think the order is going to be locked in for the rest of the weekend which can’t be good given how far ahead Verstappen seems to be. On a normal weekend we would know that Mercedes will improve in FP2/FP3 & we would expect a closer fight come qualifying but i doubt we get that now as there’s no time with the gimmick race format.

    Just one more negative consequence to the gimmick race format been done for no other reason than to make the Liberty overlords more money. #LibertyOut!

    1. They better be careful by not increasing the calls for dismissal to dark red.

  8. I see a lot of comments already sure of how the championship is going to end. They’re probably correct, but don’t count out Hamilton bouncing back in the second part of the season and putting up a fierce fight. He has done it multiple times in the past, so there’s good reasons to expect the fight to be closer than what might appear from FP1 of the British GP

    1. @alfa145 I think a difference this year is how development is a lot more restricted both in terms of what they can change & how much money they can spend. Not to mention how they are having to split everything betwene developing the 2021 car as well as developing the radically different 2022 car.

      In the cost cap era with more parts of the car frozen & with CFD/Wind Tunnel time also restricted I think starting out the season with an advantage & maximising it as well as Red Bull/Verstappen have is going to make a Mercedes/Hamilton fight back in the 2nd half of the season significantly harder than it would have been in past seasons.

    2. @alfa145 First, sorry I clicked “Report”. (@keithcollantine Maybe the buttons should be a bit far from each other?)
      Secondly, More than a fierce comeback by Lewis in both 2017 and 2018, it was more Ferrari dropping the ball horribly in 2017 (not helped by the Singapore crash obviously), and by a total meltdown by Seb / Ferrari in 2018 after Germany (and Spa, his last win that year actually). Of course Hamilton was there to take the gifted wins, but this year his “gifted” win at Baku ended, you know, at the escape road.

  9. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    16th July 2021, 16:09

    Bottas’ 2020 qualifying time 1:25:154, Verstappen best time today 1:27:035. Mercedes’ best time today .780 slower than Red Bull, 2.661 seconds slower than 2020 on the same track. Good job FIA.

    1. Quite consistent, the Merc was 2.121s in Bahrain.

    2. The modern F1 game is all about getting slower by year and see who is the biggest performance loser.

    3. I’m not disappointed!
      Times don’t matter and I’m very glad that Mercedes is no longer top dog.

    4. Jelle van der Meer (@)
      16th July 2021, 17:34

      Why do you blame the FIA? For the last 2-3 decades the FIA has taken measures to slow the F1 cars down to keep things relative safe. Active suspension, launch mode, engine size, driver aids etc with less or no rules you get F1 cars that become undriveable quick and unsafe, top speed above 400kph, corner speeds +20%-25%, acceleration to 200kph below 4 seconds.

      The measures taken are advised in advance and are the same for everyone – so it is still about which team does the best job and which driver gets the most out of its car.

      If you want to blame the FIA blame them for mid season changes to rear wing tests (yet not the front wing test), changing pit stop rules (with no good reason), allowing poor quality tires (tire blow ups in Baku), not consistently policing track limits.

  10. Most notably, recently mugged Lando brushing that off and coming in quicker than Lewis. Top job!

  11. Verstappen on softs, Norris on mediums. Faster than the two works Mercs who were on softs. This lad is defying logic. This is Schumacher c.1996 level performance.

    1. I remember watching Lando and Russell racing in Ginetta Juniors many years ago and thinking there good drivers, would love to see these two in the Mercs or the ways things can play out the Mclarens.

      1. Since McLaren are improving (which is great to see finally) think Norris will be giving lots of people problems

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