Verstappen “definitely positively surprised” by McLaren’s strong pace in race

2023 British Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen admitted he was surprised how quick McLaren were in the British Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver lost the lead to Lando Norris at the start of the race. Although he was able to repass the McLaren, he didn’t pull away from his pursuers as quickly as he did at the Red Bull Ring a week ago.

It didn’t stop Verstappen from scoring his sixth consecutive win, though he said it “wasn’t particularly straightforward.”

“I had a bad start, a lot of wheel spin,” he explained. “So I had to work my way up again to Lando, that took a few laps, then it also took a few laps to cool down the tyres again in the lead, because Lando came back at me again in the DRS.”

Although he was able to build up a cushion over Norris, that was eradicated when the Safety Car came out.

“Once everything settled in we, lap-after-lap, could open up the gap to, at one point, it was nine seconds before the Safety Car came out. So I guess that was very positive.”

Nonetheless Verstappen admitted he was impressed by the McLaren’s performance. The car tended to perform well in qualifying earlier in the season, but at Silverstone its race pace seemed to be a match as well.

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“Everything was working quite well but it was still quite surprising to see that the McLaren was actually that quick, or Lando was that quick, over the whole stint,” said Verstappen.

Lando Norris, McLaren, Silverstone, 2023
Gallery: 2023 British Grand Prix in pictures

Verstappen switched to soft tyres during the Safety Car period. Afterwards he suggested that hadn’t been the right choice.

“Because of the Safety Car, we had to make the decision what tyre to put on: the soft or the hard, so we opted to go for the soft, which at the time I thought was right. But when I restarted, it took only two, three laps and then I realised that it was quite tricky to keep them under control with the temperatures.

“The gap, of course, stayed quite similar, but it wasn’t particularly nice to drive. So, we’ll look into that, maybe we should have gone on the hard tyre, at least we could have pushed a little bit harder over the whole stint, maybe. Of course the first two, three laps are a bit more difficult, but at least towards the end, probably it was a bit faster.”

McLaren’s performance in the race was even stronger than Red Bull admitted after practice, said Verstappen.

“I was definitely positively surprised with the pace of the McLaren in the race that they were actually very quick compared to even the cars behind,” he said. “But at the end of the day you just have to focus on yourself throughout the whole weekend and then you just find out anyway what happens behind you.

“But yeah, positively surprised. Let’s see what the next race will bring again.”

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2023 British Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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6 comments on “Verstappen “definitely positively surprised” by McLaren’s strong pace in race”

  1. Why does Tsunoda get a free pass when he’s not massively better than De Vries?

    It’s clear as day Red Bull are only keeping him because of a previous agreement with Red Bull.

    1. with Honda*

      1. Jim – Wrong & people should’ve accepted this fact long ago that he got a chance in F1 because of being in the RB program rather than for Honda.
        Furthermore, he got more slack in his rookie season because of having considerably less single-seater & zero previous professional racing experience by that point.

    2. Pretty sure they’re also keeping Yuki for lack of better options; the Red Bull Academy has struggled to produce good candidates recently and it’s not clear that any of the current ones are ready to be an advance on de Vries, let alone Tsunoda. (Yes, Ricciardo’s around, but he can only replace one of them, and de Vries is the weaker of the two current pilots).

      1. @alianora-la-canta
        Lawson is definitely ready, given his strong form in Super Formula & possibly even Iwasa, but certainly the former.

  2. Am I the only one who wasn’t surprised by McLaren’s pace last weekend? They were fast with a completely new car in Austria on a track that highlights some of their weaknesses (top speed and medium-slow corners). If they had pace there, they were going to have hell a lot of pace here, taking into account that they’d learned from their new car and had even more upgrades in Silverstone.

    I had high expectations before the weekend and they delivered.

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