Has Lando Norris overtaken Lewis Hamilton as Britain’s number one F1 driver?

Lando Norris

The British Grand Prix is magic and has always been since I was a tiny tot crouched against the wall of the BRDC (British Racing Drivers’ Club) clubhouse. 

I always dreamed of driving this race, so walking through Silverstone’s gates as a commentator and presenter feels bitter but also sweet. It turns out that even spending half of your life with a steering wheel in your hand, only sometimes lends itself to complete control of your direction! 

That doesn’t dampen my joy at being part of one the most excellent shows on earth and calling it a job, though. We all occasionally need ushering back into reality with a reminder that the queue to live these incredible experiences is long; we are privileged to be there, and many would give up much for that chance—an important thing to remember.

Two Brits finishing on the podium for the first time since 1999 is a remarkable statistic. And I watched trackside that weekend as Michael Schumacher skimmed through the gravel at Stowe breaking his leg and losing his championship hopes. David Coulthard broke something also: a ten-year hiatus of victories at home for McLaren since 1989.

Max Verstappen Bahrain

It’s apt then that McLaren should feature heavily in the sequel with an outstanding performance for Lando Norris for P2. His battle with Lewis Hamilton may prove an iconic baton pass in the chronicles of British motorsport, perhaps. We’ll have to see.

One thing for sure, is between my early days of attending Silverstone and charging the length of the paddock microphone in hand, the crowd is always ever-present. The engagement with the action by the grandstand audience significantly outpaces the commentary due to technological lag. An excellent commentary trick is to spot the activity and unequivocal proof the audience is living the race trackside makes the atmosphere electric.

There is no reason the hometown heroes can’t take their performance overseas. Data shows that McLaren has the downforce to do the business, particularly in the highest-speed corners. 

Alex Brundle on Red Bull’s continued dominance of Formula 1

The primary leap towards Red Bull needs to be in energy management and PU (power unit) efficiency rather than further supergluing the papaya machines to the road. In Hungary, however, a circuit with lower energy demand, the need for downforce and a bias towards braking efficiency, Norris and Oscar Piastri, could be an ever greater force. 

Perhaps we are dreaming when Red Bull has been so dominant this season, but as a neutral fan, it would be great to see. 

The ‘Taurine Titans’ will be looking to steady the ship this week before re-establishing their dominance in Hungary, not least in their driver roster.

Five consecutive Q1 exits for Sergio Perez is a small deal for everyone but the Mexican driver, while a dominant Max Verstappen remains out in front and unchallenged. But it would only take one further step from a midfield contender to put the necessity for two-car strategic options to the front of mind. Then they’ll need him to nail the laps if they want to continue winning on Sunday. 

Formula 1

Outside of the harshness that we have come to expect from Red Bull’s driver selection roster on Nyck de Vries, it’s a secondary reason why putting Daniel Ricciardo back into that second Alpha Tauri may not be an intelligent move. 

Red Bull clarified upon signature that they are not expecting to see Ricciardo in a race seat in 2024, but those declarations can be incredibly fluid. 

Having raced in multiple scenarios over many years, entering a ‘potential replacement’ in Ricciardo will not help Perez perform as they need him through the remainder of the 2023 season. 

Racer and commentator Alex Brundle gives his thoughts on Liam Lawson

F1 is a refined and technological sport requiring calmness of mind under pressure and confidence, particularly in qualifying. It’s more complex than presenting an alternative/replacement, so your incumbent might ‘look sideways and pedal harder.’ 

This move has all the hallmarks of something that might worsen the pressure on Perez and, thus, his ability to deliver the Saturday lap.

Many believe that Liam Lawson, who has performed well in testing, is being left to attempt victory in ‘Superformula’ and is likely to surface for 2024 in F1. It’s hard to believe they will then reverse Ricciardo back into the wings, though and however strategic, it must feel slightly strange as arguably their most performant young driver to be overlooked alongside the further six Red Bull connected drivers in Formula 2.

One thing is for sure, though. It will be interesting to see what Ricciardo brings to the line-up at Alpha Tauri and how far he can move the car forward before the season’s end. They certainly need it!

A wound-licking session was in full flow after Silverstone from Mercedes and Ferrari. The Merc still suffers from aerodynamic disturbances (bouncing) early in the weekend and is forced to run too high on ride height in a window that causes total efficiency loss. The ‘tail off’ in performance in higher-speed sections is evident on the timing heat maps. 

Their solid strategic department and further excellent race management from Hamilton mean the podium heist continues, but they continue to steal results, despite pace, rather than blast to them.

It wasn’t the venue for the Ferrari, which excels mechanically and in terms of power unit punch, provided the energy is there. But the same old issues reared their head. Degradation of the tyres, outside the other teams’ window, paints their strained strategy department into the corner. 

Charles Leclerc missed ‘magical safety car tyre change’ one-stopper at Silverstone 

A focus on a moot undercut on George Russell drove Charles Leclerc into an early stop, missing the ‘magical safety car tyre change’ one-stopper. Taking the ‘free stop’ in any case with Leclerc, they faced degradation too bad to take the soft on lap 32. 

With the more resilient but slower compound, there was no chance to challenge. It was the same basic issue for Carlos Sainz, who couldn’t extend the medium far enough to get to the safety car and had to fit the hard to the end.

Alongside Aston Martin, who had a quiet weekend with the demands of Silverstone falling into a nasty zone of their aerodynamic package, it will be interesting to see which of the upper mid-field can rise to challenge the Bulls in Hungary.

I’ll be there for F1TV, alongside feeder series comms duties, looking out for exactly that.

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