With a classic showing of wind, grey skies, and a bunch of celebrities no one really knows, the British Grand Prix roared into England on Sunday. Much to the glee of Silverstone’s 160,000 attendees, the race had as many twists and turns as its track; leaving many hoping that the monopoly Red Bull has held over the podium this season may be finally over.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, held first place on Sunday, with Lando Norris, McLaren, and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, taking second and third respectively. Norris took home Driver of The Day for the second week in a row with the highest number of votes (45%) since Fernando Alonso’s 53% in Bahrain. The race also marks McLaren’s first podium since 2010 (which was thanks to Hamilton) and Norris’s first of the 2023 season.
The race was Verstappen’s eight win this season, with the only two races he has lost going to his teammate Sergio Perez. Verstappen’s current standing of 255 points places him 99 points in front of Perez. His Silverstone win also notably makes him the fifth driver in history to win six races consecutively.
Yet, whilst Verstappen’s accolades are a sight to behold, the cheers at the sports bar where I watched the race were not for him.
Lando Norris kept us on the edge of our seats all Sunday afternoon. Each time he appeared on screen, the crowd roared. The explosion of glee as he shot off the starting line taking first place for those few, beautiful laps, was incredible. The collective moan as Verstappen finally overtook him shook the bar. As the race continued, no one gave up on their hopes for Norris. When the safety car was brought out (in classic Alpine fashion), we all held our breaths, praying for a British miracle. One didn’t arrive, and yet, we still left chanting Lando.
How has this sudden devotion to McLaren occurred? One could cite the fact that Norris hails from Britain and a British win at Silverstone is forever the dream, but the energy at the bar felt bigger than this.
The truth became clear as Hamilton showered Norris in champagne. It seems there are hopes that Norris may be almost ready to take Hamilton’s place. Hamilton is now 38 and has had a long and fantastic career of making Britain proud. Yet there is a note in the air that he may be reaching his final seasons.
Norris showed he could be the next British icon as he managed to hold off Hamilton in the final laps of the race. Hamilton himself was impressed, exclaiming at how wonderful the new McLaren is. In post-race interviews, the two joked about their age difference and whilst there were smiles all around, it felt distinctly melancholy.
Whilst no long-time British fan, or just plain F1 fan for that matter, wants to see Hamilton go, there is hope in Norris. Silverstone showed the young driver is well worth his chops and that the British baton will be in good hands when Hamilton chooses to pass it.
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