The Dutchman, who leads the provisional world championship standings, will start in the lead on Sunday for the eighth time in ten races this season, the fifth in a row.

The two-time reigning world champion, who had a scare before the start of Q3 by breaking his front wing when he came out of his garage, once again assumed his status as favourite to finish at the top of the timesheet.

However, against all odds, it was the McLarens of Britain's Lando Norris and Australian rookie Oscar Piastri who gave him a hard time at the end of the qualifying hour during which the track gradually dried up after being soggy in the early afternoon.

"Qualifying was pretty crazy with the changing conditions. It was very tight today. I was very surprised to see the McLarens so fast but it's good for them. From my side, obviously, I'm delighted to be on pole position," Verstappen said.

Dutch Red Bull driver Max Verstappen during qualifying for the British F1 Grand Prix at Silverstone on July 8, 2023 © ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP

Indeed, while we were waiting for the Ferraris or Mercedes, it was the orange and black single-seaters that surprised and ignited the public who had filled the stands of the mythical Silverstone circuit.

"It's a fantastic result for the team, we will try to keep these places tomorrow (Sunday) in the race. We have taken a big step forward with the car since Barcelona, although there is still a lot of work to be done because we still have weak points," Piastri explained.

"It's great to finish second and third in qualifying. We worked hard and we couldn't have hoped for better today because of Max! It's obvious that we have made progress after a complicated start to the season," added Norris.

Pérez still misses himself

In the final minute of qualifying, Piastri set the fastest time, before his teammate got thousands of British fans to their feet by grabbing the first. Even though Verstappen eventually edged Norris by 241 thousandths, he failed to spoil the British driver's party, who stole the show from local idol Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes).

Dutch Red Bull driver Max Verstappen (centre), Mercedes driver Lando Norris (left) and teammate Australian Oscar Piastri (right) during qualifying for the British F1 Grand Prix at Silverstone, July 8, 2023 © Ben Stansall / AFP

The seven-time world champion has only finished seventh on a track where he holds the record for victories in F1 with eight wins. He finished just behind teammate George Russell and the two Ferraris of Monegasque Charles Leclerc and Spaniard Carlos Sainz.

A few hundred meters from their factory, the Aston Martins also disappointed as the Spaniard Fernando Alonso and the Canadian Lance Stroll finished respectively ninth and twelfth.

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton during qualifying for the British F1 Grand Prix at Silverstone, July 8, 2023 © ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP

Sergio Pérez completely missed qualifying at the wheel of the second Red Bull as he was eliminated in Q1 and will only start in 15th position, confirming his difficulties on Saturday from his pole position in Miami at the beginning of May.

The Mexican failed to reach Q3 for the fifth time in a row and could see his future in the Austrian team clouded if he multiplies the under-performances.

On the French side, the day was frustrating for the two Alpines as the French drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon only achieved the 10th and 13th times, far from the McLarens, with whom they are fighting for fifth place in the constructors' standings.

© 2023 AFP