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Formula 1 British Grand Prix 2024

Data analysis: Who has the upper hand at the British GP?

Max Verstappen and Red Bull were pretty pessimistic after the F1 free practice sessions in Britain, with Lando Norris setting the fastest lap time during FP2.

Verstappen FP1 Silverstone
To news overview © XPBimages

Red Bull was quick to point out its limitations after Friday practice from Silverstone - at the end of FP2, Max Verstappen found himself in seventh place, some seven-tenths down on session-leader Lando Norris.

However, Red Bull need not be extremely worried. While the difference was big, at the same time, it was also distorted. Verstappen drove his fastest time fairly early in the session and undoubtedly had less grip at that point. 

A mistake in the second attempt ultimately ensured he would not get close to Norris, as Verstappen then focused exclusively on long runs and left the C3 Soft tyres behind. 

That, of course, does not alter the fact that Norris left a great impression at the Silverstone Circuit. The home favourite bested the entire field by three-tenths and was a lot faster than Verstappen through the slow corners. 

It's through those slow corners where Red Bull must focus on improvement, because in terms of top speed, Verstappen and Norris were virtually no different. Norris recorded 323 kilometres per hour at the speed trap in his fast run, while Verstappen was just one km/h down. 

By comparison, Valtteri Bottas was the fastest at 330 km/h.

The text continues below the image.

			© Red Bull Content Pool
	© Red Bull Content Pool

Long runs

Where can Verstappen and Red Bull draw hope as they look to repel the increasing threat from McLaren? The long runs. Team advisor Helmut Marko may have claimed that Norris was faster than Verstappen in that area too, but that may not be the case. 

In the first representative laps on Mediums, Norris was indeed two to three-tenths faster, but that lead later disappeared like snow in the sun as Verstappen was able to keep his tyres alive longer into the stint.

Another important factor is the engine setting that Red Bull usually runs on Friday. The Milton Keynes-based team is known to drive with less power in free practice, which automatically distorts the times. 

Of course, there's some potential left in the tank at McLaren as well, but Red Bull normally turns its power down more. 

There is no need for Verstappen and Red Bull to panic yet. In recent times, the team has needed all the free practice sessions to find the optimal balance, and a lot of progress is being made overnight from Friday to Saturday.

Finally, the possible rainfall is going to play another leading role. Mechanical grip then becomes even more important and poses a challenge for Red Bull, as McLaren has been better in that respect so far. 

After Friday, is Norris the favourite? Yes. Can you discount Verstappen? Never. The lap times in the long runs speak for themselves.

View the long runs of Verstappen and Norris below. Both drivers drove on mediums.

Long runs of Verstappen and Norris (Medium tyres)

1. 1:32.009 1:31.656
2. 1:31.972 1:31.665
3. 1:32.059 1:31.753
4. 1:31.972 1:32.520
5. 1:32.171 1:32.144
6. 1:33.415 1:31.828
7. 1:31.673 1:31.877
8. 1:32.035 1:31.996
9. 1:32.411 1:34.804

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