With only a few races left before F1 takes a break across the summer, Silverstone was the next stop on the 22-race long calendar and it threw up a bizarre but brilliant qualifying result that left everyone scratching their heads.
Redbull bow out early
We first have to address the elephant in the room and talk about Perez missing out on Q3 for the fifth time in a row. Despite Perez’s poor performances, Horner has offered numerous reassurances that Checo’s seat is safe for next year but surely you have to start calling into question his validity to remain in the second seat of the top team in F1. The remainder of the season is guaranteed to be dominated by Verstappen and so in that respect it renders Checo’s performances obsolete, even the Constructor’s Standings could now be won by Verstappen on his own, but the bigger question is what course of action do Redbull take once the other teams start to close the gap and they need to utilise their second driver. Rumours have been swirling continuously about possible replacements for Checo’s seat and whilst nothing has really stuck, you do have to wonder if Redbull are gearing up for a seat change to solidify their success over the coming years.
Williams have left the backmarkers behind
When talking about Williams in this day and age it usually involves mentions of them being a back marker team, there are constant questions surrounding their ability to escape that lingering P10 finish in the Constructor Standings as it has been long established that their glory days in F1 have now become a relic of the past. However, this year there’s been a notable shift. Over the past few years Williams have had their day on occasion but it’s never really been anything consistent enough to cement their status as something more than a backmarker, but this year with a new haul of personnel, from drivers to the team principal, it looks as though the team are on an upward trajectory and are not showing any signs of slowing down. The characteristics of the car have been known to excel on long straights and this has been incredibly effective in maintaining track position during races, but with such a varied calendar of tracks this would only allow Williams to display their potential at a select amount of races over the course of an ever increasing season. Looking at 2023 I think it’s fair to say that Williams can no longer be considered the slowest team on the grid, Albon has shown that the car is now able to deliver on a regular basis whether that be on the cusp of points or making it into the top 10 at times. This all culminated in a stellar performance in Canada when Albon managed to bag the team their highest finish of the season in P7, slotting the car in amongst the top 4 teams on the grid.
To say that Williams took a step up in 2023 would be an understatement, the progress that’s been made this year was perfectly displayed by Albon following his qualifying session at the British GP where he managed to secure P8 but still noted that he was initially disappointed with this as he believed that the car had more to give following his P2 finish in the first two practice sessions of the weekend. With ‘backmarker’ teams seemingly making significant strides forward, it will be interesting to see how this plays out towards the end of the season and in the following years as everyone starts to close in on Redbull.
McLaren out of nowhere
Last but certainly not least, we have to talk about McLaren. This was undoubtedly the biggest story of qualifying as Norris and Piastri took P2 and P3 right behind the Redbull to everyone’s surprise. With a new chrome livery and the first major updates now being implemented on both cars, it’s clear to see that whatever woes McLaren had at the beginning of the year have now been left behind. Following a run of rocky races, the team looked to have struck gold in Austria as they brought the first batch of updates to Norris’ car which allowed him to secure P4 after just narrowly missing out on his first podium of the season. Now that we’ve reached Silverstone, McLaren have managed to leapfrog their competition and put both of their cars in the perfect position for a possible podium and points at the least. This is perhaps one of the biggest turn arounds that we’ve seen this year, alongside Williams, as McLaren have previously remarked that this upgrade will mark the ‘real’ start of their season and it looks as though that thought has materialised on track. I’m certain that everyone will be eagerly watching the remainder of McLaren’s season as this could be their opportunity to claw back all of the points that they missed out on at the beginning of the year. The team have already made a statement of intent early in the year with their reshuffling of key personnel and now it finally looks as though we are starting to see their hard work come to fruition, their car is going from strength the strength and they have one of the best drivers on the grid leading the team alongside the best rookie of the year in Piastri, who has managed to keep up with his teammate in P3 despite not having the full extent of upgrades that Norris has on his car.
Given that the Redbull Ring and Silverstone are quiet different tracks, this only works to McLaren’s favour as their ability to outperform the rest of the grid on both tracks confirms that the triumph of their upgrades look to be universal and will not be hold them back on specific tracks.
As many drivers have noted, Silverstone has always been a long standing favourite in F1 as it somehow manages to always throw up an enthralling race and from what we have seen in qualifying so far, it definitely did not disappoint in 2023.