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Cool Verstappen stays calm and modest as Hollywood cameras roll

A cool Max Verstappen completed a ‘double top’ for Red Bull in Friday practice for the British Grand Prix with his now-customary calm efficiency before admitting it was “quite a good day for us.”

The defending double world champion and runaway series leader performed with all the authority of any matinee idol on a day when Hollywood came to town with Brad Pitt and Applie Studios beginning filming of their as yet untitled Formula One film.

The 25-year-old Dutchman finished up 0.022 seconds faster than Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in second practice, having topped the first session ahead of his Red Bull team-mate and nearest championship rival Sergio Perez.

As Mercedes’ seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton, an executive producer for the movie, slithered and bounced around the former wartime airfield and Charles Leclerc, in the second Ferrari, was halted by electrical problems, it was left to a revived Williams to take advantage.

London-born Thai driver Alex Albon responded by claiming third spot ahead of Perez with his rookie American team-mate Logan Sargeant an excellent fifth, a result that confirmed the team’s improvement since former Mercedes strategist James Vowles took over as boss.

If Pitt was looking for storylines, this was a good day.

“It was quite slippery in the beginning, but I think that is due to the high pressures we are running on the tyres,” said Verstappen. “Of course, it is the same for everyone, but it makes it more difficult at slow speeds.

“Overall, the car has performed really well so we are happy with that. And we have to be careful with the weather too… but overall, it’s been a strong day.”

With thunderstorms forecast, Verstappen knows his ambition of scoring a first victory at the eighth attempt in the British Grand Prix, to draw Red Bull alongside McLaren on a record-sharing 11 straight wins, is not likely to be a foregone conclusion.

As he seeks his sixth consecutive win to boost his 81-point lead in the title race, he may reflect that his only victory at Silverstone, in 2020’s ‘Anniversary Grand Prix during the Covid-19 lockdown’ has been accompanied by several disappointments.

By contrast, home hero Hamilton has won a record eight British Grands Prix, but is without a win since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and was down in 15th three places behind compatriot and team-mate George Russell.

“It’s a tough car to drive and something is wrong,” said Hamilton, who remained upbeat. “We’re missing something. On the long run, it didn’t seem too bad so that’s a positive at least.”

Sainz, who won last year’s British race, remained cautious afterwards, but team-mate Leclerc was bullish that his Ferrari would be fine and said he relished the prospect of a wet day at one of his favourite circuits.

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