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Formula 1

McLaren sets misleading pace in first British GP practice

by Ben Anderson
5 min read

Lando Norris set the pace for McLaren in first practice for Formula 1’s 2024 British Grand Prix, while the pace of team-mate Oscar Piastri and Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin kept Max Verstappen out of the top three.

But this early competitive picture around Silverstone was skewed completely by a tyre offset.

It’s not unusual for McLaren to run out of sequence with the other top F1 teams, and that’s what happened here as Norris and Piastri were the only frontrunners to use the softest (C3) Pirelli tyre in FP1.

That ranking was as follows:


1 Norris 1m27.420s
2 Stroll 1m27.554s
3 Piastri 1m27.631s
4 Alonso 1m27.794s
5 Ocon 1m27.974s
6 Hulkenberg 1m28.082s
7 Bottas 1m28.254s
8 Ricciardo 1m28.477s
9 Bearman 1m28.536s
10 Zhou 1m28.590s
11 Albon 1m28.649s
12 Doohan 1m28.735s
13 Colapinto 1m29.078s

This tells us very little except that Aston Martin’s upgraded front wing seems to be working quite well straight out of the box, and that the Haas is straight into the thick of the upper-midfield fight with Alpine even before Nico Hulkenberg takes the benefit of the substantial upgrade the team has brought to this race.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the RB is again not working brilliantly on a high-speed track, nor is the Williams - which tends to still be quite wind-sensitive.

Mercedes looking strong?

The running on the hard and medium compounds perhaps gives us a slightly better read on things, as these compounds were used by Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari.

The hard tyre ranking is affected by the fact that tyre was generally used early on in the session when the track was improving at its fastest rate, but it was also the only tyre used by each of the top four teams.

The most notable thing in this phase was how quickly and consistently the two Mercedes were up to speed, underlining the team’s feeling it is relatively more competitive early in a weekend when the track is lacking grip and conditions are cooler (only 22C track temperature here).

Both were lapping faster than Verstappen’s Red Bull and only eclipsed by a later (though impressive) lap (on a slightly faster track) by Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari.

The McLarens were both a little off the pace in this phase too, although the caveat here is that Lando Norris was a bit late out and didn’t do many laps on the hard.


1 Sainz 1m27.925s
2 Hamilton 1m28.043s
3 Russell 1m28.046s
4 Verstappen 1m28.370s
5 Piastri 1m28.469s
6 Alonso 1m28.558s
7 Leclerc 1m28.616s
8 Norris 1m28.770s
9 Ocon 1m28.982s
10 Ricciardo 1m29.160s
11 Albon 1m29.245s

Hitting a limit on the medium

When Verstappen, the Mercedes drivers and the Ferrari drivers all fitted the medium compound, it was noticeable they all struggled to find much of a gain, even compared to their own baseline runs on that tyre.


1 Verstappen 1m27.729s
2 Russell 1m27.738s
3 Hamilton 1m27.858s
4 Leclerc 1m27.903s
5 Sainz 1m28.067s
6 Stroll 1m28.426s

Verstappen did two laps within 0.05s of each other, while George Russell shaved off less than 0.04s between his first and second fliers on that tyre. Lewis Hamilton went slower on his second effort, as did Charles Leclerc, while Sainz actually failed to improve on the earlier lap he set on the hard tyre.

The gap between Stroll’s Aston and the others on this tyre is perhaps more representative of the car’s true pace than his headline time on the soft.

How the four rookies got on

Four rookies ran in this session: 2025 Haas signing Ollie Bearman replaced Kevin Magussen at Haas, Jack Doohan took over Pierre Gasly’s Alpine, Isack Hadjar drove Sergio Perez’s Red Bull and Franco Colapinto took over Logan Sargeant’s Williams.

Bearman started with consecutive laps on the hard tyre in the upgraded Haas and his pace compared decently to Nico Hulkenberg, who was on mediums.

The first representative push lap was 0.6s off Hulkenberg, before Bearman went 0.4s faster - although Hulkenberg looked like he was about to go 0.2s or 0.3s quicker before a red flag caused by Yuki Tsunoda’s spin into the Luffield gravel.

On the soft tyre Bearman was almost half a second off, but correcting for tyre life it’s conceivable that gap is closer to 0.25s-0.3s.

Colapinto was the one who actually lapped closest to his team-mate, 0.429s off Alex Albon’s Williams. He looked aggressive and confident behind the wheel and was rewarded quite well for that approach on the soft tyre.

Doohan did a solid but unspectacular job in the Alpine, chipping away on the soft tyre but ending up quite a way away from regular driver Esteban Ocon.

Hadjar’s running was compromised by having to do a huge amount of experimental running and testing for Red Bull, so his laptimes are not really representative.

The most notable thing he did was almost cause a massive accident with Norris by failing to see the McLaren coming on a faster lap through one of the fastest parts of the circuit, just moments after the other McLaren of Piastri broke down on track with a suspected hydraulics problem.

FP1 times

PosNameCarBest TimeGap Leader
1Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1m27.420s
2Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1m27.554s+0.134s
3Oscar PiastriMcLaren-Mercedes1m27.631s+0.211s
4Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPT1m27.729s+0.309s
5George RussellMercedes1m27.738s+0.318s
6Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-Mercedes1m27.794s+0.374s
7Lewis HamiltonMercedes1m27.858s+0.438s
8Charles LeclercFerrari1m27.903s+0.483s
9Carlos SainzFerrari1m27.925s+0.505s
10Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1m27.974s+0.554s
11Nico HülkenbergHaas-Ferrari1m28.082s+0.662s
12Valtteri BottasSauber-Ferrari1m28.254s+0.834s
13Daniel RicciardoRB-Honda RBPT1m28.477s+1.057s
14Oliver BearmanHaas-Ferrari1m28.536s+1.116s
15Guanyu ZhouSauber-Ferrari1m28.590s+1.170s
16Alex AlbonWilliams-Mercedes1m28.649s+1.229s
17Jack DoohanAlpine-Renault1m28.735s+1.315s
18Franco ColapintoWilliams-Mercedes1m29.078s+1.658s
19Isack HadjarRed Bull-Honda RBPT1m29.270s+1.850s
20Yuki TsunodaRed Bull-Honda RBPT1m29.864s+2.444s
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