Max Verstappen surprisingly finished the British GP in second place – a totally unexpected result at the start of the race with a Red Bull that lacked pace.

However, a great race interpretation from the Dutchman and the Red Bull pitwall along with an incredible final stint on the hard tyre secured him another podium finish this season.

Max Verstappen’s road to recovery

Verstappen’s race was off to the best possible start when he overtook Lando Norris on the outside of Turn 3 in the starting lap. The Red Bull driver looked set to hunt down the Mercedes’ of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell early on, but nothing could have been further from the truth.

Russell and Hamilton showed incredible pace in the first stint, and Verstappen’s medium tyres started to fade progressively. Norris couldn’t match the Red Bull driver’s lap times either despite this, but Max’s medium tyre came to a cliff around lap 12 and Norris entered the DRS zone.

On lap 14, Lando overtook Max easily in Hangar Straight before Stowe. Three laps later Piastri also passed the Red Bull driver. Even when the first drops of rain started to fall in mixed conditions where Verstappen looked like he could stand out from the others, on the contrary, his lap times were not lighting up the time sheets.

Before making the crossover to the intermediates for more rain on track, his gap to Norris at the front of the race was 14 seconds. And his gap to Russell’s Mercedes in fourth was +9.7s. Even Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari was in a position to pass him to relegate him to P6, just ahead of Nico Hülkenberg.

It looked like Max had a problem with his car, but he didn’t report any. The floor damaged in qualifying after his gravel pass at Copse had been changed for the race so this was not the reason.

On lap 26, just as more rain started to fall, Verstappen was first in after an early failed attempt by Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon on lap 20. Unlike them, the move worked out perfectly for Max. Just as he came in it started to rain heavily on the Silverstone circuit.

Verstappen’s gap just before he stopped for the intermediate tyre was over +13s to leader Norris and +10.256s to Russell in P4. A lap later, he regained P4 due to Russell losing time in the pits waiting for Hamilton to stop at a Mercedes double stack. And the gap to Norris was down to +6.6s.

In just one lap Max had managed to cut almost seven seconds thanks to a great call from both the Red Bull pitwall and himself.

Despite this, Verstappen’s pace was no better than his rivals even in wet conditions. Eight laps after the pit stops, his gap to Hamilton rose again to +7.6s and to Norris, still leading, +9.8s. However, he had a comfortable +10s advantage over Sainz after Russell’s retirement and P3 seemed virtually assured.

The RB20 seemed to come back to life just in time as the track started to dry out again. The Red Bull driver closed the gap to Norris to +7.5s and to Hamilton to +5.6s. Perhaps Max was just managing his tyres so that he could push again in the final moments before the crossover to slicks.

“Still happy staying out for the moment? You’re faster than the cars ahead, keep it going”, said Gianpiero Lambiase over the radio to Max. “Yeah, for the moment yeah”, replied Max just a lap before deciding on pitting for slick tyres, again anticipating the track conditions before anybody else.

Hamilton ahead of Max also saw the same opportunity and pitted for the used soft tyre, a wise move that allowed him to undercut Norris for the win. Verstappen’s undercut on the hard tyre on lap 38 put him just +3.3s behind Norris and with a big chance to fight for P2.

More reaction after a thrilling 2024 British Grand Prix

???? Untelevised British GP footage shows Max Verstappen moment with Lewis Hamilton

???? Helmut Marko explains why Red Bull lost the British GP to ‘masterful’ Lewis Hamilton

The McLaren driver couldn’t find the pace on the used soft compound. On the other hand, Max was flying on the hard tyre and had the best stint of the entire top four. His impressive pace allowed him to overtake Norris on lap 48 for P2 and make a final attempt to catch Hamilton for the lead.

Despite cutting nearly a second and a half off Lewis, it wasn’t enough to fight for the win. But Verstappen’s P2 when it looked like he wouldn’t even be able to fight for the podium at Silverstone must taste almost as good as a race win.

From zero to hero thanks to his great reading of the track conditions with two powerful undercuts. Once again the Max Verstappen effect was felt even with pace problems for most part of the race.

Yet another lesson from the crazy race at Silverstone: never underestimate Max Verstappen even on a bad day.

Read next – British GP conclusions: Lewis Hamilton’s refusal, Perez v Ricciardo answer, McLaren bruised