Verstappen Relegated to Supporting Role in Victory

Actors Brad Pitt, center, and Damson Idris talk on the grid Sunday before the British F1 Grand Prix in Silverstone, England, where they filmed scenes for a movie.

SILVERSTONE, England (AP) — On a day when Brad Pitt joined the Formula One grid to shoot his new movie, defending champion Max Verstappen was reduced to a cameo role in his own win with F1 fans gripped by the fight for second place.

Apart from losing the lead to Lando Norris at the start — and then taking it back — Verstappen’s cruise on Sunday to yet another win — his sixth in a row — lacked the Hollywood-style drama of Norris’ battle with seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton for second.

That fits a pattern this season of dominant wins for the Red Bull driver and increasingly hard-fought battles behind him as Mercedes, Ferrari, Aston Martin and now McLaren jostle to be the second-fastest team.

“It’s very confusing, to be honest, because every single race it’s someone else,” Verstappen said.

Filming for Pitt’s upcoming F1-themed movie had been taking place all weekend around the F1 sessions, using black-and-gold cars from the fictional APX team. Pitt himself and co-star Damson Idris joined the grid in racing suits before the start.

Verstappen extended his overall lead to 99 points over teammate Sergio Perez. First place in a race earns 25 points.

Starting on pole position, Verstappen was overtaken off the line by McLaren’s Norris in what he later admitted was a “terrible” start but swept back into the lead on lap five and held on until the end. Red Bull has won all 10 races this year, 11 in a row including the final race of 2022, matching the record of McLaren with 11 consecutive wins in 1988.

Norris had been expected to drop back after qualifying a surprise second on the grid, but instead remained Verstappen’s closest challenger throughout the race. After a safety-car restart, he fought wheel-to-wheel with Hamilton, who had what were in theory faster tires, but held on to second for his and McLaren’s best result since 2021. “It was an amazing fight,” Norris said.

Hamilton had started seventh and credited the crowd for powering him to a 14th career podium finish at Silverstone. “I didn’t do it, the crowd did,” he said. “I felt the energy, I felt the support. This is the reason we got back up there.”

McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri was a career-best fourth ahead of Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate George Russell as McLaren’s upgraded car proved far more competitive than even the team had predicted.

Perez was off the podium for the fourth time in five races, finishing sixth after starting 15th, with seventh for Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and an impressive eighth for Alexander Albon of Williams.

When Kevin Magnussen broke down with flames coming from the back of his Haas on lap 33 of 52, it gave drivers including Verstappen, Norris and Hamilton the chance to pit under the safety car without losing time. Ferrari was among the losers because Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz had just pitted. They finished ninth and 10th, respectively.