A true classic
The middle part of the Formula One season is often the most popular with many drivers, teams and fans. That is because we get the chance to sample the legendary historic circuits that shaped this great sport. Monaco has been. Austria has returned. Germany, Belgium and Italy are to come. This week, it’s the turn of Silverstone.
And unlike most years, this race is extra special. Silverstone will be hosting its 50th British Grand Prix. This year, more than ever, the home crowd will be craving a British winner. The most likely candidate will be craving that too. Lewis Hamilton knows that he must finish ahead of Nico Rosberg on Sunday. Failure to do so would see the championship leader extend his advantage over Hamilton beyond the current 29 points. As the races tick by and the gap becomes wider, Hamilton’s title prospects become harder.
The 29-year-old will seek inspiration from his legendary drive in 2008. In the horrendous wet conditions, he won by more than a minute on his way to his only world championship. It was a truly great drive, one of many at this circuit. Jim Clark, Sir Jackie Stewart, Nigel Mansell, Johnny Herbert and David Coulthard have provided some memorable afternoons around Silverstone. Some of the great cars and drivers will be remembered and celebrated in a legends parade.
It is pivotal that Hamilton can put on another awesome show. A nation expects.
Since the major upgrades in 2011, the circuit has changed very little. Although visitors may find it a little confusing, giving that the new pit straight and start line are the other side of the circuit. However, after 52 laps of the 5.891 KM circuit, all will be forgotten. After all, the awesome corners of Copse, Maggotts and Becketts still remain. As does Hanger Straight which, along with Wellington Straight, forms the two DRS zones this weekend. Silverstone always provides wheel-to-wheel action and you can expect many overtaking manoeuvres on Sunday.
Red Bull should find the track more is suited to their car than Austria. The long sweeping corners will see their aerodynamic package come to the fore, while the shorter straights means engine power is less important. They, along with Williams and Force India will be fighting for third. Likewise, Mercedes should discover that Silverstone is easier on their fragile braking system than either Austria or Canada. Pirelli have supplied the hard and medium tyres this weekend.
Who’s going to win?
Mercedes will, once again, be the class of the field. Only in the event of reliability issues or rain could they perhaps fail to secure another 1-2 finish. Hamilton and Rosberg both have a win apiece here, with the German benefiting from his team-mate’s puncture last year to snatch the win. However, Hamilton has looked imperious on this track in the past and has often spoken of his delight at driving in front of his fans.
This weekend, and the following German Grand Prix, could prove crucial in the fight for the championship. Both drivers will be keen to win their home races and failure to do so could prove to be a big momentum swing.
Fernando Alonso is another driver who has always gone well here and he will be hoping for the rain clouds to arrive, as that would be the only way he could win the race. Rain is expected for qualifying, which could throw up an interesting grid, while there is a 30% chance of heavy showers forecast for the race.
Only Esteban Gutierrez has a grid penalty this weekend. The Mexican was handed a 10 grid-place penalty for an unsafe release from the pits in Austria. A little unfair perhaps, as it was the teams fault. Sebastian Vettel escaped a penalty for a racing incident.
With the home crowd behind him, a bee in his bonnet and a point to prove; Lewis Hamilton should be feeling unbeatable this weekend. He needs to win. And in front of his home crowd, he should have too much for Rosberg. The German won’t mind coming second though. Consistent points scoring has earned him his lead in this championship and although it’s still early to be settling for second, he will be happy collecting more solid points.
For the best of the rest, it is difficult to look beyond Daniel Ricciardo. Red Bull should be faster than they were in Austria, while Williams should be slower. The Australian will be looking to reinforce his dominance over the out of sorts Sebastian Vettel this weekend. Alonso will be close though, and you can expect Bottas to be in with a shout.
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