As many of you probably know, Formula 1 will be racing twice in two weekends at Silverstone, the site where the first-ever Grand Prix of the World Championship of Drivers took place. The 2020 British Grand Prix will be the first of the two events and, after three good races to start the year, the anticipation for this weekend is quite high, even with Mercedes and especially Lewis Hamilton running the show from the front.
The race at Silverstone will be the fourth of a 2020 calendar which is now constructed by 13 confirmed Grands Prix, with the latest additions being a race at the Nurburgring in Germany, at Portimao in Portugal and the return of the iconic Imola track at Italy.
Also, Grands Prix in Canada, the United States of America, Mexico and Brazil were cancelled, as the Covid-19 crisis in America is still quite concerning on all aspects.
What to expect from the race?
Well, Mercedes has been strong at Silverstone even in 2013, when Nico Rosberg won after Lewis Hamilton’s blown tyre and Sebastian Vettel’s gearbox trouble allowed him to take the lead of the Grand Prix.
Mercedes has won six of the last seven races at Silverstone and has been dominant in the Hybrid Era, especially in 2014 and last year, were their duo of drivers easily pulled away from their rivals. Hamilton won in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and last year, while finishing second in 2018 after Kimi Raikkonen spun him around at the start.
So, the picture for this race might be clear, if the recent Grands Prix at Silverstone tell us anything. Hamilton should be the man to beat and Mercedes the team to look out for.
Even with Red Bull having competitive pace at the two races at Austria, the first three races for Mercedes’ main ‘rivals’ has been terrible, considering the last few years. Red Bull suffered reliability issues in the first race and was considerably off the pace in the qualifying session at the Hungaroring, a track where Max Verstappen was on Pole Position in 2019.
Verstappen saved the race at Budapest after a strong start aligned with Bottas’ disastrous getaway secured him a hard-fought second place. Also, Alex Albon’s form in the last two weekends has not been great, though he did manage to reach a solid P5 at Hungary after starting 13th.
The Thai driver started the year behind Verstappen but he had reasonable pace and he even had the chance to win the first race of the year after a good call to put the soft tyres by Red Bull had him third behind the two Mercedes, which were on worn hard tyres.
Albon’s chances received somewhat of a boost during the week, as the team announced Simon Rennie returning to work as a trackside engineer for the team. Rennie had been Daniel Ricciardo’s race engineer during the Australian driver stint with Red Bull and worked with Mark Webber previously. Mike Lugg was Albon’s race engineer at the start of this campaign.
Ferrari, well… the Chairman of the brand, John Elkann has asked the Tifosi to be patient with the team, as they are preparing for the 2022 change in regulations to “returning to winning”.
Elkann has recognised the team has had “project errors” which have not helped them be competitive and that the Scuderia has had “structural weaknesses… for some time”. Elkann talked about Ferrari’s situation to Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport.
Ferrari announced last week that the team would be restructuring their technical department with the introduction of a Performance Development Department. With many rumours and talks about Mattia Binotto’s job being in danger, Elkann also revealed he has “total trust” in the Team Principal at Maranello.
A fight between the Mercedes drivers or can someone challenge them?
Well, last season Ferrari and Red Bull were very close to the Silver Arrows on Saturday, with Charles Leclerc qualifying third behind Valtteri Bottas and Hamiton, just 79 thousands of a second from Pole. Verstappen, on his side, qualified fourth and was less than two-tenths of Bottas’ lap time.
However, it would be normal to see Mercedes leading the way and with the rest of its competitor waiting for changeable conditions, whether they are produced by the rain or multiple Safety Cars, with the latest being a usual Achilles Heel for the reigning champions.
With Silverstone not only being a test for the downforce of the cars in the Maggotts-Beckett-Chapel section but also a power track, Ferrari is bound to struggle on the engine side as they did at the Red Bull Ring.
Well, given how the grid was constructed at Hungary, with only the Mercedes being a lock for the first two places, we can say —even knowing it is still early— that the midfield has actually disappeared. While it might seem great news, the actual truth is that Red Bull and Ferrari have regressed and not necessarily teams like Racing Point —even with their boost in performance—, McLaren or Renault have actually caught them in terms of pace.
Racing Point has emerged as somewhat of a second force, at least in qualifying for the previous race, but they haven’t really taken advantage of their pace on Sunday. Lance Stroll had a stellar weekend at Hungary, starting third and finishing fourth with good pace and really without having any pressure from behind. Sergio Pérez, though he had some physical issues, managed a nice P7 after starting fourth. The team locked the second row of the grid, but they weren’t able to find a podium spot. McLaren had a bad weekend at Hungary, where they were expected to compete for solid points.
The similarity of Racing Point’s car with the Mercedes W10 of last year can provide the team with a big chance at Silverstone, a track where all the recent Mercedes cars —even the V8 2013 car— have been great.
The pink car, the RP20, has been protested twice in the last two races by Renault. The French team is confident that the brake ducts of Racing Point’s challenger are exactly as the Mercedes from last year, both externally (which is visible) and internally.
Renault, on the side of their results, had a difficult outing at Hungary, with both Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon missing the third part of qualifying and with Ricciardo salvaging just four points on Sunday with eighth place.
Alpha Tauri, Alfa Romeo and Williams did not score points in Hungary, though Williams did sow improvement, with their two cars reaching Q2 for the first time since the 2018 Italian Grand Prix.
Alpha Tauri had scored points in the first two rounds, but it was Haas’ moment to open their scoring tally, with Kevin Magnussen taking 10th place after a good strategy call before the start of the race. The started with the entire field with tyres for rain, but both Haas drivers started on slick tyres.
What now for Vettel?
Sebastian Vettel was the only point-scorer for Ferrari at Hungary and his future still holds many doubts. The German is allegedly analyzing a move to Racing Point and the decision might come soon, with Sergio Pérez’s contract deadline to confirm him as a 2021 driver with the team set to be triggered on 31 July.
Auto Bild’s correspondent Bianca Garloff has reported that Vettel “only has to agree. Then he has the seat”.
2020 British GP Facts & Figures
This will be the 71st British Grand Prix since the creation of the World Championship of Drivers. The race is one of the most iconic in the Formula 1 world and has been part of each championship since 1950.
British drivers lead the table in terms of the World Champions by country, with 10 racers winning 19 titles for the UK. With multiple World Champions being British, such as Hamilton, Jackie Stewart or Jim Clark it is therefore not a surprise to see Hamilton and Clark as the most successful competitors in the British Grand Prix.
Hamilton won six times his home Grand Prix, while Clark did it five times too. Hamilton is tied with Alain Prost with six victories at their home race, and Clark is second in the list with five. Nigel Mansell (4), Stirling Moss (2), Jackie Stewart (2) and David Coulthard are the other British drivers to win at home multiple times.
Before the inception of the World Championship, the British Grand Prix was held four times. The first two British Grand Prix occurred in 1926 under the regulations of the AIACR World Manufacturers’ Championship. French drivers Robert Sénéchal and Louis Wagner won the first race after a 463-kilometre-long event at Brooklands, while Robert Benoist won in 1927 after taking 125 laps at the same 4.21-kilometre circuit of Brooklands.
The other two non-championship British Grands Prix were held in 1948 and 1949 at Silverstone, both won by Maserati drivers Luigi Villoresi and Emmanuel de Graffenried.
Amongst drivers, Hamilton is the most successful with six victories and Ferrari leads McLaren in the teams’ standings, having won 16 races to the British team’s 14.
Legendary teams Ferrari and Williams both achieved their first-ever F1 win in a British GP event. Ferrari won in 1951 with José Froilán González and Williams did it with Clay Regazzoni in 1979.
Also, Williams’ achieved their 100th Grand Prix win in the 1997 British Grand Prix, with victory for Jacques Villeneuve.
Of course, the British Grand Prix has given us amazing memories. From Giuseppe Farina’s win in the first-ever Grand Prix to the battle between the Silver Arrows of Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss in 1955. From Nigel Mansell beating Nelson Piquet in 1987 after a beautiful dummy heading into Stowe to Michael Schumacher winning in 1998 by serving a Drive-through penalty in the final lap or a man entering the track in 2003 with the cars flying by his side at unbelievable speeds.
More recently, we saw Hamilton’s amazing victory in the wet 2008 race with more than a minute over the second-placed car and lapping every car which finished outside the podium. Also, in 2014 there was a fantastic battle between Fernando Alonso and his Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull.
Last year, the race was awesome, with glimpses of the future of the sport in Verstappen and Charles Leclerc and a stunning win by Hamilton.
Silverstone received the first-ever Formula 1 race on 13 May 1950 and will be hosting its 54th British Grand Prix on Sunday.
Since 1987, Silverstone has been the home of the British Grand Prix every year.
The track’s nature has always been the same: a power track with sweeping corners which demand a lot of bravery from the drivers. Though the layout has been changed quite significantly since the first time this former World War II Royal Air Force Station received a Grand Prix, its essence remains.
The current layout, which has not had significant tweaks since 2011, is 5.891 km long and is constructed by 18 corners, with around 10 of those turns being fast-speed corners.
The circuit’s current records were established last year, with Bottas’ Pole lap being the outright record (1:25.093 min) and Hamilton’s Fastest Lap (on the last lap and with worn hard tyres) of 1:27.369 min.
The track was really unchanged from 1948 to 1990, with the exception of some tweaks to prevent some high speeds that were becoming a little too dangerous for the drivers. Still, the track is one of the most historic ones in the Grand Prix world and it maintains its most iconic sections.
What happened in the 2019 British Grand Prix?
Bottas and Hamilton got off to good starts, but the Englishman was all over his teammate in the early laps and even overtook him at the entry of Luffield, but the Finnish driver got the place back at the next corner, Copse.
Behind the Mercs, there were good fights between Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris initially and mainly between Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen. Even the struggling Pierre Gasly got off to a feisty start in his Red Bull and was closely following Vettel’s Ferrari. At the back, Romain Grosjean and Magnussen collided and eventually retired in what was a nightmare for Haas.
Bottas pitted and let Hamilton in the lead with his pitstop to be made later. A spun by Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi brought the Safety Car out and it was just what Hamilton needed to find a way past his teammate and lead the race comfortably at the front, given his incredible pace.
The Safety Car meant trouble for Leclerc, who was able to hold every attempt by Verstappen, but lost his position after the team decided to pit him a lap later than Verstappen did behind the Safety Car and even Gasly had leapfrogged him. Vettel was running third behind the two-stopping Bottas as he had also benefited from the SC.
Gasly was ahead of Verstappen, in third, but the Dutchman overtook him easily, and with great team coordination and started to follow Vettel’s third place. Leclerc took P4 from Gasly beautifully around the outside of Village, while Verstappen was all-out attacking Vettel.
Verstappen overtook Vettel heading into Stowe. As Verstappen took the inside to overtake, his line into the corner was not the best, while Vettel was on the outside and accelerated faster on the exit. As Vettel tried to retake the place from the Dutch racer, he misjudged his breaking point and crashed into the Red Bull’s rear. Both cars ended in the gravel at the Vale chicane, both could continue even after the heavy impact.
Vettel was given a 10-second penalty and finished 16th, while Verstappen came home in fifth.
Leclerc was promoted to the third place he had strongly defended early in the race. Bottas made his final pitstop and maintained second place, while Hamilton was cruising in the lead. The Englishman was called into the pits before Bottas’ second stop, but he did not pit. Instead, Hamilton went for the Fastest Lap on the final lap and established the lap record around the track and won the 70th British Grand Prix in history on a great Sunday for Formula 1.
The top 10 was filled by Carlos Sainz in sixth for McLaren, Ricciardo seventh for Renault, Kimi Raikkonen eighth for Alfa Romeo, Daniil Kvyat ninth for Toro Rosso and Nico Hulkenberg in 10th for Renault.
2020 British Grand Prix - Tyres
For this race, we will have different compounds for the first time. The tyres will be the C1 (white-colored hard tyre), the C2 (yellow-colored medium tyre) and the C3 (red-colored softest tyre). In the first races, Pirelli had established the C2, the C3 and the C4 compounds, which were a step softer than the choice for this weekend.
Given the short calendar and the circumstances, it was determined that Pirelli will be deciding each team tyre allocations for the race. Each driver will receive two sets of hard tyres, three sets of mediums and eight sets of soft tyres.
This will be interesting, as the choice for last year was exactly the same. With the current compounds being the same as last year, the teams will be well-prepared for the challenge, though the climatic situation can always be different from year to year.
Since the change to the wider cars and tyres in 2017, the race has normally been a one-stopper. Of course, Safety Cars can alter everything, as it happened in the 2018 race. Last season, Bottas decided to go for a two-stop which really did not work after the Safety Car came out just after he made his pitstop and before Hamilton made his only planned stop. However, Bottas’ pace in the start of the race was not considerably faster than Hamilton’s and it would’ve been hard to make it work.
Last season, the Mercedes drivers and Verstappen started the race with the medium tyres, while Ferrari gambled with a start on the soft tyre which really was not a bad idea. Leclerc pitted on lap 13 and Verstappen did it on the same lap. Vettel, on his side, was able to extend his first stint until the Safety Car came out and was looking good for a podium. Of course, those strategies might not be replicated this year as the temperatures might differ, and if there’s rain coming for the third weekend in a row in any of the main sessions, then dry tyres will be an afterthought.
2020 British Grand Prix Weather Forecast
As always, the British weather can surprise us. The last time we had a wet race at Silverstone was in 2016, with the start being behind the Safety Car. Also, the rain arrived in 2015 around mid-race and it was a nice mix for the race, which had been a Mercedes-Williams battle in the early stages.
At the moment, a dry weekend seems likely, according to AccuWeather.
Saturday, August 1st - FP3 & Qualifying
Conditions: Sunny with some clouds
Max. temperature: 22°C
Chance of rain: 9%
Sunday, August 2nd - Race
Conditions: Sunny with some clouds
Max. temperature: 21°C
Chance of rain: 6%
Who will be on the 2020 British Grand Prix Podium?
After predicting three wins for Verstappen in the first three races, we have decided that this track probably will not allow another prediction of that caliber to become reality. Hamilton is a master at Silverstone.
To his six wins, the English legend has added three other podium places in the 13 races he has started at Silverstone since 2007. Hamilton has also started from Pole Position six times and has started seven times in the front row.
Mercedes will probably be the strongest team on track and Hamilton does not need much to be competing at the front. Of course, Bottas outqualified Hamilton last year at Silverstone and will be competitive, which is something he desperately needs to cut Hamilton’s streak.
Who will be the second force is a really interesting question. Red Bull and Ferrari have certainly taken a step back in their performance. Red Bull should be better this weekend, as they have declared that their car’s potential has not been unleashed by them from a setup point of view. However, if the Racing Point car can be as competitive as it was in the first races, which have shown a versatile pink car, then they might be in contention for podium places and even a victory if we have a mixed-race.
‘Checo’ has normally been Racing Point’s main weapon in recent years, with the driver achieving five podiums for the team’s predecessor squad, Force India. However, Lance Stroll was the top runner for the pink team at Hungary and even though Pérez’s Hungary performance was attributed to physical issues, the mental aspect of a driver whose seat —seemingly secure for next year— is currently under threat due to the possible arrival of a four-time World Champion.
Here we go. The top three for the 2020 British Grand Prix will be 1. Lewis Hamilton, 2. Lance Stroll, 3. Max Verstappen.
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