F1 2021 British Grand Prix Preview: Will Hamilton Return to Winning Ways on Home Ground?
Two weeks is a long time without a race in Formula 1, especially after the triple-header we just experienced. Red Bull and Max Verstappen are in the ascendency after the Dutchman has claimed a hat-trick of wins in as many rounds.
Sir Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have it all to do, but F1 and the world champions are coming home to Silverstone this weekend. Also thrown into the mix is the first of three sprint qualifying sessions that provides the biggest shakeup to a Grand Prix weekend in decades.
There’s a lot to talk about ahead of the 2021 British Grand Prix weekend, so let’s get into our preview!
Silverstone hosted the very first Formula 1 Grand Prix in 1950. While the circuit has changes over the years, it still remains one of the fastest tracks on the calendar. The high-speed corners of Abbey (1), Copse (9), Stowe (15) and the Maggots-Becketts-Chapel complex are some of the best corners in the world.
Silverstone is an absolute fan-favourite and we will see a full-capacity crowd this weekend, meaning up to 150,000 will be cheering on Hamilton, Lando Norris, George Russell and co. on Sunday.
The British Grand Prix rewards a car that is both fast in a straight line and can corner rapidly without wearing the tyres out. The forecast is calling for dry, hot conditions throughout the weekend, so it’s doubtful we’ll see rain deluge the circuit.
Something else to note is that the pit-straight between the first and final corners is now named after Hamilton. So, he’ll be racing on a piece of track that’s dedicated to him.
Last time out
Verstappen won both of the Red Bull Ring rounds at a canter, as his driver’s championship tally is now 32 points higher than Hamilton. Red Bull also achieved their fifth win a row and show little sign of that ending anytime soon.
It was a classic light to flag victory for Verstappen, as he claimed pole and the fastest lap. This sealed his first-ever Grand Slam and he also became the youngest man to ever do so, as 23 years old.
Valtteri Bottas was a very distant second, as Norris continued his mesmeric season to claim another podium in third. Hamilton had damage caused by Austria’s harsh kerbs, but he still brought his Mercedes home in fourth place.
Carlos Sainz had a rousing drive to fifth, thanks to his mega stint on hard tyres at the start of the race. Sergio Perez finished fifth on the road, but his penalties for running Charles Leclerc off the circuit (twice) dropped him to sixth. Daniel Ricciardo recovered from another poor qualifying to classify seventh in the end.
Leclerc was a disappointing eighth on a day when McLaren scored big again. Pierre Gasly scored points again for AlphaTauri in ninth, with Fernando Alonso rounding off the top ten.
An honourable mention has to go to George Russell, who just missed out on his first points for Williams in eleventh.
Can Mercedes stop Red Bull’s winning streak?
Hamilton and Mercedes won three of the opening four rounds and it seemed as though both were heading for an eighth championship crown each. However, since the Monaco Grand Prix, the form book has completely turned, with Red Bull winning every race.
It’s Verstappen that has won four of those five as well and, truth be told, he would’ve won in Baku as well if it wasn’t for his puncture.
Historically, Silverstone is a very happy hunting ground for Mercedes, having won all but one British Grand Prix since 2013. Furthermore, no driver has won more British Grands Prix than Sir Lewis (7). If there’s one thing that 2021 has taught us though, it’s that history means nothing, as Red Bull appears unstoppable.
You do, however, have to go back to Mark Webber in 2012 for Red Bull’s last British GP win. You only have to go back eleven months for their last Silverstone victory though, as Verstappen won last year’s 70th anniversary GP.
Mercedes really struggled with tyre wear in Silverstone during both of last year’s races. Bottas and Hamilton both suffered punctures and while Lewis still won the race, he’ll do very well to have such a gap to lean on. Although, if you believe Toto Wolff, then Mercedes will win by 30 seconds thanks to their upgrades. Very bold words indeed.
Qualifying on Friday (yes, it’s on Friday this weekend) will tell us a lot, but there’s no indications that Verstappen and Red Bull will be letting up anytime soon.
Practice 1: 16 July 14:30-15:30 (9:30-10:30 AM EST)
Qualifying: 16 July 18:00-19:00 (1:00-2:00 PM EST)
Practice 2: 17 July 12:00-13:00 (7:00-8:00 AM EST)
Sprint Qualifying: 17 July 16:30-17:00 (11:30 AM -12:00 PM EST)
Race: 18 July 15:00 (10:00 EST)
All times are in British Standard Time (BST), unless stated otherwise.
Grid Talk Podcast
Want more content to preview your British Grand Prix weekend? The Grid Talk crew have you covered with their British GP Prixvew. Ruby Price hosted Owain Medford, Louis Edwards and Phil Mathew in the latest podcast. Both audio and video versions are linked below:
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