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Formula One Preview: British Grand Prix

Written by Marcus Woodhouse, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

Credit: Dan Istitene/Getty Images

There’s no time for respite — it’s three in a row, for many it’s the pick of the bunch in this frenetic triple header, and it is of course the British Grand Prix. Since 1950, iconic teams and legendary drivers have fought wheel-to-wheel here and while Silverstone hasn’t always been the location, it is certainly a real favourite among fans and drivers alike nowadays.

Circuit Guide

Credit: Formula 1

Fast, free-flowing corners and no room for error encapsulate the Silverstone Circuit, while it’s one of those great tracks with historic names for all its sections. There are two DRS (Drag Reduction System) zones throughout the lap but overtaking still requires bravado and sometimes very late braking.

The drivers will roar away from the lights on Sunday down the Hamilton Straight, round the two high-speed turns of Abbey and Farm, before slamming on the brakes twice in quick succession to make it through Village and The Loop. Aintree is taken flat out heading into the DRS-assisted Wellington Straight.

Brooklands and Luffield feel wide and never-ending, acting as the perfect slingshot to accelerate through Woodcote and onto the old start-finish straight. Drivers often find themselves stranded side-by-side going into Copse, and either one driver pulls out, both drivers expertly steer clear of each other, or we end up with a major collision such as in 2021 between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Unwavering skill and focus are called upon through the tricky section of Maggots and Becketts into Chapel and out onto the Hangar Straight, where the engineers can finally come back on the radio if they need to without disrupting their driver. Stowe is a crucial right-hander off the back of the second boost of DRS, with the drivers taking as much kerb as they dare on the exit.

A short run down to the quick left-right of Vale follows, in which the drivers can opt to dive into the pits for a tyre change. Otherwise, they will steam around Club at full speed and complete their laps, hopefully improving on the one before.

Weekend Format

After the sprint weekend in Austria, we return to normality here in Silverstone and to the traditional 3pm race start time.

Schedule (in BST)

Practice 1 - Friday, 12:30 pm

Practice 2 - Friday, 16:00 

Practice 3 - Saturday, 11:30 

Qualifying - Saturday, 15:00 

Race - Sunday, 15:00 

Weather Forecast

As is typical of British summers, it’s looking like a potentially wet and showery weekend, with 60% chances of rain on Friday only dropping to 40% for Saturday and Sunday. Temperatures are expected to be cool, accompanied by overcast conditions and moderate wind all weekend.

Major Talking Points

  • Norris-Verstappen rivalry turning sour - It’s been all fun and games thus far for Verstappen and Lando Norris, both pushing each other but still remaining close off-track, until the duel between them in Austria boiled over and took Norris out of the race.  With both seeming unhappy with the other after the race, will it be all smiles again or is there now a steely edge to the fight at the front, and who will emerge victorious?

  • Has Perez lost his spark? - It was another hopeless weekend for the Mexican driver in Spielberg, managing to finish behind both the Haas of Nico Hulkenberg and his teammate who was limping home in fifth, and week by week he shows no signs of upping his game.  With a new contract in the bag, has Sergio Perez simply accepted his inferiority and lost his motivation, or is there life in the old dog yet?

  • Can Mercedes build on a shock win? - No one seemed more surprised at Mercedes’ unexpected victory at the Red Bull Ring than Toto Wolff, who admitted to erroneously blurting out to George Russell a message of support while he was midway through a corner.  After a few strong grands-prix for both drivers, and now a win to back them up if it was wholly engineered by the shenanigans ahead, can Mercedes push on from that brilliant result and continue to close the gap to the cars ahead of them?

Credit: Sam Bloxham/LAT Images

Last Race Recap

Saturday’s Sprint saw a fierce battle between Verstappen and the two chasing McLarens, with the Dutchman able to hold them off superbly and Oscar Piastri managing to outdo his teammate. Russell and Hamilton sandwiched the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, while Charles Leclerc recovered from a disastrous sprint qualifying final session to pip Perez for P7, who had to settle for a solitary point.

Verstappen then impressed in qualifying, setting blinding pace to ensure pole position ahead of Norris, while Piastri was caught out by track limits and ended up seventh on the grid. Mercedes and Ferrari split the two McLarens, criss-crossing between the two teams back from Russell. Perez was disappointing in eighth, while Hulkenberg and Ocon filled out the fifth row of the grid.

The lights blinked out and Norris was left in his rival’s wake, forced to hold off his fellow countryman behind to even maintain second place.

Leclerc’s weekend was ruined by an early collision with Piastri, squeezed in the middle of a three-way battle on the first lap and emerging wounded and limping into the pits for a front wing change. Piastri meanwhile continued to battle Perez, until the Mexican seemed to uncompromisingly force his rival into the gravel.

Scraps continued among the frontrunning pack, as Sainz, Hamilton, and Russell all switched positions, before Piastri finally made his way past Perez to take sixth position.

All the while, Verstappen was extending his lead out front, with Norris unable to make any advances on him and instead having to watch him sail away into the distance. Leclerc pitted again to abandon his fairly fresh tyres and emerged plumb last, a sorry sight from the man who mastered Monaco just a few weeks before.

Fernando Alonso was getting himself involved in the action as well, as the stewards adjudged him to have punted Zhou Guanyu off the track and then overtaken him, earning him a ten second time penalty.

Hamilton was also penalised by five seconds for crossing the white line on the pit entry, a misdemeanour that Piastri was quick to report on the radio. Verstappen was investigated but then cleared for an unsafe release into Norris’ path, before Perez was punished for speeding in the pit lane with the customary five second penalty.

A comfortable race for the reigning champion soon darkened, as Verstappen complained of the poor state of his tyres and saw Norris closing up behind him. Both drivers soon dived into the pits, but a poor stop from the Red Bull crew knocked the gap between them down to around two seconds.

Norris was going for the lead of the race a couple of laps later, but was left frustrated by Verstappen’s apparent moving under braking, an offence strictly forbidden in Formula 1.

The race win looked destined to be heading to the man from Bristol, until he was shown a black-and-white flag for track limits that threatened to soil his bid for glory.

On Lap 59 he made a huge dive down the inside into Turn 3 but no car’s brakes could have kept him in the white lines, and he not only let his rival back through but also fell foul of yet another track limit, for which he was handed a five second penalty.

Credit: Andy Hone/LAT Images

This proved academic though, as following another couple of laps of fierce fighting, the pair came to blows as Verstappen appeared to veer into Norris, puncturing a tyre on both cars and allowing Russell to sweep through incredulously to take the lead of the race.

Norris made the decision to retire the car when all looked lost, while Verstappen and his team managed to get his car back up and running to take P5, despite an ultimately meaningless ten second time penalty for his role in the incident.

It was Russell who ended up taking the chequered flag, ahead of Piastri and Sainz who filled out the rest of the surprised podium. Hamilton made the most of a self-admitted poor weekend to take fourth, while Verstappen stayed more than ten seconds clear of the cars behind to finish in fifth.

Hulkenberg and Perez were scrapping until the very end, but it was the German who managed to best his rival and, combined with Kevin Magnussen’s P8, it was a hugely successful weekend for the Haas team.

Daniel Ricciardo put together a strong performance to take P9, while Pierre Gasly did very well to keep Leclerc and his disgruntled teammate Esteban Ocon behind for the final points position. It was another poor showing from Aston Martin, as Lance Stroll was their lead driver down in P13 and Alonso ended up eighteenth.

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