2021 British Grand Prix Preview

IT’S COMING HOME

No, not football, but instead the greatest sport on four wheels. Formula One this weekend, after an action pack start of the season, is finally at the home of the sport. This is, of course, for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, located in Northamptonshire close to Milton Keynes, Brackley and the town of Silverstone. These are all bases of some of F1 biggest teams, including that of the two contenders Mercedes and Red Bull. Silverstone, over the years, has been one of the staples of the season, having hosted the very first race all the way back in 1950. Over this time, it has gone from the perimeter circuit of a world war two airfield to one of the finest tracks in the world. Although the circuit layout has not changed now for the better part of the decade, you would be wrong to assume this weekend will be like any we have seen in recent history

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First of all, this weekend will see the debut of the Hamilton Straight. This the first time any part of the track has been named after a driver, let alone an active driver. It reflects the contribution to the sport that Hamilton has had over the last 15 seasons, having won close to 100 races with more than 100 poles and a record-equalling 7 world titles. The Hamilton Straight is what used to be the international straight, and at 2 pm on Sunday, 20 F1 cars will line up next to each other on it for the 2021 edition of the British Grand Prix.

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The question which needs to be answered is who will line up on pole for the race. This is a good question, as at Silverstone, there will be a sprint qualifying race for the first time in F1 history. If you would like a straightforward explanation, then the Formula One website explains how this will all happen. All you need to know otherwise is that this is another one of the ideas which Liberty Media, FOM and the FIA have hastily thought through. Although this does mean that there is a meaningful session on each day of the weekend, it does take away a lot of the Saturday qualifying charm, with no guarantee of a better grid. All this will do is make the race longer, consequently starting on a Saturday and pausing a quarter of the way through. This makes a win for a big team more likely as they can use the Saturday sprint race to make up any positions they may have lost prior. My prediction for pole after Saturday’s sprint race is Lewis Hamilton, with the British fans being “the best fans” and the past five races being a blend of the frustrating he will grapple with his Mercedes W12 and drag a classic Hamilton masterclass out of the car.

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The traditional qualifying session gets bumped to Friday, at 6 pm GMT. This will then form the grid for the Saturday sprint qualifying race. Who will come out on top by Friday evening? All bets are off, with Hamilton always loving his home race, having won it a record 7 times. Getting a pole could also be the catalyst for Lewis to get back in with a solid shout of what would be a record 8th Championship.  Hamilton is currently lagging behind Max Verstappen in the World Drivers Championship by 32 points with 14 rounds to go (as long we still get a race in the slot vacated by the Australian GP). My prediction for pole going into Saturday’s sprint qualifying race is Max Verstappen, with him currently on fantastic form and Lewis currently seemingly lacking on one lap pace this season.

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For the race on Sunday, we all hope for an action-packed classic. That is what each and every one of the 140,000 strong crowd deserves. I will start my race predictions by saying that Lewis will win the race; although Max has the form, Lewis will have the heart and desire for victory. Lewis on his day is unbeatable, as all teammates past and present know all too well. Past that, I believe that Max will get yet another podium making it 8 for him out of the past 9. The final podium position is likely to go to either Perez or Bottas. But after the horrid time that Lando Norris has endured since his famous podium last time out in Austria, seeing England lose the final of the Euros at Wembley, afterwards getting mugged on his way out of the stadium. He will want to bounce back strong, aiming for back to back podiums for the first time of his young and promising career. If he achieves this, it will be yet another sign of Mclarens bounce back after a horrid first five years of the turbo-hybrid era, with the last two having seen them rise back to third fastest. It further shows that Mclaren was correct to back him for the drive in 2019, with him dominating his experienced team Daniel Riccardo so far. Talking of Riccardo, he will want to continue his recent excellent race performances, and I back him to score strongly. This is alongside Pierre Gasly, who, alongside the previously mentioned Bottas and Perez, will make for the top 7 finishers around Silverstone. Past this, I expect Ferrari to continue their 2021 resurgence, after their worst season in around 40 years back in 2020 with points finishes for both Sainz and Leclerc. The final spot out of hope, if not genuine belief, is George Russell to break his Williams duck and grab the final points-paying position around his home GP, which in and of itself would be an incredible story.

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I will finish this off with a couple of stories for the weekend:

On Thursday (15th), a full-scale model of the 2022 car design, which will see a truly radical shift in design, is set to be shown to the public. This design will usher in a new generation of cars which should involve closer racing, becoming less aero dependent.

George Russell also announced on Tuesday (13th) that there will be no announcement on his future heading into Silverstone. It is rumoured that he was going to be announced that as teammates with Lewis Hamilton in 2022 during the British GP weekend. Although there may not be any announcement, it is still widely expected he will be in the second Mercedes seat come 2022

Finally, Alfa Romeo confirmed that it will continue its relationship with Sauber on a multi-year extension of the current deal. I would expect to see a Ferrari junior driver kept in the second seat for years to come as a part of the deal. This is good news to Ferrari Driver Academy drivers across F2 and F3 alongside Callum Illott. One of the drivers to have benefited from this arrangement is Charles Leclerc, who is now at Ferrari and is one of the best drivers on the grid.

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