The 10th round of the 2017 Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula One World Championship takes place this weekend at the Silverstone Circuit in Northamptonshire in England.
Sebastian Vettel comes into the British Grand Prix with the championship lead on 171 points, 20 points ahead of championship rival Lewis Hamilton (151 points), after the Ferrari driver finished second at the Austrian Grand Prix last weekend, pushing eventual winner, Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, all the way.
Hamilton lost ground to Vettel in the championship standings after being forced to take a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change in his Mercedes. Starting from eighth on the grid, Hamilton managed to make up four positions before running out of time to pass Daniel Ricciardo for the final spot on the podium.
The winner of the Austrian Grand Prix, Bottas, is third in the world drivers’ championship on 136 points, 35 points behind Vettel, and in some people’s eyes, is starting to look like a serious championship contender, but if he is not considered by people as a serious championship contender, Bottas is at least stealing critical points away from Vettel on the days that Hamilton is having a struggle.
Ricciardo is fourth in the world championship in his Red Bull on 107 points, 64 points behind Vettel in the world championship after achieving his fifth-consecutive podium at the Austrian Grand Prix after holding off a fast-charging Hamilton, and although he isn’t a serious championship contender in 2017, Ricciardo has been in the right place at the right time to pick up the pieces when more fancied rivals are having a tough day, or weekend, to grab some solid results.
Someone who should be a championship contender is Kimi Räikkönen, but he is struggling in fifth position in the world championship on 83 points after finishing fifth at the Austrian Grand Prix. He is under serious pressure to keep his seat at Ferrari for 2018, and with a number of rising stars putting in some great performances in lesser machinery, his career could be coming to an end at the end of 2017.
Sergio Pérez is sixth in the world championship on 50 points, and has been putting in some solid performances in his Force India, just like his teammate Esteban Ocon, who sits in eighth in the drivers’ championship on 39 points.
However, it is the man who sits in seventh position in the championship that has had all the bad luck that you could imagine! Max Verstappen is having a horror run, with his third retirement in a row, and his fifth retirement of the season, which is precisely his fifth retirement in the last seven races.
Verstappen sits on 45 points in the world championship after finishing just four races out of the opening nine rounds. He has had problems ranging from a brake failure in Bahrain, to damage from a first lap collision with Räikkönen in Spain, to an electrical issue in Canada, to an oil pressure issue in Azerbaijan, to more opening lap collision damage in Austria.
In addition to this, Verstappen had misfire problems with his engine/powerunit in qualifying in China, which contributed to him starting 16th on the grid, which he recovered from spectacularly after a brilliant start, picking up nine places on the opening lap, which was the catalyst to his awesome drive to third, beating his teammate Ricciardo in the process.
So, Verstappen has only had three weekends where qualifying and/or the race hasn’t been interrupted by a serious issue. He needs a result this weekend to keep within touch of the front-runners in this world championship.
In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes still lead the way on 287 points, 23 points ahead of Ferrari (254 points). Red Bull are third on 152 points, while Force India are fourth on 89 points.
Looking at who will be strong at Silverstone this weekend, the fast-flowing nature of the circuit combined with a couple of long straights, the Wellington and Hangar straights to be precise, should suit the long-wheelbase of the Mercedes, although you would expect Ferrari to be a strong package at Silverstone, and you cannot rule out Red Bull here at a track which has suited them in the past.
However, only four of the current drivers have won the British Grand Prix, and while no one expects the winner of the 2006 and 2011 race, Fernando Alonso, to challenge in his McLaren-Honda, the other three drivers are all in race-winning machinery, and are capable of grabbing the crucial 25 points that are on offer.
Kimi Räikkönen, the 2007 winner looks the least likely given his form, but what is most is most surprising is that Sebastian Vettel has only won the British Grand Prix once, all the way back in 2009, the last race on the old layout in his first year with Red Bull. He will be looking to give Ferrari their first win at Silverstone since 2011.
Lewis Hamilton, on the otherhand, has a wonderful record at the British Grand Prix, winning the race four times, including the last three editions. He will be looking to join Jim Clark and Alain Prost as a five-time winner of the British Grand Prix, as well as become the first driver since Clark to win the British Grand Prix four years in a row.
And, if Hamilton grabs pole position on Saturday for the British Grand Prix, he will move to within one of Michael Schumacher’s record of 68 career pole positions in Formula One.
So my tip this weekend is for a fifth British Grand Prix victory for Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone.
The first two practice sessions (90 minutes each) are on Friday at 9am and 1pm local time (6pm and 10pm AEST).
The final practice session (60 minutes) and qualifying is on Saturday at 10am and 1pm local time (7pm and 10pm AEST).
The 52 lap race is on Sunday from 1pm local time (10pm AEST).