All eyes on Silverstone showpiece

Friday 05 July 2024

The crowds are flooding in, the entertainment is in full flow and the track action is primed. Over the years the British Grand Prix has produced some of Formula One’s most historic and memorable records and races – and another cracker is on the cards.  

Silverstone hosted the very first Formula One points-scoring World Championship race in May 1950, won by Giuseppe ‘Nino’ Farina in an Alfa Romeo in front of the watching King George VI. Britain is also one of just two countries that have been ever-present on the F1 World Championship calendar, the other being Italy.  

This may be the 75th British Grand Prix but the milestone 75th anniversary of that landmark day will be celebrated next summer. In the meantime, all eyes are firmly focused on Sunday’s showpiece which promises to be one of the most exciting Silverstone showdowns on record with the very real prospect of another British winner to send the packed crowds home happy. 

Over the years the blue riband race has been won by 11 drivers representing the UK. Between them Stirling Moss, Peter Collins, Jackie Stewart, John Watson, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Johnny Herbert, David Coulthard and Lewis Hamilton have clocked up no fewer than 25 triumphs with an unrivalled eight of those victories amassed by Hamilton on his own. 

Fresh from a Mercedes win last Sunday in Austria, Hamilton and his team-mate George Russell will both be buoyed up for Silverstone. On current form, though, it must be Lando Norris who is best placed for another famous home win.  

The 24-year-old scored his maiden F1 success with McLaren earlier this season and ever since – with increasing tenacity – the 2015 British F4 Champion has taken the fight to Red Bull’s reigning champion Max Verstappen. 

Former champion Jenson Button is tipping Norris for a famous victory on home soil and Lando knows he’s got a good chance.  

“We’re in good form,” he admitted when speaking to the media at Silverstone on Thursday afternoon. “We’ve been very close the last few races, but Mercedes have been getting closer and closer. They’ve taken a few steps. We’re in a good position, but so are Red Bull. So, I’m expecting a close battle between many of us.” 

And, having finished runner-up behind Verstappen last summer, he’s even keener to win on Sunday.  

“It’ll mean everything because this has been my dream since I was a kid,” he said. “I was watching Lewis and Fernando back in 2007, 2008 so now being here and having those opportunities, is special enough. Even standing up there last year in second place was already pretty amazing.” 

Russell has also been fantasising about winning at Silverstone since he was a kid. “Obviously winning any Grand Prix is an incredible feeling but you’re home Grand Prix is always the one that you dream of,” he agreed. “And I think we’re so fortunate to have Silverstone as our home race because I truly think this weekend is really special for the fans, the amount of support we all have here. They’re proper F1 enthusiasts. We came here as kids to watch other F1 races, so for sure it will always be special to get that opportunity.” 

Hamilton, of course, has savoured that incredible winning experience no fewer than eight times before – so is a ninth victory now within his grasp? “In terms of pure performance, I don’t think we are currently in the same place [as McLaren and Red Bull]… but we’re not that far behind. We’ve definitely seen some really huge strides forward and we are slowly inching closer to the front runners.” 

We will find out on Sunday just how much more Mercedes has inched closer to its major rivals. Although recent races have seen plenty of overtaking, qualifying on Saturday is important, too.  

The current 3.681-mile (5.891km) version of the ex-airfield circuit, with the start/finish line outside the Wing on the Hamilton Straight, has now been used 14 times, with 11 of those races won by drivers starting on the front row of the grid.  

Set-up and strategy tend to be more sensitive at Silverstone than most other tracks and the modern generation of hybrid cars race with a medium/low downforce set-up in what – British weather permitting – is usually a one-stop showdown.  

Pirelli brings its hardest compounds to Britain to cope with the immense cornering forces in the high-speed sections. For the engineers on the pit-wall, though, it is the compromises needed to get the cars through the slower corners at the start and end of every lap as swiftly as possible which occupy their minds.  

For all those not venturing to Silverstone, full live coverage is available on Sky Sports and free-to-air Channel 4. It really could be a cracker! 

2024 Formula 1 Qatar Airways British Grand Prix timetable 

Friday 5 July 

08:40-9:25  FIA Formula 3 Practice 

10:00-10:45 FIA Formula 2 Practice 

12:30-13:30  Formula 1 First Practice 

14:10-14:40  FIA Formula 3 Qualifying 

15:05-15:35  FIA Formula 2 Qualifying 

16:00-17:00  Formula 1 Second Practice 

17:40-18:25 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Practice 

Saturday 6 July 

09:20-10:05  FIA Formula 3 Sprint Race 

11:30-12:30  Formula 1 Third Practice 

13:15-14:05 FIA Formula 2 Sprint Race 

15:00-16:00  Formula 1 Qualifying 

16:45-17:15 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Qualifying 

Sunday 7 July 

08:20-09:10  FIA Formula 3 Feature Race 

09:55-11:00 FIA Formula 2 Feature Race 

11:55-12:30 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Race 

13:00-13:30 Formula 1 Drivers’ Parade 

14:46-14:48 National Anthem & RAF Red arrows Flypast 

15:00-17:00  Formula 1 Qatar Airways British Grand Prix