It’s Coming Home: British Grand Prix Preview
The FIA Formula 1 British Grand Prix is one of the highlights of the Great British summer of sport, and its designation by the government as a test event will see the much-heralded return of a capacity crowd to the Silverstone grandstands.
Ones to Watch
The UK’s current crop of F1 drivers have all impressed during the first half of the 2021 season, but a home race and the roar of a supportive crowd have always been worth an extra tenth of a second. This is the race the Brits all want to win or do well in.
While Sir Lewis Hamilton MBE is driving like he has a record-extending eighth world Drivers’ Championship in the tank, the power to resist the hard-charging Red Bulls rests in his team’s hands rather than his own. A double defeat in Austria – Rounds 8 and 9 of the season – only served to consolidate Max Verstappen’s assault on the 2021 title race. If anyone can help Lewis bounce back to the top step of the podium, it is the mighty Mercedes AMG F1 team, and the Brackley squad have been burning the midnight oil to try to reverse their talisman’s fortunes. With 14 rounds remaining of this bumper 23-race season, there is still everything to play for.
Hot on Lewis’ heels is Motorsport UK Academy alumnus Lando Norris, who is making a big third-year step in his F1 career. The McLaren driver is giving his significantly more experienced teammate Daniel Ricciardo a run for his money and has already scored more points in the first nine rounds of 2021 than he did in either of his first two seasons. Fresh from a sensational weekend in Austria, where he brought his tally of third-place podium finishes to three, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that he could steal a march on Verstappen and Hamilton with a debut pole position, if not a win in the not-too-distant future.
Fellow Academy graduate and Mercedes Junior Driver George Russell has experienced plenty of highs and heartbreaks during his first two full seasons in Formula 1, but his skill and talent have never been in doubt. Who could forget that fantastic debut race for Mercedes in Bahrain last year? Russell has been patiently working towards a promotion to the top team, and his 100% qualifying record ahead of his teammates and making it through to Q3 in Austria have done him the power of good in pursuit of that mission. He is knocking on the door of his first points with his current berth, Williams Racing, and with a bit of luck that might just happen on home asphalt.
Formula 2 and W Series will be supporting the main event, ensuring plenty of track action for spectators between Formula 1 sessions. In Formula 2, Dan Ticktum, who won the second race at Monte Carlo earlier this year, will be flying the flag for the UK, alongside Williams reserve driver Jack Aitken, yet another Academy alumnus.
In W Series, the cream of the world’s best female racing talent will be sharing the F1 stage, chief among them Team UK’s Jamie Chadwick, who is once again leading the series, closely followed by fellow British drivers Sarah Moore and Alice Powell, who won the first race of the season in Austria. Making her W Series debut will be 18-year-old Abbi Pulling, who has never even been to a British Grand Prix weekend before, and whose first taste of the special Silverstone atmosphere will likely stay with her forever.
Sprint Qualifying debut
Devoted Formula 1 fans flocking to Silverstone have something even more special in store, as the British Grand Prix sees Sprint Qualifying making its debut on the Saturday. As well as the traditional qualifying, the Sprint Qualifying allows the opportunity for drivers to obtain additional points if they secure a place in the top three over the 100km sprint. The session will take place over 30 minutes and teams are able to select a tyre compound of their choice. With the standings closer than ever, the Sprint Qualifying is sure to produce some action-packed racing.
Where to keep up with the all the action
Watch the entire race weekend event on Sky Sports F1 and Channel 4 or listen in on BBC Radio 5 Live.
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