F1: Previewing the 2021 British GP
Racing returns to Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix. The tenth round of the 2021 Season will be packed by passionate fans in the grandstands as restrictions are eased to allow spectators back to view the sport they love. An epic title-fight is still underway but will Max Verstappen and Red Bull still have their advantage over their rivals?
After a two week break from F1's second race in Austria where Max Verstappen and Red Bull crusied home to take a comfortable fifth win of the season, the sport heads to Silverstone for the British GP. Unlike any other race round this iconic circuit, this weekend's event will be truly different as the sport trials the "Sprint Format" that aims to add to the action.
F1 trials new sprint format
The first ever trial run of the sprint format will take place this weekend. Unlike a usual race weekend, this will be slightly different and will be tested at two other tracks this year.
The schedule is slightly different. Still on Friday, there is a 60 minute Practice session but a few hours later, Qualifying will take place. The same set-up consisting on Q1, Q2 and Q3 will remain but this will set the grid for the Sprint Race.
The tyre rules will change for this session, with only soft tyres permitted throughout. As a result, teams and drivers will be free to start Sunday’s race on any compound, rather than having to run the tyre they qualify on in Q2.
STILL THE SAME: With the Sprint Race format, the Qualifying session has been moved to Friday instead of Saturday but it's still the same knock-out format
Designed to provide fans with more action and value for money across a whole weekend without taking focus away from the race on Sunday, the Sprint will see the teams take part in a 100km dash that will decide the starting grid for the Grand Prix.
Before the Sprint Race on Saturday, teams and drivers will have another Practice session, of 60 minutes, to get through before the 100km dash. There's no need to make a mandatory pit-stop and drivers will just need to lap Silverstone 17 times.
Points will be awarded to the top three finishers, three for the winner down to one point for third. There won’t be a podium ceremony, as that honour will remain the privilege of the top three in Sunday’s Grand Prix, however there will be a special post-Sprint presentation for the top three.
The finishing order of the race will define the grid for Sunday’s main event – the Grand Prix, where the traditional format will remain unchanged.
Luck on home soil: Hamilton hopes to find something extra
For the first time in the Hybrid era, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes admitted over the two races at Austria that they did not have the pace to fight for the outright victory. Mercedes have won every Constructor's and Driver's Titles since 2014 but are enduring their longest winless streak and are eager to find performance to match the combination of Verstappen and Red Bull.
CRUNCH TIME: Having lost the lead of the championship after Monaco, Hamilton would not be able to retake the lead after this weekend's race but it would bring him back into contention
Fans have to go back five races to the Spanish GP to find the last time Hamilton and Mercedes stood on the top step and even since them, he's only been on the podium twice and finished outside the points twice as well. But the stats are in the Brit's favour as he heads to his home circuit - a venue he's won at seven times before. It would be a good time for his 101th Pole as well with also seven previous Pole Position's here.
With a 32 point defecit to Verstappen, a victory in the next few races, or even finishing ahead of the Dutchman, would aid Hamilton's title charge for a world breaking eighth championship. Handing a slight advantage to Hamilton and team-mate Valterri Bottas's weekend will be the introduction of new upgrades Mercedes have brought. Given that both drivers were on the pace in France, many reckon only a small step up in performance will bring the Silver Arrows back into the frame with the team keeping very coy on the actual size of the upgrade.
Growing rumours swirl about Russell's future
One of the star peformers of the season so far, George Russell is literally driving the wheels off of his Williams and maximising the potential of his FW43B. The British driver, who reached the top-ten shoot-out for the first time in his career last time out in Austria, was only seconds from finishing inside the points after a late overtake by Alpine's Fernando Alonso dashed his hopes of a well-deserved result.
NOW'S THE TIME: Russell is in his third season at Williams, a team who have endured a difficult couple of seasons at the back of the grid, but many in the sport feel that he should be in a more competitive car next year
Russell is in contention to race at Mercedes new year as the Brit has been part of their junior programme since 2017. Mercedes, who agreed a new two-year deal with Hamilton, have said they will decide over the summer who they want to partner the Reigning World Champion. Current driver Valterri Bottas's contract expires at the end of this year and has said he'd like to remain on the grid next year even if that's not with Mercedes who he has driven for since 2017.