British Grand Prix preview – Hamilton aiming for home immortality

Local hero Lewis Hamilton enters his home race at Silverstone with the aim of not only extending his world championship lead but becoming the most successful driver of all time at the British Grand Prix.

That Hamilton is already a great of the sport is of little doubt, but he can further cement his name at the top of the all-time list by recording a record sixth victory at the iconic Northamptonshire venue that would put him ahead of fellow Brits Jim Clark and Nigel Mansell and French great, Alain Prost.

In order to win, Hamilton must first qualify well and then avoid any early incidents similar to the tangle with Kimi Raikkonen that sent him to the back of the field and cost him victory last year, despite a stunning recovery drive to second.

The next worry for Hamilton and Mercedes will be the hot English summer, the team experiencing problems with their cooling systems in Austria during a race where they struggled to match the pace of Ferrari and Red Bull.

“We’ve been working on our cooling for a while, but the combination of high temperatures and altitude in Spielberg ultimately meant that we had to do too much temperature management to be competitive,” commented Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff in his race preview. We will continue to work on this to have a better fighting chance at future races in the heat.

“Fortunately, the English summer is known for more moderate temperatures, so cooling should not be a major issue for us in Silverstone – although we’ve learned in the past that the weather at the British GP can be highly changeable.”

Next on the check list for Mercedes is keeping ahead of rivals Ferrari and Red Bull, which will be no easy feat, although the circuit, on paper, should play to the strengths of the Silver Arrows.

“Silverstone is a sensational track and the sweeping corners demand a lot from the drivers and the car. We’ve had some of our best performances this year on tracks with a wide range of corner speeds, so on paper we should be in relatively good form,” added Wolff.

“But we’ve also had a number of reliability issues that could have easily robbed us of a considerable amount of points, so we know that we need to stay vigilant and perform to the best of our abilities if we want to be in the fight this weekend.”

Hoping to dash home hopes will be Austrian Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen, the Dutchman a formidable foe with his tail up.

“I’m looking forward to Silverstone, especially after our win in Austria last weekend,” said Verstappen. “It was a really special moment for everyone in the Team and for Honda – all the hard work is beginning to pay off.

“I really enjoy Silverstone Circuit because of the high-speed corners, Becketts and Maggots being my favourite, and it’s great fun to drive. I also know it pretty well after racing there in F3 before F1. I love to see all the British fans camping and supporting us in the grandstands.

“There is always a big turnout and they are definitely some of the most passionate F1 fans in the world. Because our factory is just down the road it is another home race for the Team so I hope we can continue our progress and put on a great show for everyone on Sunday. A lot of great, fast corners is what we like and I can’t imagine the calendar without the British Grand Prix.”

The British Grand Prix is also a home race for Acronis partner team SportPesa Racing Point, and the team’s aptly named Acronis Mission Control Centre is based at Silverstone.

“Silverstone is one of the most important weekends of the year for this team,” said team principal Otmar Szafnauer. “It’s our home race and we are busy on and off the track. With our proximity to the circuit, we make a big effort to bring as many staff to the track as possible and we invite them and their families to a barbeque at the factory on Saturday. It’s the one race where the whole company can come together and experience the race weekend in one location. In that sense we are in a unique position compared to the other teams.”

Racing Point is not the only British team that home supporters will be flying their flags for, as the iconic Williams team and driver George Russell will be receiving plenty of support from the crowd.

“I am really looking forward to Silverstone as it will be my first home Grand Prix,” said Russell. “I have a lot of good memories of Silverstone and it is my favourite circuit on the calendar. So, all in all, it should be a great weekend.”

It will be an extra special race for Williams, as this year marks Sir Frank Williams’ 50th anniversary as a Formula One team principal and team owner.

“We are looking forward to our home race, facing the challenges of this iconic circuit and continuing our progress,” added Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer. “This will be George’s first experience of a home Formula One race and the power of the local British crowd, and a great opportunity for him to understand how to harness this support.

“With this race so close to our base, we also welcome the fact that Sir Frank will be able to join us over the weekend as we celebrate his 50th anniversary as a Formula One Team Principal.”

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.