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British GP Preview: Hamilton in need of Silverstone surge

Written by  Jul 12, 2017

Fresh from Valtteri Bottas securing his second Formula 1 win Austria, the sport swaps Spielberg for the place where it all began 67 years ago, Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix.

Well at least until 2019 anyway after the news on Tuesday the famous circuit has activated a break clause in its contract, meaning there could just be three more races left in the Northamptonshire countryside.

That's for another day, however, as negotiations will no doubt begin to save the British Grand Prix once again, but instead let's focus on this weekend and another crucial return home for three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.

After his commanding victory in Canada at the beginning of June, it appeared the momentum was about to swing firmly in the man from Stevenage's favour, but a headrest issue in Baku and a grid penalty at the Red Bull Ring have been unwanted obstacles that have denied Hamilton from maximising the pace he showed both weekends.

As a result, the 32-year-old heads to a venue he has won at each of the last three years and four times in total in need of another good result to get his championship back on track.

The gap between himself and likely pantomime villain this weekend Sebastian Vettel currently stands at 20 points with an increasing threat from Mercedes team-mate Bottas, who is now just 15 behind the Briton.

Considering where the advantage may lie is hard to tell with the downforce-dependent layout at Silverstone much different to any circuit raced at since Spain. There it was Mercedes who had the edge thanks to an upgrade but aerodynamics has usually been Ferrari's strong suit so it will be interesting to see if that is the case again.

Another likely factor will be tyres as Pirelli brings the supersoft rubber for the first time. The Italian supplier is predicting a two-stop race and the grip differential between the compounds is likely to be much bigger than it was in Austria.

Ferrari and Mercedes have taken slightly different routes too, with the Italian team more aggressive with three more sets of the fastest compound than their British-based German rival.

At their second home race in a week, Red Bull is also likely to be much more competitive with the RB13 seemingly now more than a match for the top two at least from a chassis perspective. Daniel Ricciardo is on a roll with five straight podiums but in stark contrast his team-mate Max Verstappen has had that many retirements in the last seven races. Add a little British summer weather into the mix and a thrilling three-team battle could well be on the cards.

The midfield battle also took an interesting twist in Austria with Haas emerging as the leading team thanks to a sixth place finish for Romain Grosjean as well as team-mate Kevin Magnussen potentially looking even faster before two freak failures on the Saturday and Sunday.

The worry for the American team and others who wish to challenge current fourth-placed Force India is the Silverstone-based team are bringing a major updates to their home race. That means they could well return to potentially annoying Red Bull ahead rather than being in reach of those behind.

One team potentially at risk from those behind is Williams as the high-speed corners typically don't suit their car. Add to that, how they had problems optimising the upgrades introduced in Spielberg and Haas, Toro Rosso, McLaren and Renault could well fancy their chances of challenging for the tail end of the top 10.

Certainly McLaren, after a miserable year, will hope to give their legion of fans something to cheer. Recent improvements could offer the opportunity to do just that providing no grid penalties are required and reliability holds.

Carlos Sainz too will likely be under the spotlight after his comments in Austria, while Jolyon Palmer will look to end his points drought in front of his home crowd.

A crowd that is full of knowledge, passion and likely a little gamesmanship in their desire to see another home win, all ingredients that make the British Grand Prix so special and why it needs to be a mainstay now and forever.

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