After losing ground to title rival Max Verstappen in recent races, Lewis Hamilton could really do with a home victory at this weekend’s British Grand Prix (Race: 3pm Sunday; TV: Live on Channel 4).
Verstappen won all three races of the mid-June to early July triple header, with victory in the French Grand Prix followed by further, comfortable, wins at the Styrian Grand Prix and the Austrian Grand Prix in back-to-back races at the Red Bull Ring.
In that same time, Hamilton finished second twice before struggling to fourth in the Austrian race. Thirty two points now separate the pair of them in the standings ahead of the 10th race of what is still scheduled to be a 23-race season.
The British Grand Prix is the first of three test runs this year of a new weekend format that includes a 100km, 17-lap sprint qualifying race on Saturday that will determine the grid for Sunday’s race as well as providing three, two and one point respectively to the top-three finishers. The grid for that race will be determined by a Friday afternoon qualifying session.
The hope is that the sprint qualifying race will provide additional excitement, but it remains to be seen if that translates to reality. The risk of losing a number of grid positions if an overtake goes wrong might just outweigh the potential advantage of gaining a place or two. But drivers like Kimi Raikkonen and Lance Stroll who often gain positions on the first lap of a race might be able to get themselves further up the grid than normal for Sunday’s race.
Red Bull have clearly had a quicker car than Mercedes over the last few races, but Mercedes feel their package should be better suited to the Silverstone circuit. They will also bring a series of small updates that they hope will help extract some more performance.
Hamilton and Mercedes have certainly been dominant at Silverstone in the hybrid era, with Hamilton winning each of the last two and six of the last seven British Grand Prix. They locked out the front row both last year and in 2019.
After a run of three races without a top-three finish, Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas produced a couple of good podium finishes in the two races in Austria, including a second to Verstappen at the Austrian Grand Prix two weeks ago. If he can get himself into the mix at the front, it would be a great help to Hamilton in terms of limiting Verstappen’s strategy options.
Verstappen is the odds-on favourite, but the available odds on Hamilton look tempting enough to suggest backing him for victory on Sunday.
Lando Norris continued his excellent season by taking a superb third for McLaren in Austria two weeks ago, ahead of Hamilton. Carlos Sainz was fifth for Ferrari, followed by the Red Bull of Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren, the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri and Fernando Alonso’s Alpine.
Ricciardo has played second fiddle to Norris since his summer move from Renault, but has still managed to secure three top-six finishes this year in addition to two seventh-placed finishes, right on the cusp of that mark.
The Australian has often been quick off the line this season, which might help him secure a good grid position for the race in Saturday’s sprint qualifying. He came home fourth for Renault at last year’s British Grand Prix and has a car underneath him that in Norris’ hands has produced nine top-six finishes in 10 races. Backing him to finish in the top six seems a solid play.
Esteban Ocon struggled over the course of the triple header in France and Austria, coming away scoreless after two 14th place finishes and a retirement. That was in contrast to his solid start to the year, in which he scored four times in the first five races, and also to the performances of his Alpine teammate Alonso, who comes into the British Grand Prix on the back of four consecutive points finishes.
Alpine have made a number of changes to Ocon’s car, including the introduction of a new chassis, for this weekend’s event, in the hope that mechanical issues may have been behind his troubles.
There are few places better than Silverstone for the Frenchman to regain some form. He has scored there in each of his previous three races at the circuit, including a strong sixth for Alpine, then named Renault, last year. He can be fancied to get himself back into the points on Sunday.
So the F1 British Grand Prix betting tips that we suggest for this preview are: