Valtteri Bottas moved himself into the championship picture by winning in Austria last time but it is home favourite Lewis Hamilton who should be fancied to take victory at this weekend’s British Grand Prix (Race: Sunday, 13:00 BST, live on Channel 4 / Sky Sports F1).
Bottas made a perfectly timed start to get away from pole position and lead throughout in a strong performance that saw him take his second victory of the season for Mercedes.
Sebastian Vettel continues to lead the championship following a second-place finish for Ferrari, but he has now gone three races without victory and has been fortunate not to see his primary challenger Lewis Hamilton make greater inroads into his advantage in recent races.
Hamilton was relegated to eighth on the grid by a five-place penalty for a gearbox change early last weekend and he was only able to recover to fourth on race day. A couple of laps of excellent defensive driving from Daniel Ricciardo saw the Red Bull driver hang onto the final podium place for his fifth consecutive top-three finish.
It was a frustrating weekend for Hamilton and one that he will be keen to bounce back from on home soil at an event where he has emerged victorious in each of the last three seasons and four times overall. Mercedes have won each of the last four British Grand Prix, while Mercedes-powered cars have won nine of the last 18 – four more than any other engine provider.
In recent races, the performance tide has started to turn in Mercedes’ favour. They now lead the Constructors’ Championship after outscoring Ferrari in four of the last five races, while their drivers have scored four victories to Ferrari’s one over the course of the last six. Everything seems to point to a victory for Mercedes and Hamilton on Sunday.
Ferrari employed Kimi Raikkonen as a spoiler in Austria, charged with first holding up Hamilton and later Bottas, and it resulted in him only coming in fifth himself. He was followed home by Romain Grosjean, who drove a very solid race to take sixth for Haas.
Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon secured Force India’s seventh double points finish of the season by coming home seventh and eighth. It has been a strong year for the team, who currently look on course to replicate their fourth-placed finish in last season’s standings.
Force India can again be expected to perform well this weekend at a circuit that is located just across the road from their headquarters. They finished sixth and seventh at last year’s event, with Perez leading home then-teammate Nico Hulkenberg, and seem confident that this year’s car will be similarly suited to the Silverstone circuit.
Pirelli will bring softer tyres to this weekend’s event and degradation is expected to be relatively high during Sunday’s race. That should open up an opportunity for Perez to take advantage of his excellent tyre management skills and secure his fourth top-six finish of the season.
Williams overcame set up problems in practice and qualifying to lock out the final two points-paying positions in Austria, with Felipe Massa coming in ahead of teammate Lance Stroll.
It was a difficult weekend for Toro Rosso, who lost ground to all of the teams around them in the Constructors’ Championship as Carlos Sainz suffered an engine failure and Daniel Kvyat finished three laps down after a troubled race. The team will want to get back on track this weekend at a circuit where they usually show solid pace.
Toro Rosso secured a double points finish at Silverstone last year, with Sainz coming home eighth. The Spanish driver also qualified inside the top 10 in 2015, only to retire from the race. Another double points finish was achieved in 2014, while Ricciardo led them to an eighth-place finish in 2013.
All of the drivers seem to be looking forward to the challenge of throwing this season’s faster cars into the high-speed corners of the Northamptonshire track. Achieving a well-balanced set up will give them confidence and prove the key to a good weekend. Toro Rosso are usually quite good in this regard and will therefore be aiming for points for Sunday.
Sainz has comfortably outscored his teammate Kyvat this season and has finished in the points in each of the six races he has finished to date. Another top-10 finish is within his reach at Silverstone.