Three weeks after Sebastian Vettel’s (pictured) victory from pole position in Canada, the Formula One paddock returns to Europe for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone (Race: Sunday, 14:00 BST, live on BBC / Sky Sports).
Vettel’s win saw him extend his lead over Fernando Alonso at the top of the drivers’ championship to 36 points, with Kimi Raikonnen a further eight points removed in third. Lewis Hamilton comes into his home Grand Prix in fourth, 55 points behind Vettel.
Further back, Toro Rosso’s Juan Eric Vergne was the star of the show in Canada, qualifying seventh and finishing in a career-high sixth just two weeks after scoring good points in Monaco. Force India were also impressive, with both drivers finishing in the top ten for a second consecutive Grand Prix.
Silverstone does, however, present very different challenges to the last two circuits, with its series of long, sweeping corners placing a premium on aerodynamic performance and stability. Pirelli will supply their medium and hard compounds this weekend, presumably due to concerns over the amount of load the soft tyres can withstand.
Typically for the British summertime, the Friday and Saturday of last year’s race were a washout. Rain is again expected this Friday, but current forecasts suggest qualifying and the race itself will be dry.
The build up to the race has been dominated by the results of the FIA investigation into the secret Pirelli tyre test Mercedes carried out prior to the Monaco Grand Prix. The team were reprimanded and banned from taking part in the young driver test that follows this weekend’s race – a punishment that has predictably been characterised as too weak by some of their rivals and too severe by Mercedes themselves.
Mercedes and Red Bull are the only two teams to have qualified on pole position so far this season and, barring any interventions from the weather, we would again expect one of their four cars to take first on the grid this weekend.
The Silverstone circuit has similar characteristics to those in Shanghai and Barcelona, circuits at which Mercedes secured pole position in the races earlier this year. But Hamilton and his teammate Nico Rosberg have both failed to perform in qualifying for recent British Grand Prix and it is therefore Red Bull’s Mark Webber who looks the best bet for pole.
Webber has qualified in the top three in each of the last five British Grand Prix, including a pole position in 2011. The Australian has consistently performed well at Silverstone and looks well placed to take his first pole of the year on Saturday.
Force India continued their good qualifying form with an eighth place for Adrian Sutil in Canada and have now had at least one car in the top ten in six of the seven races so far this season. They also have a decent record at Silverstone, securing ninth and 11th on the grid last year and a superb sixth in 2011, courtesy of Paul Di Resta.
Di Resta endured a poor qualifying session in Canada but has qualified ahead of his teammate in four of the seven races this season. He qualified in 10th and 11th in China and Spain respectively and can be fancied to reach the top ten shootout at a similar circuit this weekend.
Ferrari are confident of a good result at Silverstone, having won in both Shanghai and Barcelona earlier this year. Their car is clearly suited to tracks with numerous high speed corners and provided he can qualify in the top four or five, Alonso has to be one of the favourites for Sunday’s race.
Alonso is one of only two drivers in the current paddock to have won more than once at Silverstone (Mark Webber being the other) and as well as his victories in 2006 and 2011 he has also finished second on three occasions, including last year, when he was pipped to the post by Webber in the closing laps.
The Spaniard needs a strong result to peg back Vettel in the drivers’ championship and with Red Bull having struggled with tyre wear at similar circuits this year he can be fancied to secure the full 25 points on offer on Sunday.
Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo will also hope that results in China and Spain are indicative of performance at this weekend’s race, having finished in the top ten in both of them, including an excellent seventh in China.
The young Australian has been overshadowed by Vergne in the last two races and with a Red Bull seat for next year potentially on the line will be determined to close in on his teammate in the standings with a points finish at Silverstone.
F1 British Grand Prix Betting Tips Verdict
- Back Mark Webber to qualify on pole position @ 10/1 at one of various bookmakers, including BetVictor, Ladbrokes or Stan James.
- Bet on Paul Di Resta to reach qualifying session three @ best odds of 10/11 with William Hill.
- Back Fernando Alonso to win the race @ 11/4 at Bet365, Coral or SkyBet.
- Bet on Daniel Ricciardo to secure a points finish @ best odds of 13/8 with Stan James.