RACE DEBRIEF

    So, back to Silverstone we go for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, celebrating, you guessed it, the 70th anniversary of the first ever World Championship Grand Prix held at this circuit. Here are the favourites for pole, victory, podiums and points this weekend.

    Vying for pole

    Let’s not kid ourselves here – Lewis Hamilton’s pole time for the British Grand Prix was a full 1.022s faster than the time that Max Verstappen managed to eke out of his Red Bull RB16 to take third.

    And with no deluges currently on the radar, it seems highly likely we’ll see a repeat of a Mercedes front row lock-out this weekend if qualifying is a simple, straightforward affair.

    READ MORE: The Winners and Losers of the 2020 British Grand Prix

    But don’t write off Valtteri Bottas too quickly and assume that Hamilton has pole in the bag already: Bottas led more sessions and qualifying segments than Hamilton last weekend, even if he did end up three-tenths adrift in Q3, and has pole experience here from 2019. Whether he can fight back or not will be a good test of Bottas’ mettle this weekend.

    Pole positions in the last five races:

    • 2020 (British Grand Prix) – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
    • 2019 – Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
    • 2018 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
    • 2017 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
    • 2016 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

    FAN VIEW: Mercedes again dominate the selections so far on F1 Play after being more than a second quicker than the rest of the field over a single lap last Saturday. Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas account for more than 70% of votes so far, with Max Verstappen next in a very one-sided poll.

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    Can Bottas stop Hamilton taking his eighth Silverstone pole this weekend?

    In the mix for victory

    There’s no deluge on the horizon for Sunday’s race either, and had tyre issues not intervened at the British Grand Prix, the race would have been a fairly stress-free run to the flag for Hamilton, who seemed to be able to manage the gap to Bottas throughout the race without too much hardship.

    And with Bottas still having never managed to win around here – and Hamilton having now managed it seven times – we won’t insult your intelligence by spelling out who’s the favourite to win the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, with Bottas a fairly clear second favourite.

    DATA ANALYSIS: How impressive was Hamilton’s performance on three wheels?

    But while he was never quite close enough to launch an attack on the Mercedes last weekend, Verstappen did well not to let them get more than 10s away for the majority of the race. And if a late Safety Car rears its head – there have now been six in the last two Silverstone races after all – it could be an opening for the Dutchman to do some marauding. Unfortunately, though, it looks like he, or anyone else, will need those sort of exceptional circumstances to arise to be in with a shout against the Mercs.

    Wins in the last five races:

    • 2020 (British Grand Prix) – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
    • 2019 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
    • 2018 – Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
    • 2017 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
    • 2016 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

    FAN VIEW: It’s all Hamilton once again off the back of three consecutive wins, with the reigning world champion polling around 90% of the votes so far on F1 Play to claim an eighth race victory at Silverstone.

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    Verstappen did well to keep the Mercedes fairly honest at the British Grand Prix

    Podium outsiders

    Despite Mercedes looking so strong in 2020, the relative struggles of Ferrari and comparatively punchy performances of teams like McLaren, Renault and Racing Point, have meant that the fight to see which wildcards can find their way onto a podium this year has been fascinating.

    We suggested last week that, other than Red Bull with Max Verstappen, Racing Point would be the team most likely to sneak a podium. But with Sergio Perez unable to drive, and Nico Hulkenberg unable to start the race, Lance Stroll then didn’t seem to be able to summon up any meaningful race pace in the RP20, as he finished a disappointing P9 (which would have been P11 without Bottas and Carlos Sainz’s late tyre failures).

    READ MORE: ‘We were just falling back with no explanation why’ – Stroll baffled by Racing Point's poor Silverstone pace

    That being the case, it seems a safe bet that Ferrari, McLaren and Renault will be sharking around the final podium spot if Verstappen is unable to take it – while Verstappen’s team mate Alex Albon would love to be in amongst that group as well, after a largely unhappy weekend last time out.

    Meanwhile if Racing Point can sort their race pace issues, what could Nico Hulkenberg do if he gets the nod to race again?

    Podiums in the last five races:

    • Mercedes – 8
    • Ferrari – 5
    • Red Bull – 2

    FAN VIEW: With the big three of Hamilton, Bottas and Max Verstappen currently favoured to lock out the podium spots again, it’s a big gap then to the outsiders on F1 Play, currently led by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc – who has outdriven expectations to claim two podiums in the first four races of the season.

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    Will the Hulk get a chance to go for that elusive podium?

    Points potential

    It was at Silverstone last year where Pierre Gasly looked like he was starting to get the hang of driving a Red Bull. It wasn’t enough to save his seat, alas, but in 2020 Gasly was once again in excellent form around the Northamptonshire track, as he took an unexpected seventh place that left him whooping and hollering down his team radio. He should feel confident about a repeat of points this weekend.

    READ MORE: Gasly hails P7 Silverstone drive as ‘one of my best races’

    Elsewhere, George Russell was loving life at the British Grand Prix, his Williams FW43 finally able to get in the mix in the race as well as in qualifying, as he finished P12 after his third straight Q2 appearance. And with a bit of attrition in front of him – and if he avoids silly penalties that relegate him to the back of the grid – Russell’s target for this weekend has to be to get himself up into that top 10 and get off the mark in F1.

    Don’t hold your breath for points for Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi, however. Alfa have now failed to score for the last three races, and endured a torrid British Grand Prix weekend, as they continue in their struggle to re-latch themselves onto the midfield pack.

    Points in the last five races:

    • Mercedes – 182
    • Red Bull – 107
    • Ferrari – 104
    • Renault/Lotus – 43
    • Racing Point/Force India – 29
    • McLaren – 22
    • AlphaTauri/Toro Rosso – 13
    • Alfa Romeo/Sauber – 4
    • Haas – 2
    • Williams – 1

    FAN VIEW: Lando Norris is expected by F1 Play gamers to have another strong Sunday at Silverstone along with McLaren team-mate Carlos Sainz, while Daniel Ricciardo in the Renault is fancied to again go well after his excellent fourth in the British GP. Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll are strongly also fancied for points.