Formula 1 | British Grand Prix 2017 Preview
By James Malleson
• The tenth race of the season is hosted on Hamilton’s home soil.
• The midway mark could prove crucial in determining the championship winner
SILVERSTONE, GREAT BRITAIN – Lewis Hamilton races in his home country and is looking for a record-equalling fifth win, as he and Sebastian Vettel look to battle once again.
Lewis Hamilton’s Past Record
With four British titles to his name, it is certainly a home advantage if you are Lewis Hamilton.
His first home win came in 2008 whilst racing for McLaren. Hamilton got off to an excellent start, going past the three front-runners to take the lead at the first corner. However, Heikki Kovalainen managed to get the better of Hamilton, brushing his tyres to retake the lead. On lap five the Brit retook the lead from Kovalainen and extended his lead by lap ten, to six seconds. Soon after Hamilton pitted for a change of tyres, and came out just in front of Kimi Raikkonen. The Brit was in cruise control by now and eventually crossed the finish line in first place ahead of Nick Heidfeld.
Last year, Hamilton started the race from pole position as the race started with the drivers’ riding behind the safety car. This is where Hamilton and Nico Rosberg decided to change tyres. A few laps later, the Brit was now leading the race by five seconds. After a series of short interruptions to Hamilton’s prospects, he eventually crossed the finish line first, ahead of Rosberg.
He will be favourite to win for the fifth time in his home country, however, Sebastian Vettel may have something to say about that.
Sebastian Vettel’s Past Record
Vettel’s record is not quite as impressive compared to Hamilton but nevertheless is still credible. Here, he has one title to his name.
That solitary win came in 2009 when the German was racing for Red Bull. Vettel started in pole position and got off to a good start driving away from his nearest rivals. The four-time championship winner continued his dominance setting fastest lap after fastest lap. He eventually crossed the finish line 15.1 seconds ahead of nearest rival Mark Webber.
However, he didn’t fare as well last year crossing the line in ninth position. The race started with a safety car due to wet conditions meant that Vettel hung around the 11th position, which is the position he qualified in. By lap 15 Vettel made a change to slick tyres and was the first driver to do so. On lap 29 Vettel made an overtake on Daniil Kvyat to move into ninth position which is where he stayed for the remainder of the race but not without a five-second penalty for a disallowed overtake which was added to his eventual finishing time.
Vettel will be hoping for an improvement this time around and would be richly needed if he is to continue his dominance at the top of the leadership standings.
Plenty of Space to Race
The one thing the track known as Silverstone has in abundance is space. Space to maneuver and space to overtake.
There is plenty of run-off making overtaking quite effective and easy to do compared with other tracks. There is space especially when it comes to the DRS zones. The first DRS zone is between Turns Five and Six, and coupled with the good run-off should allow for a number of overtakes. The second DRS zone is between Turns 14 and 15.
The other thing the track has is good traction. This is because the asphalt is old and the cornering speeds are mostly high so this allows for good grip. There are also a number of fast corners on this track, which should aid when it comes to overtaking your opponents, even at corners where you are less likely to overtake compared with a straight.
The other factor this circuit has in abundance is corners. It has 18 of them in total, and if drivers are successful they will need to navigate these with control.
The first two Turns are gentle and require less maneuverability, yet at Turn Three comes a sharp bend which could prove tricky, followed by another sharp bend at Turn Four. A hairpin bend follows at Turn Seven before a series of faster corners. The track then begins to meander at Turn 11 and weaves causing drivers to slow down, The track finishes with sharp turns at 15, 16 and 17.
Of course, it is not just the corners which could prove crucial in deciding the outcome of the race. There is also the matter of the straights to contend with in order to avoid being overtaken. These appear sprinkled around the course and usually occur after sharp hairpin bend turns.
Last Race at Silverstone?
Silverstone has been home to the race every year since 1987, but that streak could be about to end, on a circuit which has provided many classic races and historic moments.
Silverstone’s owner has activated the break clause to cease hosting the race after the year 2019. The BRDC which owns the track says it cannot afford contunue toi afford to host the race unless a new deal is agreed. Losses were inflcited in previous years and that has meant they can no longer afford to host the race.
However, this does not necessarily mean that it won’t host a race in 2020, it is just that it looks doubtful especially as there is no government backing available. So will there still be a British Grand Prix? Possibly, as the Mayor of London is interested in hosting a Grand Prix in the capital, London, as a street circuit.
Time will tell, but at the moment it looks like races at Silverstone ae in jeopardy, and the famous circuit could soon be history.
The British Grand Prix starts on July 16th at 13:00 BST
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