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Last weekend saw double disappointment for Mercedes, as both cars were retired and they lost their lead in the constructors’ championship. It will be a big weekend for Lewis Hamilton, who now trails Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ championship and will be hoping to overturn that deficit by making history at his home race. The Brit has taken five victories at the British Grand Prix – he’s won the last four in-a-row – and if he claims victory this weekend, he will be the first man to win the race six times.
For the last three years, Hamilton has also taken pole position along with victory and in 2014 it was team-mate Nico Rosberg who took top spot in qualifying. Out of the nine Grand Prix so far this year, Mercedes and Ferrari have taken four pole positions each and Hamilton will hope he and Mercedes can bounce back from Austria’s disappointment to claim another in his home race.
Silverstone is a power hungry circuit that will suit the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari, whereas for Red Bull, it may be a track their car may struggle on. Usually, the Milton Keynes-based team might be able to rely on the weather to spice up the race. However, unless there is a thunderstorm in the vicinity, it should be a dry race.
It has not been easy for McLaren this season. They have not improved their car in comparison to last year and Fernando Alonso has been their saving grace most of the time scoring 36 out of team’s 44 points. At the beginning of this week, it was announced that Eric Boullier had left his role as racing director.
There have been two new appointments with Gil De Ferran working as sporting director and Andrea Stella is now a performance director. De Ferran and Stella have both worked with Alonso before, the former as the Spaniard’s coach for the Indianapolis 500 and the latter used to be a Ferrari engineer.
McLaren’s chief executive Zak Brown has been very honest about where the team are and where they want to be. Speaking to BBC Sport, Brown said:
“This is going to take some time to fix, so I think we are years away. I don’t know whether that is two or 10 or somewhere in between. We have to be very realistic and honest with ourselves. We have identified an area in which our car this year is weaker than last year.”
Brown added, “Did we have the best chassis last year? No, definitely not. Did we have a better chassis? It would be hard to say definitively yes or no but we know we have less downforce than last year. We had a good finish in the last race relative to where we started but we were uncompetitive and not much has changed since last race so I think everyone needs to not starting having too-high expectations, ourselves included.”
Last year it was announced that 2019 would be the final time that Silverstone would host the British Grand Prix. A clause in the current contract was activated by the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) last year and cost was cited as the reason why the circuit would no longer be able to host the race. However the chairman of the BRDC, John Grant, has stated that he remains hopeful that a deal can be agreed.
The current contract was signed in 2009 and was to run until 2027 until the break clause was activated by the BRDC. The contract included a 5% annual escalation fee, which cost £12m in 2010 and by 2026 that figure could have risen to £27m. Liberty Media, F1’s owners, have said that they want to keep historic races that are integral to the sport such as the Italian, German, Belgian and British Grand Prix.
Speaking to BBC Sport, John Grant said: “F1 is going through changing times, lessons are being learned and there is so much competition that the BRDC are starting to move with the times. There is plenty of time to get this resolved, and it’s more important for us to get to the right answer than an early answer. Although the expression may have been first used in a different context, ‘No deal is better than a bad deal’.”
Silverstone hosts the British Grand Prix with qualifying starting at 14.00 BST on Saturday 7th and the race beginning at 14.10 BST on Sunday 8th July.
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