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As one of the jewels in any British sporting summer, the British Grand Prix rolls into view again this weekend – albeit slighter later in the calendar than the norm – despite 2020’s unprecedented climate.
With Silverstone set for its’ usual resplendent landscape of pomp and pageantry, the empty stands surrounding the Northamptonshire circuit however will give the aura of the surreal this weekend, more than perhaps any other on the F1 rota.
Much like with Austria’s Red Bull Ring for the opening two Rounds of the season, Silverstone takes its’ own turn to host back-t0-back race across the coming two weeks and and with half the paddock either British-owned or based, this weekend’s 69th running of the British GP will feel more momentous than most that have come before.
Ahead of next weekend’s Anniversary 70th running also, this weekend at Silverstone is a real homecoming for F1, for more than one reason.
Hamilton on charge?
Not least for Lewis Hamilton who arrives on home soil with a five-point World Drivers’ Championship advantage over teammate Valtteri Bottas. Indeed, after successive wins in Styria and a fortnight ago at the Hungaoring, Mercedes have continued their early-season dominance with three wins in three.
The Stevenage driver has won on five of six occasions on his trips to Silverstone, but the track is a rare and possible chink in the armour for Mercedes due to the fluctuating conditions that abound in this particular corner of the world.
With that said, Mercedes look to still be relative streets apart of both Red Bull and Ferrari’s continuing chemistry issues and should Hamilton claim his sixth British GP win on Sunday, Hamilton will be tough to stop in his goal of a seventh world title.
McLaren out to impress
As one Briton arrives with history on his rather illustrious side, another will have quiet aspirations of grabbing his second dose of the limelight in Lando Norris, as will his Woking-based team McLaren.
The British manufacturer have until this term suffered frustrating times, however with the rise of Norris and Carlos Sainz as a unit – the latter until next year at least – McLaren have enjoyed a more than creditable start to the campaign, not least a brace of top-ten finishes in two of the opening three races.
For Norris in particular, the next fortnight is the perfect platform for the burgeoning Bristolian to further showcase his talents in what will be just his second F1 outing at Silverstone, with British eyes watching on from afar.
Since his maiden podium in Austria, the 20-year-old has looked to consolidate his place in the 3rd-10th place scrap lower down the field. Finishing 11th last year in his inaugural home GP after qualifying eighth would have been a blow last July, but Norris will see British GP take two as his latest chance to shine.
Perez positive test
Racing Point were also set to roll into the British GP with hopes of strong back-to-back weekends, but after the news of Sergio Perez testing positive for coronavirus, the Silverstone-based manufacturer will be without the Mexican driver as he self-isolates.
As F1.com broke the story on Thursday evening, his teamed released a statement that Perez was ‘physically well and in good spirits’:
“Sergio is physically well and in good spirits, but he will continue to self-isolate under the guidelines of the relevant public health authorities, with safety the ultimate priority for the team and the sport.
The entire team wishes Sergio well and looks forward to welcoming him back into the cockpit of the RP20 soon. Our intention is to race two cars on Sunday. We will communicate the next steps for our British Grand Prix weekend in due course.”
Having impressed for the ‘Pink Mercedes’ during the opening throes of 2020, Perez sits sixth in the drivers’ standings, and his absence is an undoubted blow for RP, who will have been keen to perform on their home track.
As they state however, the intention is to race two cars this weekend and though his immediate replacement is yet to be determined, rumours have been surfacing on social media that test drivers Stoffel Vandoorne or his compatriot Esteban Gutierrez could be drafted in.
As Perez recuperates meanwhile, as the first driver to test positive for COVID-19 is a gentle reminder that whilst the F1 show must go on, 2020’s dominant narrative continues in the background and is not set to disappear from the sporting arena any time soon.
The 2020 British Grand Prix takes place this weekend at Silverstone, with the race on Sunday, 14:10 UK time.
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