As Red Bull revel in a sixth-straight race win from a fortnight ago in Canada, not only does Max Verstappen hold a 46-point advantage over teammate Sergio Perez, but their team cushion over Ferrari has now stretched to a wider 76 points margin.
With a trip to Austria to come next weekend, Christian Horner will be keen to see their momentum held but despite their current dominance, the British GP looks set to be one of Red Bull’s more difficult weekends this year.
Ferrari to lead assault
For Ferrari, the excitement of the early part of the season has now been heavily doused with reality, having seen their rivals disappear onto the horizon – for now at least.
The picture for Mattia Binotto and his team though, is not quite as gloomy as the Northamptonshire skies have been during the past few days.
Indeed, despite the wins not coming of late, Scuderia have proved to have the pace to match Red Bull, as Carlos Sainz demonstrated having the quickest car in Canada.
In the case of Charles Leclerc meanwhile, the Monegasque who made such a dominant start to the campaign will have a brand new power unit to fall back on at Silverstone and will be confident of better fortunes after enforced retirements in half his last four races.
As the season leaves behind a run of street circuits and enters a summer stretch of pure race tracks, it should also be noted that Leclerc came home runner-up behind Hamilton in last season’s Silverstone thriller and before Montreal was on pole in Baku, Monte Carlo and Barcelona, with chances to win on all three stops.
Having seen not only his lead evaporate but Perez leapfrog him into the second spot in the standings – and with Ferrari now a sizeable gap of points behind Red Bull – Silverstone might just be a platform to build on for the Prancing Horse.
Mercedes will ‘grind away’ at Silverstone
F1’s pecking order has been drastically shaken up this season which for Mercedes, has been an uncomfortable process. But the signs of change are appearing.
Not only have the results started to improve as a team collective, in the last three races alone Lewis Hamilton has gone from P8 in Monaco, up to P4 in Baku and last time out grabbed his second podium of the campaign with third.
His paddock mate George Russell is rising to the challenge admirably into the bargain, and after following his compatriot home in Quebec is now the only driver this season to retain his status as having finished P5 or better in every race so far. At Silverstone this weekend, the picture could improve further.
Not only is Silverstone one of the fastest tracks on the calendar but amongst the flattest in terrain. Throw a decent mix of high-speed corners, also with less car turbulence than most other tracks also, and Mercedes should find themselves suited down to the ground. Literally.
With expected upgrades to be utilised also, Team boss Toto Wolff is in predictably bullish mood and has even talked up their chances of taking the chequered flag on Sunday.
As he told F1.com, however, Mercedes will have to dig in to get the performance required.
“Silverstone was good to us in the past and the circuit is smoother than the last three ones but it’s not Barcelona, so now we should manage our own expectations and really grind away, look at the data and come up with some sensible solutions, not just for Silverstone but going forward.
“We’ve scored how many – four, five podiums this year… We’ve seen glimpses of performance that we have but it’s far away from our own expectations of ourselves.”
Hamilton driven by Piquet controversy
Lewis Hamilton then, finally seems to be getting to grips with his troublesome car after a run of improved results. However, as the 37-year-old returns to compete in his 16th home GP, this week’s build up has been dominated by events off the track.
As hopes for a strong weekend for Mercedes grow, Hamilton can rely on partisan support this weekend and with no less than eight wins at Silverstone during his career, the Stevenage driver is unbeaten in Northamptonshire since 2019. Indeed the only man to beat him since 2014 is Sebastian Vettel.
The events of the past week will only spur Hamilton on home soil and with just a P3 best to show on opening day in Bahrain and last time out in Canada, the Briton will be charging this weekend.
If indications from FP1 were anything to go by – clocking the second fastest time behind Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton could indeed be poised for another vintage Silverstone show.
McLaren look to home support
In amongst the estimated throng of thousands this weekend, there will of course also be strong support for McLaren, who now look to be in a pitched battle with Alpine for fourth spot this term.
The story of 2022 so far for the Woking manufacturer has been one of relative woe after the exploits of last season, and only Lando Norris’ P3 at Imola has masked their current issues.
Whilst McLaren have mustered just eight points finishes this term, Alpine continue to make strides with four more top 10 placings, as Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon continue to dove-tail adroitly.
Capped by Alonso’s superb front row qualification in Canada, the veteran Spaniard was unable to challenge for a first F1 podium finish since Hungary 2014, but his P9 coupled with Ocon’s P6 saw a points double for the third time in four races.
So could McLaren turn the tables this weekend? The goodwill will no doubt be there, but does the AMG M13 have the performance?
That remains to be seen.
The Formula 1 Lenovo British Grand Prix 2022 takes place at Silverstone this weekend.
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