Sebastian Vettel is in the championship lead, Valtteri Bottas is on a roll, so where better for Lewis Hamilton to kick start his title ambitions than Silverstone for the British Grand Prix this weekend.
A venue where come rain or shine Lewis has always delivered. We look at the form of the top contenders at Silverstone over the years.
Lewis Hamilton – Starts 10, Pole Positions 4, Wins 4
Ever since he took pole position here in 2007 in his first British Grand Prix, Lewis has always seemed to rise to the occasion of his home race. Hamilton would finish behind Alonso that day, but since then there is only one other occasion where Lewis has finished behind a team-mate at his home race, and that was in 2013 when Lewis suffered a punctured Pirelli while leading early on. Lewis has shown the composure to win in good or bad conditions, with his first British Grand Prix win in his title winning 2008 season a dominant drive in atrocious conditions that saw him lap everybody up to third placed Barrichello. A few mistakes in qualifying see him actually only head his team-mates by 6-4 in that category over the years, low by Lewis standards, but his determination in the races is never in doubt, as witnessed by his last lap outmuscling of Felipe Massa to defend fourth place in 2011. It would be foolish to bet against Lewis taking his fourth straight British Grand Prix win this weekend to jump start his title campaign.
Valtteri Bottas – Starts 4, Best Grid Position 4th, Best Result 2nd
A wonderful drive to second place from 14th on the grid in 2014 is the highlight at Silverstone for Bottas, who has not enjoyed the best of luck at Silverstone – indeed, in his other 3 races here he has finished behind his team-mate, while splitting intra team qualifying 2-2. In his rookie season he was edged by Pastor Maldonado, while in 2015 his chances were frustrated after he lost out in qualifying to Felipe Massa, with the faster Bottas unable to get past his team-mate for the lead early on after passing both Mercedes, only for the Williams to slide desperately back down the field as the rain fell. Rain and Williams have not been a good mix, and last years race was a disaster for Bottas, who spun early on and struggled for grip in the damp conditions. He’ll need better luck if he is to keep his surprising championship hopes alive, and will be hoping for a dry race on Sunday!!
Sebastian Vettel – Starts 9, Pole Positions 2, Wins 1
Silverstone is one of those tracks that has just not yielded the result for Seb, who has only managed the one win here, and that coming all the way back in 2009! Indeed Mark Webber (not bad for a number 2 driver), notched up 2 wins in his time as Seb’s Red Bull team-mate. Seb has outqualified his team-mates here, only just , leading 5-4, while his race record is abysmal, managing to finish ahead of his team-mate on just 3 out of the 9 races entered. With all the bad luck Seb has endured at Silverstone (being nudged off track from pole position by his team-mate in 2010, suffering a bad pit stop thanks to a broken jack that cost him the win in 2011, retiring from the lead in 2014 with a gearbox problem) maybe he is due a change of fortune. For those questioning Seb’s ability to race as opposed to just winning from the front, it’s worth having a look at the great battle between Seb and Fernando Alonso from the 2014 season – a top notch battle (best viewed without listing to team radio)!
Kimi Raikkonen – Starts 14, Pole Positions 1, Wins 1
Kimi comes into the weekend badly in need of a result, and Silverstone is a track that he knows well. Over 14 races here Kimi has a great record, out-qualifying his teammates 12-2 (including a healthy 2-0 performance for Ferrari against Sebastian Vettel), and has been the lead car home for his team 9 times. He’s managed one win (in his title winning 2007 season with Ferrari), and also taken the one pole position (back in the days of one lap qualifying for McLaren in 2004). Things have not always gone right here for Kimi, a poor strategy call from Ferrari in the wet race in 2008 costing him dear. A grid penalty for an engine change in 2005 likely cost him the chance for the win, with Juan Pablo Montoya taking the victory in the second McLaren despite having been outqualified by Kimi. Oh and not to forget his disastrous race start in 2014, when he kept his foot in after running wide on the opening lap, hitting a bump and smashing across the track, bringing out the red flags. He’ll need to avoid a race like that this weekend as the pressure from Ferrari mounts.
Daniel Ricciardo – Starts 6, Best Grid Position 4th , Best Result 3rd
The man on the podium hot streak, Ricciardo made his F1 debut here for HRT back in 2011, but he has not looked particularly impressive around Silverstone. He’s been outqualified by his team-mate in each of the last 3 races (2-4 record in total), and in his only podium finish here, he benefitted from a better strategy to leap-frog his Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel. In F1, there are no results without an element of luck, and Ricciardo to his credit has being doing everything he can to take advantage of the fortune that has come his way recently. He will need to dig deep if he is to be able to continue his hot streak, especially given the performance of his team-mate here last year….
Max Verstappen – Starts 2, Best Grid Position 3rd, Best Result 2nd
Last but not least, there is Max Verstappen to consider. Cruelly denied results by his Red Bulls woeful reliability, if there is one driver on the grid (aside from Fernando Alonso) that deserves a chance to show his talent its Max, who has continued to look the part only to be let down by his car. It may be a small sample size but who cares, if it rains in Silverstone, the only thing that can stop Max is the reliability of his Red Bull. This weekend he returns to the scene of another amazing performance from last year, where he comprehensively outqualified team-mate Ricciardo, before putting in a stunning race display, passing Rosberg and putting the pressure on Hamilton in the wet early stages of last year’s race, before eventually dropping off the pace as the weakness of the Red Bull was exposed on a drying track. For the record Max was outqualified here by Toro Rosso teammate Carlos Sainz in 2015 in a race where neither car saw the chequered flag.