After the triple-header in France and Austria, a two-week break before the British Grand Prix has given teams a chance to regroup and reset.
With only two races to go until the summer break, Mercedes face a crucial test of their competitiveness.
Mercedes’ upgrade promise
This package of upgrades represents the team’s latest attempt to shrink their growing deficit to Red Bull. If they can find the pace around Silverstone to challenge for the win again, then the title fight may stay alive into the second half of the 2021 season.
While it’s far too early to start talking about ‘must-win’ races, a continuation of Red Bull’s supremacy this weekend will bode badly indeed for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes’ hopes of retaining their crowns.
Will Norris get in among the title contenders?
Although Mercedes were quicker on a race fuel load, Norris had out-qualified them and was well within his rights to race them as long as he could keep Hamilton behind. It was clear that, once Hamilton had a run at the McLaren, Norris didn’t make life hard for him.
But McLaren may play a decisive role at the front again. Earlier in the race, Sergio Perez was sent tumbling down the order during a battle with Norris when he made a relatively risky, early move and ran wide.
If Norris’ exceptional qualifying performances continue, the top teams face the problem of needing to get ahead of him as early as they can, which his also consistently good race performances mean is not straightforward. Norris came home fifth at last year’s British Grand Prix, in what was a much less competitive car than this year’s McLaren.
F1’s Sprint Qualifying experiment
The big change to this weekend’s race format has already been covered at length elsewhere. Suffice to say, now we will finally get a chance to see whether the addition of an extra short race on Saturday will deliver the entertainment gains the sport hopes to see.
Will one driver become the first to scoop the new maximum of 29 points in a single weekend? Will the Sprint Qualifying race enhance the show or detract from the grand prix? We’ll find out on Saturday.
- Hamilton expects F1’s first Sprint race will be a procession
- Brawn “nervous” but optimistic ahead of F1’s first Sprint race weekend
- How will Formula 1 decide if ‘Sprint’ races are a success? Ross Brawn explains
Pirelli’s Silverstone dilemma
After Lewis Hamilton finished the British Grand Prix on three wheels last year following a blow-out, two other drivers suffered similar failures in the same race, and further punctures occurred later in the year for Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll, changes were made to cars and tyres in a bid to prevent a repeat.
But in Baku Verstappen and Stroll suffered two more failures, prompting the introduction of tighter rules on tyres use.
On top of that, Pirelli tested a more robust tyre construction, allowing teams to run prototype tyres during practice at the Austrian Grand Prix. These were approved for introduction last week, giving Pirelli added confidence they will avoid a repeat of last year’s failures.
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Fans return to Silverstone
As part of the British government’s Events Research Programme, a capacity crowd will be permitted at Silverstone. Campsites, grandstands and general admission areas will be at regular, pre-pandemic capacity, with as many as 140,000 people expected on race day.
There are restrictions in place to minimise the risk of transmitting the virus. Admission to the site is conditional on providing either an NHS lateral flow test showing a negative result – taken within 48 hours prior to entry – or having been double-vaccinated at least two weeks earlier.
PCR testing and PPE will still be enforced for those in the F1 paddock. However, the UK government will no longer mandate mask wearing from July 19th onwards (Monday). Silverstone has said attendees are not required to wear face coverings within the circuit, on-site museum or golf course.
Those attending the grand prix will not be required to socially distance, Silverstone has confirmed. However, if anyone does display symptoms of Covid-19 they are obliged to leave the event, isolate and take a PCR test, with their close contacts also isolating until a negative result is proven.
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How Silverstone has changed since its first F1 race
2021 British Grand Prix
- Who was to blame for Verstappen and Hamilton’s collision at Silverstone?
- Hamilton penalty “harsh” for move within FIA’s overtaking guidance – Allison
- Why Hamilton “wasn’t seen as wholly to blame” for the Verstappen crash
- Sainz convinced he had pace to challenge for podium without British GP setbacks
- F1 will “definitely” consider more points for future sprint qualifying races