Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2022

Will Mercedes come good for their home duo? Five British GP talking points

2022 British Grand Prix

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Will Silverstone bring out the best of Mercedes? Can Charles Leclerc stop the rot in the title fight?

Here are this weekend’s talking points as Formula 1 heads to Silverstone.

Can Mercedes finally make it a three-way fight?

Mercedes made a clear step forward with the upgrade the team introduced at the Spanish Grand Prix last month. But the W13 clearly favours smoother circuits, and the temporary tracks which followed largely weren’t kind to them.

The return to more conventional tracks this weekend is one of several stars which could be about to align in their favour. The team has said it intended to conclude its radical set-up experiments between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell’s cars after the last round, and further updates are expected this weekend which may unlock more from their troubled chassis.

Over four months since the W13 turned its first laps at this very track, could we finally see something closer to the pre-season level of performance which was expected from the reigning constructors’ champions? They certainly shouldn’t be short of support this weekend, as it’s the home race for both their drivers.

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Upgrades bonanza?

(L to R): Guanyu Zhou, Alfa Romeo; Lance Stroll, Aston Martin; Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2022
Aston aim to move up the midfield with new updates
The British Grand Prix marks a timely opportunity for teams to bring new bits to their cars. While Monaco, Azerbaijan and Canada largely required circuit-specific changes, Silverstone is typical of several circuits which will follow.

There are rumours of a significant step coming from Red Bull. Aston Martin and Alpine have already indicated they will have new kit on their cars. But others, notably McLaren and Haas, have said they won’t have any major updates this weekend.

We could therefore be set for a shake-up in the competitive order of the midfield at least this weekend.

Leclerc must stop the rot

Charles Leclerc’s season is unravelling at an alarming pace for the Ferrari driver. In the last six races he has given away 95 points to the championship leader, largely due to poor reliability on his car.

If he is to stay in contention for the championship he badly needs to check Max Verstappen’s progress this weekend. Avenging the win he lost in the dying laps of last year’s race to Lewis Hamilton, having led most of the afternoon, would be a good starting point.

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Can Williams snag a point at home?

Alexander Albon, Williams, Miami International Autodrome, 2022
Williams haven’t taken a point since Miami
Russell was cheered to the echo as he dragged his Williams FW43B into the final round of qualifying on Friday last year, snagging an improbable eighth on the grid alongside Carlos Sainz Jnr’s Ferrari. Could his replacement Alexander Albon pull off a similar feat this year?

It seems a tall order, though the FW44 has shown enough glimpses of pace for Q2 to be a possibility. The car performs rather better over a race stint though, and a few points would be hugely welcome for the team which is looking increasingly stranded at the bottom of the championship table.

Will anyone miss the sprint race?

Formula 1 introduced its divisive sprint race format at the British Grand Prix last year. But this year Silverstone’s event has switched back to the regular race weekend routine: practice on Friday, qualifying on Saturday, race on Sunday.

Will disappointed spectators clamour for a return to last season’s schedule? Or will the loss of Saturday’s extra race prompt no more than indifference from the fans? If so, it would be further proof F1’s latest gimmick does not measure up to the hype.

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Are you going to the British Grand Prix?

If you’re heading to Silverstone for this weekend’s race, we want to hear from you:

Who do you think will be the team to beat in the British Grand Prix? Have your say below.

And don’t forget to enter your predictions for this weekend’s race. You can edit your predictions until the start of qualifying:

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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24 comments on “Will Mercedes come good for their home duo? Five British GP talking points”

  1. Can Mercedes finally make it a three-way fight? – Doubtful.
    Upgrades bonanza? – Maybe, although teams should be careful in this regard with budget cap.
    Leclerc must stop the rot – Indeed & the next four races will be critical for his championship hopes.
    Can Williams snag a point at home? – Not on pure pace, but in some scenarios, yes.
    Will anyone miss the sprint race? – I doubt & probably pretty indifferent overall.

  2. In answer to the question regarding whether people will miss the sprint race, the fact no one’s even thought about it until you asked somewhat implies the answer.

    1. I must admit it, I am one of those people. So true.

    2. Not true, I thought about it as soon as I saw it was silverstone, I mean, it’s not easy to forget last year’s event, with hamilton getting a rare pole at home for that moment in 2021, verstappen getting ahead of him in the sprint race and showing he had enough pace to win the race and then the infamous crash in the race, as far as I seem they seem to be trying different races every time for sprints, which is a good thing.

  3. Can Mercedes finally make it a three-way fight? – Without any bouncing issues this weekend due to the smooth surface, they’ll return to their Spain pace. I’m not sure if they’ll have enough to right the Red Bulls and Ferraris on pace yet but there will at least be a significant gap between them and the 4th best team. They’ll certainly have enough pace to keep Perez and Sainz very busy.

    Upgrades bonanza? – It sounds like quite a few teams are targeting this race for updates. I don’t think it’ll be anything spectacular but we’ll see a good selection of different updates. The Red Bull update could be interesting as they really seem to understand their car so can potentially push things a bit further with less risk of it not working.

    Leclerc must stop the rot – In reality, he drove really well in Baku and then drove well again in Canada but got caught in a few DRS trains before making is way back up to the front. He just needs to keep doing exactly what he’s been doing and hope his car holds out.

    Can Williams snag a point at home? – Unlikely… Slow car, 1 competent driver, lots of teams bring upgrades along and a track where safetycars are unlikely. If they get on the podium, it’s going to have to be on pace and they don’t have much.

    Will anyone miss the sprint race? – Haha. I guess some of the DTS crowd might but the overwhelming majority won’t.

    1. Agree about leclerc, not saying I don’t agree with the rest but this is the glaring point for me: leclerc did nothing wrong except imola, and that had a minor impact, he’s just been unlucky, or in any case even if we call it team incompetence at monaco that’s still out of his control.

  4. Ferrari might win one or even two races by the end of summer. But that won’t change anything. They lost 95 points in 6 races. With this “losing pace”, they will be at least 200 points behind Verstappen by the end of the season.
    Mercedes will probably get a podium in Silverstone.
    Red Bull bringing so many updates – I think they might be spending way more than $145 mln. What happens if they spend $250-300 mln this year and win the championship? Another scandal?

    1. Sviat, the penalties that can be imposed vary depending on the nature and scale of the breach.

      If the financial breach is less than 5%, then the FIA “may impose a financial penalty and/or any minor sporting penalties”, which are as follows:
      – Public reprimand
      – Financial penalty (to be determined on a case by case basis)
      – Preventing the team from participating in practice sessions at one or more races (though the team can still participate in the race)
      – Reducing the budget cap for the team in question for the following year
      – Reducing the number of hours of on track and CFD testing that the team can carry out the following year
      – Deduction of points in the World Constructors Championship
      – Deduction of points in the World Drivers Championship

      If the team has overspent by more than 5%, the regulations state that the team will have points deducted from their World Constructors Championship total. The FIA can then impose any of the above penalties, except for a reprimand, as well as having the option of imposing the following punishments:
      – Preventing the team from participating in one or more races
      – Disqualification from the championship

      The FIA would also have the option to impose stricter monitoring of any spending activities by the team if they were found to have breached the financial regulations.

      If, in your situation, Red Bull were to spend to the levels that you are suggesting – i.e. a breach of 50 – 100% – then the FIA would probably have to impose a harsh penalty to make other teams take the cap seriously. If the FIA only imposed a weak penalty for such a major breach, it would likely risk the collapse of the current system if teams felt they could get away with a gross breach of the cap.

      What might be more contentious is the situation that we might end up in, which is where more than one team might overshoot on the budget cap, but one may exceed it by a larger margin than others (i.e. a few teams go over by a bit but stay within the 5% limit, whilst another overshoots by more than 5%). That is more likely to raise arguments over how far teams are pushing the limits, and the FIA may find it harder to impose the harsher penalties if other teams also overspent.

      The other aspect is how willing the FIA might be to deduct points from the WDC contenders – the FIA probably would face heavy pressure from the commercial rights holder to avoid penalising a driver, given there would probably be a backlash if the WDC was decided by legal action.

      However, imposing a penalty on just the team would also likely not sit well with a number of people either – the argument would be that, if the team is not allowed to benefit from breaching the rules, then why should the driver not also face the same punishment?

      1. It’s very interesting, if they don’t impose a serious penalty teams could indeed overshoot by 50%!

  5. Leclerc has a lot to contend with – not just Max in a very fast Red Bull, but also a car that seems riddled with reliability issues, a team that seemingly can’t figure out basic strategy calls and a driver on the other side of the garage who is still vying for the same position within the team dynamic and is unlikely to be as much help as Perez is to Max when there is a make-or-break call to be made…

    I really hope he can pull a win out here, just to keep some fire in the championship fight, but the past 5-6 races have really put a lot negative pressure on the entire red squad.

    McLaren not bringing updates is a bit sad – they could well be fighting with Alpine and even capitalizing on Mercedes issues to have a crack at 3rd in the WCC. If teams like Alpha Tuari, Aston Martin and Alpha Romeo (too many teams beginning with A!) make some gains over the next couple of races, they could well see themselves fighting with the Williams and HAAS in Q3…

  6. Why would anyone miss the sprint? I was glad to have pretty much forgotten about it until you brought it up!

    I agree with what @petebaldwin writes above about Leclerc – it was not an issue of him driving badly, he was doing what he could to get back to the front in the last races, so he will be doing fine. The bigger worry is with the team and their reliability. The teamwork he can try and influence, but it will be up to the designers, engine testers and builders to see how to make it last the season. I fully expect him to be right at the front, probably on pole and fighting with Max for the win this weekend.

  7. The rumours suggest that RBR will bring a significant upgrade package that will involve the floor, the chassis and the aero. The main target is to reduce weight – one area that RBR are clearly lagging behind Ferrari – which is crucial in the change of directions in Silverstone. Horner has been downplaying the importance of the upgrades for obvious reasons.

    Even if RBR upgrades deliver. Silverstone is a Ferrari track as suggested by their simulations. The lighter cars will have the edge in the rapid change of directions. Silverstone is also not high on fuel either like the previous tracks, the consumption is estimated around 105 kg which will put less stress on the post ignition phase of the Ferrari V6 which caused the failures in both Baku and Spain.

    If Ferrari cannot get their act together and deliver a 1-2 in Silverstone then they would be better off allocating resources to the 2023 car and try to fix what went wrong this year (reliability and operations).

  8. I’m not expecting much from Mercedes – at best they might extend the gap to the rest of the midfield but I don’t see them being much closer to either RBR or Ferrari.

    Not really an upgrade bonanza either – simply not the budget scope for anything amazing – if anyone will show major gains, I’d expect it to be RBR which will be extremely bad news for Ferrari.

    Unfortunately I suspect Charles will be relegated to 3rd or worse for most of the rest of the season. RBR has gotten stronger and Perez is genuinely quick in it, maybe not Max quick but I think, with the supposed upgrade, he’ll have good enough equipment to see off the Ferraris. Ferrari, even if they fix their reliability issues, still haven’t/can’t fix their “teamwork” ones.

    Albon, if he has some luck, might just scrape a point.

    The sprint abomination is where it deserves to be – forgotten.

    1. Would be nice to see a reversed hamilton-leclerc situation from last year, not cause it’s hamilton or cause I want him to be overtaken on the last lap, I wouldn’t even mind a hamilton win in similar circumstances, but more like the underdog keeping the faster car behind, would also be interesting if the one following was verstappen instead.

    2. And I expect merc should be better indeed here, prob not as fast as the top cars but close, like spain.

  9. Its one thing to cure the bounce and upgrade the chassis, the real test will come when Mercedes finally turn up their engine.

    So far the engines performance has been limited by the bouncing problem. We got a taste of the engine’s potential with Hamilton’s drive in Barcelona. Even then their water cooling solution was exposed.

    So yeah, can’t wait to see what the engine is really capable of.

  10. Can Mercedes finally make it a three-way fight? No.

    Upgrades bonanza? I expect so.

    Leclerc must stop the rot. Yes indeed.

    Can Williams snag a point at home? I really, really hope so.

    Will anyone miss the sprint race? Lol, no.

    1. Perhaps alonso, who was the only one making the sprint interesting with his defense on softer tyres last year, and who got a better result than he was supposed to.

  11. Can Mercedes finally make it a three-way fight? – Yes. But not because Mercedes would have found a lot of pace, but because that rubbish Ferrari will either mess up their strategy, or have some reliability issue or Sainz will spin again. The three way fight depends more on Ferrari’s performance than Mercedes.

    Upgrades bonanza? – Yes. Mercedes, Alpine, Ferrari and Red Bull should definitely have some upgrades.

    Leclerc must stop the rot – Of course. But I don’t know if he’ll take the win. Ferrari will drop the ball again somehow. Binotto is probably figuring out how to lose the next race right now.

    Can Williams snag a point at home? – Doubt it. But Albon should finish close to the points. Latifi will finish last or crash out.

    Will anyone miss the sprint race? – Doubt it. Maybe someone who crashed out in qualifying.

    1. Ahah, I can see that about binotto, he’s checking a chart and thinking, mmm, if we send our driver out in traffic we could…

  12. I’m keen to see Alpine and Aston Martin upgrades. The bleus surprised me positively with their form of late. Maybe an imminent podium is on the brew. The greens, though, surprised me negatively. I believe it’s make or break for them now.

    As for the Sprint, LOL, had completely forgotten! Still not gonna waste my time with it.

  13. There’s obviously a lot of eyes on Mercedes this weekend, although I’m not expecting a huge upturn in performance – a move in the right direction will be nice, and I still think that ultimately there’s a lot of speed to be unlocked in that car (perhaps by the end of the season heading into next year).

    As for Red Bull – their car is looking fab and if this is a huge update then that doesn’t necessarily mean they are planning on busting their budget, they just need to make sure they’re still at the top of the timesheets and have a very drivable car.

    I’m very intrigued by the Alpine, they seem like the odd-one out in F1 and the most difficult to gauge in terms of pace. They are the only team with a Renault PU, so you can’t benchmark their car with others quite so easily. It could be that they have a beast of a power unit but a cow of a chassis, or the other way round. Obviously that’s that exaggerating for the sake of the point, but they really are a dark horse and the team perhaps most capable of delivering a surprise.

    And yeah, I didn’t realise the sprint had gone either! Can’t say I’ll miss it!

  14. Expecting the front 2 to stretch their legs further. Pretty sure everyone will be bringing some form of update. Leclerc is driving ok, but not convinced yet if he is a match for Max…

    Another suck it and see weekend ahead

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