After an Austro-Hungarian jaunt to open the season, F1 returns after a mini-break to what feels like the first natural checkpoint. Teams and drivers have been able to take stock, dive into the data, and see where they stand after three, furious
Now it's time for the teams to introduce upgrades, fine-tune their package, and let the drivers' confidence build.
Many in the paddock will be pleased that it's Silverstone that awaits us this week, close enough to home without feeling as frazzled as they would otherwise. Big shoutout to the F1 and team staff.
Welcome to Round 4 of the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship.
This is the 10th anniversary (11th running) of the new, "Arena" layout, first introduced in 2010. A different challenge compared to Austria and Hungary, a circuit that rewards straight-line speed and aerodynamic efficiency. Sound ominous?
What happened last year?
Quite a lot, actually. The main highlight being the barnstorming battle between Verstappen and Leclerc.
What a great race! Who said F1 is dead..
The LeClerc Verstappen fight is exactly what Formula One needs. Two young talents going toe to toe.
Leclerc and Verstappen, my beautiful baby boys!
Leclerc will make Max regret that Austria move for the rest of his career. LOL.
Race director needs to be fired
What will happen this year? (new - in constructors' order!)
Mercedes' advantage over the rest was been laid bare, and there's an argument to say it could be even bigger this weekend. On paper, a circuit that suits the W11 perfectly. Hamilton starts his 14th British Grand Prix, which I believe puts him 1 behind DC and 3 behind JB in the "Most British Grand Prix raced by a British driver" stakes, and a stellar win record he holds. Bottas will be looking to fight back in the definitely-still-alive championship battle.
Red Bull will have been soul-searching after a Hungarian humbling. The slow-speed instability that has already plagued their season will likely be neutered by the track layout, but on the other hand, the last thing you want is a snap in the middle of Becketts. Also, the first proper test of the Honda PU as they fly down the Hangar Straight on Saturday afternoon. Verstappen will be hoping for better luck than the previous two years, both of which included a hefty trip into the gravel at Vale. Albon resets with a new-but-old race engineer, hoping to kickstart his season. And remember, Gasly was quite close to Max here last year.
McLaren is aiming to widen the Gulf between itself and the chasing midfield pack. After focussing on spare parts for the first trifecta of races, they arrive with a proper upgrade and optimism abound. If the opening gambit is anything to go by, Silverstone should suit them quite well. Lando is the talk of the town and may just steal the spotlight from Lewis. In typical team-mate prankster fashion, Sainz will try and spoil his home-race party!
Racing Point will be glad to see the back of a messy start. A circuit that will also suit them down to the ground. The very definition of a home-race. Perez has fought off a minor illness, but now has to fight off major rumours about his future. Stroll is racing a steady season and has one foot ahead of his more-experienced teammate.
It's difficult to write anything about Ferrari without being hopelessly pessimistic. Pre-race estimations would forecast a result amounting to annihilation this weekend. Now would be the time to surprise. Rumours of a B-Spec car have faded away. Leclerc will be doing very well if he can fight a Red Bull this year. This is the perennial bogey circuit for Vettel.
Renault's pre-season optimism is yet to materialise, only appearing in brief flashes. They will be quickly left behind if they cannot string a weekend together. Ferrari's pain might be Renault's gain in the fight for Q3. Ricciardo has been pedalling reasonably well so far, whereas Ocon desperately needs something to fall in his favour.
Alpha Tauri will be quietly encouraged but loudly frustrated by their inability to convert Austria 2 and Hungary into solid points. A circuit that has been so-so to them over the years. Gasly has shown great speed but has been very unlucky. Kvyat has performed better than I expected.
Alfa Romeo will be relieved to retain the upper-hand in their private Ferrari-customer battle against Haas. A circuit Kimi has always gone well at, he sounds reasonably confident in his pre-race quotes. Giovinazzi, too, has always run well here - whatever the formula - but will be hoping to avoid the same piece of gravel he found himself stranded in last year.
Haas will be licking their wounds after a harsh post-race penalty last time out. However, they seem to be edging away from Alfa in relative pace terms. It was at this race last year when Guenther gave both drivers a piece of his mind after needless first lap contact. Kevin has re-found favour. Grosjean will hope to avoid spinning at pit exit again.
Williams has surprised already, and will look toward familiar Silverstone ground, and halcyon days gone by, in their continuing climb back towards the pack. Upgrades that were successfully trialled in Austria and Hungary will be introduced to both cars. The Mercedes qualifying mode will allow them to fight for Q2 again. Russell needs to shine more on Sundays than Saturdays. Latifi has recovered reasonably well after a difficult start.
Miscellaneous (tyres, strategy, weather, etc.)
The allocation of tyres doesn't change, but the compounds are a step harder compared to the first three races, C1 - C2 - C3. (This will change next week)
The compounds are the same as last year, so expect similar strategies, somewhere between a one and a two-stop.
A dry weekend is expected, with decreasing temperatures through until Sunday. A welcome change after recent downpours.
! SCHEDULE ALERT !
A reminder: FP1 and FP2 start one hour later than usual. This is always the case in Britain, I'm not sure why. The "normal" schedule returns for Saturday.
The Keys to the Weekend (can anyone remember the poster who coined this phrase, was their username SR70? whatever happened to them ...)
Will Mercedes be just as dominant as feared?
Can Hamilton take his seventh Silverstone victory?
What effect will McLaren's upgrade have?
Can Racing Point string a proper weekend together?
Will Albon be closer to Max?
WHAT ABOUT FERRARI?!
and everything else that will unfold ...
Predictions and general musings welcome below
Edited by TomNokoe, 29 July 2020 - 17:30.