After a frantic foray of grand prix, spanning the globe and ticking off an eclectic range of permanent, semi-permanent, street, new and returning circuits, F1 is back in Britain for the (real) beginning of the European leg, as a clearer picture starts to emerge of this topsy-turvy season.
Just like last year, Red Bull arrive on a hot streak with six wins on the spin. Will their dominance continue or, just like last year, can their flailing rivals strike back to regain a footing in this year's championship?
With upgrades expected throughout the field, and an always-expectant British crowd, what will Silverstone serve up? We've hit double-digits, it's Round 10 of the 2022 FIA Formula One World Championship.
The Buzzword for Britain
Red Bull and Verstappen have picked up that canny knack of winning races even when they're not at their best, an invaluable trait to have. Horner warns of a tough weekend, and remembering their pace in Spain backs up those claims. But a lot has changed since then, and Silverstone rewards the RB18's lower drag far better than Barcelona. Verstappen sits on a comfortable championship cushion, but does he have one eye on redemption? Checo's Canada weekend was a rare blot on his 2022 copybook, he'll need a strong response (and a strong neck) to rebound at one of the fastest tracks on the calendar.
For Ferrari, this weekend is a must-win. The Red Bull straight-line speed has been countered by a lower-drag rear wing that both cars will run this weekend. To really strike back, do they need a 1-2? After nearly seizing pole in 2019, somehow stealing a podium in 2020, and having the win snatched away last year, Leclerc's record here is formidable, will favourable ground help to reignite his championship? And can Sainz go with him to maintain the momentum and confidence he's built up in recent weeks?
Mercedes continue to take small steps toward the front and have had their eye on this smooth, sweeping surface all season long. Will the trifecta of track layout, upgrades and setup understanding unlock the recalcitrant W13? What about the continuing intrateam rivalry - can Russell upstage Hamilton in front of their home fans? What has been relatively lighthearted sparring so far may turn into an all-out brawl should they be battling for a surprise win.
McLaren will be hoping their fortunes change after struggling to maximise results at the last couple of events. This circuit has suited them in recent years, but it remains to be seen whether the pessimism that has pervaded through Lando will make way for some home cheer. Ricciardo will be hoping to confirm his own personal progress at a track that is far different from Baku and Montréal. With midfield rivals bolting on upgrades, it very well may be a weekend on the defensive.
One of those rivals is Alpine, fresh from the contrasting emotions of a fortnight ago. Pleased with their biggest haul of points this season, but frustrated that it could've been far more. The new sidepods introduced in Baku will be complemented by a new floor, with the track's low-drag characteristics suiting their philosophy. Ocon will be hoping to keep up his impressive record of scoring points every time he's raced at Silverstone. Alonso will have to go some to match his front row from Canada.
Just like the aforementioned, Alfa Romeo also took their biggest haul of points last time out and will be glad for the familiarity of rural Northamptonshire after a disrupted run of races has seen them struggling with reliability, setup and spare parts. Bottas' early season form has faded slightly, whilst in contrast, Zhou continues to grow in speed and confidence with every passing event. The Chinese driver took victory here in last year's F2 feature. It's time for the Swiss team to really put together a fully competitive weekend.
AlphaTauri's chronic inconsistency remains as they sit in a no-mans-land P7 in the Constructors'. Pace-wise, this was arguably their worst track last year, and the 2022 car is no better in the high-speed, so it's looking like another tough weekend. Gasly may (or may not) find solace in his future being confirmed, whilst Tsunoda's encouraging form came to an embarrassing halt at Montréal's pit exit.
Aston Martin arrive with a second big upgrade of the year as they, too, look to unlock the pace in their fledging 2022 challenger. The car performed well mechanically in the last three races, but Silverstone will seek to confirm the aero progress made since the initial update in Spain. Vettel ran very well here in 2021, but for a clumsy spin in the opening stages. A year on he looks as strong as he's been for a while, and will celebrate his 35th birthday on Sunday. A solitary home point for Stroll will have helped to abate the spectre of any internal pressure, but he continues to struggle with the new generation of cars.
Despite a double Q3 appearance, Haas barren run stretched to five races in Canada. As the upper midfield teams bring upgrades race-on-race, the top 10 may start to slip away from them, but there's no reason why Silverstone shouldn't suit the all-round nature of their car. Magnussen will be best served taking it easy on lap 1. Mick needs to confirm that Montréal wasn't a flash in the pan.
Finally, a Williams races at Silverstone for the first time since Sir Frank's passing. A reasonable start to the year has quickly faded, but they remain latched on to the pack. Albon's strong return continues. Latifi suspects inequitable equipment.
Not as warm as last year!!
Fri - mixed, 19c
Sat - dry, 20c
Sun - dry, 21c
The hardest set in the range for only the third time this year. Usually between a one and two-stop, although the 2022 tyres do seem slightly more deggy. Cooler temperatures will help. Sky-high pressures as usual.
BST (UK) | CEST (Most of Europe) FP1 1300 1400 FP2 1600 1700 FP3 1200 1300 Q 1500 1600 R 1500 1600
A "normal" weekend, no Sprint this year.
Time zone conversion here.
A great programme, packed with action. Formula 2, Formula 3, W Series and Porsche Supercup supporting. Full schedule.
Very much looking forward to this one!!
Edited by TomNokoe, 29 June 2022 - 15:43.