As we head home to good old Blighty and the threat of a rare dry Sunday, all eyes will be on the two Mercedes drivers of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg and how well they behave on track. After a double DNF in Spain and a very close shave on the last lap in Austria last time out, the pressure will be on them to prove to Toto Wolff that they understand that the team comes before personal glory.
Therefore, all eyes down the road in Brackley will be looking at last year’s impeccable drive by the two, and will be hoping their drivers can secure the double 1-2 in qualifying and the race that they achieved last year. However, once again questions will be asked over how they get away from the grid. Last year the Williams drivers both getting the jump on the Mercedes, and caused a fair bit of trouble until the first pit stops. Hamilton may well be looking back on his pit strategies of last year with fond memories, where a great undercut at stop one, and perfect timing switching to intermediate tyres on stop two, were instrumental in his victory. After some consternation over pitting strategy in Austria, he’ll want to emulate the fine teamwork seen this time last year.
One person who didn’t get the strategy right last time was Kimi Raikkonen, who came in far too early for the inters last time out, eventually finishing in a poor eighth from a fifth place start, compared to Vettel’s third from sixth. With Kimi rolling back the years and matching his team-mate point for point this year, Ferrari will be hoping he continues his fine run of form that saw him sneak the final podium place in Spielberg.
Over at Williams, they will be hoping that their current run of poor results can be ended with a throwback to an impressive performance here last time out. Massa and Bottas qualified third and fourth respectively, with Massa taking the lead from the start, and Bottas jumping to third (and almost taking second off of Hamilton too), although they eventually slipped to fourth and fifth after rain struck, they’ll be wanting to use their speed to its maximum on a circuit that, if dry, will reward their power on the straights.
Whether they will have to tackle the Red Bulls is a question to be thought about over the next few days. Certainly last season it was a race to forget for Christian Horner, with seventh and tenth in qualifying being far below expectation. Ricciardo retired from the race early with electrical issues, though Kvyat did gain a place to finish sixth. The team will be hoping the improvements in the Renault engine over the last few races will allow them to push harder on a track that favours the Mercedes powered cars.
Talking of Mercedes engines, Force India will be hoping that Spielberg was just a mere blip in an otherwise fine season. They’ll be looking to strike back on a favourable track, and emulating the double points finish of last season will be a minimum target. Both drivers produced solid if unspectacular drives last time, and although they showed decent pace early on, in the end they had to bow to the performance of the better cars in the changeable weather. Hulkenberg did very well to convert his ninth place start to seventh overall, keeping Raikkonen at bay, whilst Perez also gained two places to finish ninth.
As for Manor, they will certainly still be on cloud nine after Wehrlein’s maiden point of the season for the team. On paper, 12th and 13th last year would be a great result to replicate – however dig a little deeper and you’ll see that equates to last two runners, two laps behind Ericsson’s Sauber in 11th. Given how few cars finished last year, being best of the rest could be worth another point, and the difference between 10th and last in the Constructors Standings.
Case in point being Fernando Alonso’s first point on his return to McLaren here last season. In a car which when described as horrific is actually a compliment. He did the bare minimum that he could – keep it on track and finish a race for the first time since Bahrain – and took advantage of the issues others had suffered. One of those being teammate Jenson Button, who suffered as Alonso dived to avoid the Lotus crash at turn three on the opening lap, and saw his race over before it had begun. He’ll be hoping to avoid such bad luck this weekend and build on a great time out in Austria last week.
In truth for most of the others, even finishing will be a huge improvement. Verstappen will be hoping to last more than three laps without spinning off this weekend, whilst his former team-mate Sainz suffered gremlins on lap 31 last year. As mentioned earlier, Grosjean ended up tangled with Maldonado on the first lap last year (in Maldonado’s defence, he was the innocent party), and Felipe Nasr didn’t even make it to the grid before his gearbox gave way. If we can avoid all the collisions that shortened the field last year (and in truth, Silverstone isn’t known for masses of retirements normally), we should hopefully be on for another fantastic race.