The 10th round of the 2018 Formula 1 season takes place this weekend as the British Grand Prix is held at Silverstone.
Lewis Hamilton has won at this track for the last four years, but heads into this year’s race having lost the lead in the drivers’ standings last time out.
Sebastian Vettel sits at the top of the championship, while Ferrari leads the constructors race following Mercedes’s double retirement in Austria.
3 Legs 4 Wheels looks ahead to this weekend’s action.
What happened last time?
Hamilton secured his fifth career win at the British Grand Prix in 2017, leading from start to finish to equal the record for most wins at the race held by Alain Prost and Jim Clark.
The race was held over a shorter distance than initially intended after Jolyon Palmer suffered a hydraulic failure on the formation lap, meaning a second formation lap was needed.
Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo both came through the field during the race after being given grid penalties. The Finn had started ninth as a result of a gearbox penalty, but used an alternative tyre strategy to work his way back to second, while the Red Bull began the day on the back row after taking new engine elements, but Ricciardo charged through to take fifth.
Both Ferrari drivers lost positions in the closing stages of the race after suffering punctures. Kimi Raikkonen was running second when his Pirelli rubber let go, but he was near the pit entrance so managed to hang on to the final spot on the podium, but Vettel’s puncture dropped him to seventh.
What’s new for 2018?
Silverstone will have an extra drag reduction system zone this year, making three in total at the circuit. In addition to the DRS zones on the Wellington and Hangar Straights, a third has been added on the pit straight.
The extra DRS zone means drivers will be able to open their rear wings through Abbey and Farm corners at the start of the lap, although drivers will have the option to deactivate the system before entering the corners if they don’t want to attempt the corners without their rear wing closed. It’s the first time drivers have had the option to use DRS while cornering.
The track has been resurfaced since last year in a bid to reduce some of the bumps on the circuit and replace the different surface types that had been in place around the track, making it more uniform. The new surface is also designed to add more grip during wet conditions.
Tyres and pitstops
Pirelli’s hard compound will be in use for the first time this season at the British Grand Prix, along with the mediums and softs. The compounds are one step harder than were used in the race last year, potentially taking into account the new track surface and the issues suffered by Ferrari in 2017.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who won his first race of the season last time out, has the most conservative tyre options, with fewer softs than any other driver on the grid and two sets of hards, while most drivers have opted for just one set of the ice blue striped tyres. Toro Rosso and Renault have both gone with 10 sets of soft tyres, while all other drivers will have eight or nine sets for the weekend.
Most drivers stuck to a one-stop strategy at Silverstone last year, but there was some variation. While the majority of the top 10 started on the supersoft tyre, Bottas started on the softs and pitted later than the majority of the leaders, leaving him on the quicker tyre in the final laps of the race and allowing him to make up seven places from the grid. Ricciardo made his supersofts last longer than any other driver after starting at the back, leaving him on fresh tyres late in the race. A couple of drivers needed two stops, including the Ferraris following their punctures.
The new track surface may be designed to add extra grip in the wet, but it doesn’t look like it’ll be needed this weekend, with no rain forecast between Friday and Sunday.
Friday’s practices should go ahead in dry and sunny conditions, with temperatures expected to reach around 26°C in similarly bright conditions for qualifying.
The temperatures should be around the same level for race day, although it could cloud over towards the end of the race, while wind isn’t likely to be a factor throughout the weekend.
What to expect
Mercedes have won at Silverstone for the last five years in a row, with Hamilton claiming the last four. The circuit is power-dependent, so should favour the Mercedes car again if the team can avoid a repeat of the failures it suffered in Austria, while another victory for Hamilton would make him the most successful driver ever at the British Grand Prix.
In the last 10 years, five winners have started the race from pole position. Although pole position isn’t vital for victory, most of those who’ve won without being fastest in qualifying have started in the front two rows, so qualifying strongly is key. However, Hamilton did manage victory from sixth on the grid in 2014.
Ferrari are the most successful team at the race, with 15 wins in total, but they’ve struggled at Silverstone in recent years, with just two wins in the last 13 runnings of the race. Even Michael Schumacher struggled to get the better of the McLarens during his dominant era, winning three of his 10 starts for the Italian team.
Bottas and Ricciardo may be two of the drivers you’d expect to see near the front this weekend, but neither qualify well at Silverstone – the pair have only ever started the race outside the top three, although both came through the field well last year after starting out of place due to grid penalties.
Speaking of grid penalties, they could be an issue for some drivers this weekend. Ricciardo is one driver to keep an eye on, as he’s already used his full year’s allowance for all six power unit components. Having retired in Austria last time out, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Australian taking a penalty at this race, particularly as he proved he can make up places at Silverstone last year. The addition of a third DRS zone could also help any driver hit by grid penalties make up places in the race this weekend.
Williams’s Sergey Sirotkin hasn’t had a great rookie season so far, and remains the only driver yet to score points following Romain Grosjean’s 4th in Austria last week. This could be a good track for the Russian to finally open his account though, as one of his three GP2 victories came at Silverstone in 2015.
To hear what the team thinks about this race listen to our preview on this week’s podcast, and check out our predictions for Sunday’s podium. Join us during qualifying and the race for our live blogs and tell us what you think through Twitter and Facebook.
Why not make your own predictions for the race? You can sign up to the newly-launched official Formula 1 fantasy game with PlayON here.