Formula One World Championship heads to the renowned Silverstone Circuit for the 2021 British Grand Prix, which will introduce a new approach to qualifying. There will also be less time for practice runs, while all drivers will have a free choice of tyres, albeit that hardly helps with all the questions surrounding the 10th round of the Formula One 2021 season.
With Max Verstappen’s form on the season and his firm hold of the top spot on the Drivers’ Championship standings, it would be fair to say that there won’t be any major upsets on the Silverstone Circuit. The Dutch has been the best driver throughout the season and has further solidified himself as such with three back-to-back victories, but with the introduction of the Spring Race, things could get interesting in the middle of the pack.
Will it also help Lewis Hamilton break his dry streak and win his seventh race on his home track? Perhaps, but it’s hard to say whether that will be the case due to the high level of uncertainty the changed qualifiers will bring.
Max Verstappen added his fifth victory of the season at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday, July 4, when he claimed his third back-to-back victory of the season. The Mad Max ended the race well ahead of the competition, with Valtteri Bottas in second (+17.973s) and Lando Norris finishing in third (+20.019s), securing his third podium of 2021.
Lewis Hamilton managed a disappointing fourth-place finish on the day, which further increased the gap between the seven-time Formula One World Champion and Verstappen, who now leads by 32 points. The Austrian Grand Prix marked the third race of 2021, where Hamilton failed to finish on the podium and only his fifth across the last two seasons.
The weather forecast for this weekend is sunny and dry. The temperatures are expected at around 26°C throughout the entire weekend, peaking at 28°C on Sunday.
Some wind is expected, particularly on Friday and Saturday, but it will be less windy on race day. The chance of rain is at 0% from Friday-Sunday.
Sprint Race Qualifiers
The 2021 British Grand Prix will introduce a Sprint Race, a 100km, 17 lap race used to determine the grid for the Sunday. The race will not have any mandatory pit stops, while the drivers will get to choose any tyres they like.
Although the Spring Race will have quite liberal rules, the free choice of tyres might not be as beneficial as it may sound. A big issue the drivers will have to overcome this weekend is the lack of practice time, seeing how they will have only one hour to figure out the best setup ahead of the qualifiers.
One hour is not a lot of time, and assessing the situation wrong could lead to a subpar performance in the Sprint Race and consequently a worse starting position on Sunday. That is definitely not something drivers can afford on Silverstone, where overtaking is not as easy as on some other tracks.
The pole sitters won half of eight races. Two drivers won the race from the second spot on the grid, while the remaining belonged to fourth- and sixth-placed drivers.
The Sprint Race will be an exciting experiment; however, we don’t believe it will shake up the field much more than usually qualifiers would. The fastest drivers will still be fast, and those who end up crashing would have likely crashed out in “normal” qualifiers as well.
No Qualifiers Could Benefit Some Drivers
While Sprint Race likely won’t have much of an impact on the race due to its nature, it might affect the starting grid indirectly. It’s no surprise that some drivers do better in qualifiers and struggle in race (and vice versa), so Sprint Race could provide some drivers with an edge relative to how their chances to succeed would look like in a typical qualifying race.
Two examples of drivers that could benefit/be negatively affected by the Sprint Race are Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez. The former usually underperforms in qualifying and does much better in races, while the opposite holds true for Perez.
Ricciardo has managed a 10.7 average grid position, but he has consistently made up two places over the race. The 32-year-old has collected five top-7 and three top-6 finishes over the season and averaged an 8.3 finish.
As honourable mentions, we have AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda. Gasly has proven to be very fast in qualifying but has consistently underdelivered in races, whereas the Japanese rookie struggled to compete in qualifying but has done well so over a race distance.
Hamilton Looking For His Seventh Victory at Silverstone
Lewis Hamilton is the most successful driver here, winning six out of eight races and finishing runner-up in the remaining two. Last year, he needed only three tyres to win the first race but ended up losing the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix to Max Verstappen after taking a more conservative approach due to his issues with the tyres a week prior.
Talking about tyres, for this week, the drivers will use Pirelli’s new tyres, which they tested in Austria. Of course, that introduces some uncertainty, and it definitely won’t help Mercedes who will enter the racer with an upgraded car.
It would have been fine introducing two new elements to the race. However, due to the lack of practice time, it should make you a bit sceptical about Mercedes’ and how will the new tyres combined with the upgrades perform.
Still, it’s hard to draw any conclusions before we see how the drivers do in the first qualifying on Friday. And only then we will get a clearer picture of which drivers will do well in the Sprint Race, leading into Sunday’s race.
Prediction: Daniel Ricciardo Top 6 Finish – 1.83 Bet365