Formula One is coming home as the 2016 season enters double figures for round ten, the British Grand Prix. Badger GP looks at five things to look forward to in Silverstone.
Will Lewis Hamilton speed off to hometown glory?
After a shaky start to 2016, Hamilton has finally found his form having won three of the last four races to cut Nico Rosberg’s championship lead down to just 11 points.
With the home crowd firmly behind him, the triple world champion will be looking to take his fourth British Grand Prix crown in total, and third in a row. A home win would bode well for Hamilton’s title hopes, for in each year he’s won the British Grand Prix he has gone on to win the championship.
Psychologically the advantage should rest with Hamilton, with Rosberg coping most of the flak for their needless coming together in Austria. However, Hamilton has been known for making things hard for himself in the past; lest we also forget the Brit is one reprimand away from a grid penalty. So no misdemeanours in practice please Lewis!
There are also questions over Mercedes possibly bringing in team-orders form Silverstone onwards but Hamilton isn’t so keen on the idea –
“We are driving at 200-plus miles an hour. You expect us to drive around and never, ever have a problem? I doubt it. So I hope that it doesn’t change and we can continue to race. That’s just my honest opinion from a love of this sport.”
Well said that man!
Will Rosberg usurp Hamilton on British soil?
After the controversial coming together of the Silver Arrows in Austria, one feels Rosberg may be given the cold shoulder in Brackley for a few days. The perfect remedy he could give the team would be an emphatic win for them at their first home race of the season.
Any kind of collision with Hamilton could potentially be the biggest mistake of Rosberg’s career – Toto Wolff has warned a race suspension may be handed to either driver in a repeat of Austria.
With his championship lead cut just about in half, it’s crucial for him that he doesn’t let Hamilton waltz to another home win. With just three races left until the summer break, Rosberg will be desperate to increase his championship lead before everyone gets a chance to re-group. He’s been here before in 2014. Then the championship went down to the wire in the final race and that experience should help Rosberg.
Let’s also not forget ‘silly season’ is now approaching full speed; Rosberg will want that new contract signed sooner rather than later, especially given Ferrari seemingly want to keep Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull are now full until 2019.
Can Ferrari finally win in 2016?
Three times this year Ferrari should have won a grand prix this season; Australia, Spain and Canada. All three were lost thanks to poor strategy calls, and the days of Brawn and Schumacher making fools of the entire field a distant memory now.
Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen will look to call those missed wins water under the bridge heading into a British Grand Prix you’d expect the team to be strong in. Indeed Vettel finished just behind the two Mercedes in last year’s grand prix.
The engine is just about on a par with Mercedes which will help down that long Hanger Straight. It’s in the bendy stuff the drivers will have to make a difference as Mercedes continue to lead the way aerodynamically.
Ferrari will also be wary of Red Bull, as the Milton Keynes based team continue to make strides in 2016. Red Bull got the better of Ferrari in Spain, winning with Max Verstappen thanks to better strategy and a wary Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn desperately needs a great British Grand Prix if he wants to hold off competition from Sergio Perez and Nico Rosberg for his seat next year.
Is this Jenson Button’s last British Grand Prix?
Perhaps not. Rumour has it Button may be off to Williams next season to bring his career full circle; he made his debut with the team back in 2000. First though he has to deliver for McLaren-Honda this weekend, in what fans will be hoping isn’t his last outing at home.
Button finished a brilliant 6th in Austria, as well as starting 3rd, and will be cautiously hopeful of a similar result in Britain. Silverstone has been something of a bogey track for him over the years, as he is yet to get on the podium in front of his home fans.
With wet weather forecast sometime over the weekend, Button should shine. Let’s just hope his Honda doesn’t set fire to the rain along the way…
Can Williams surprise the field?
It’s a real shame Williams have taken yet another step backwards in 2016. This time last year they were leading the British Grand Prix as a 1-2 before a rain shower ruined the day.
Now would be the perfect time for turning tables on Ferrari and Mercedes to take a popular win. Pastor Maldonado’s victory four years ago is beginning to feel like a very distant memory indeed.
Of Williams two drivers you’d back Valtteri Bottas over Felipe Massa to do the honours for the team. Massa does have the team’s sole pole in the new turbo era, but he hasn’t looked anywhere near as feisty in 2016 as he did last season. Ears close to the paddock floor believe Massa may retire at the end of the year. We hope, if it’s true, he leaves the sport in a blaze of glory rather than a smokey whimper.
One thing we can be certain of from Williams is lightning quick pit-stops. So far this season they have won every single DHL Fastest Pit-Stop Award, not bad for a team who were the laughing stock of the pit-lane in Spa last year – Bottas was sent out with two different tyre compounds on his car.