There are plenty of reasons to be excited about this weekend’s British Grand Prix, but it could prove to be a very special weekend indeed. Here are five reasons why…
A new race weekend format
Formula 1 will debut a new race weekend format. OK, we know things like this haven’t quite gone to plan in past seasons, think back to double points at the season finale and knock-out qualifying (oh god, why?!). But this genuinely feels like it’s been thought out properly, rather than rushed through at the last minute.
Sprint Qualifying, as it’ll be known, is a 100km race on Saturday that will decide who starts the grand prix from pole position. But if you’re worried about missing out on the traditional three-stage qualifying session, don’t worry, because that’s happening too…on a Friday!
Friday will see Practice 1 (60 minutes) followed by Qualifying (Q1, Q2, Q3). That will form the grid for Saturday’s Sprint Qualifying. But before that, we have Practice 2 (60 minutes). Sprint Qualifying is a short race, around 1/3 distance of a grand prix, with the result deciding the starting order for Sunday’s main event.
Points will be awarded to the top three (1st = three points, 2nd = two points and 3rd = one point). The race will be the same with the same number of points awarded.
It could be exciting, but equally it might not. But you’ll never know unless you try it, and that’s the attitude F1 is taking.
The future of the sport unveiled
Formula 1 will unveil a life-size model of the 2022 car that will be raced next season. Originally planned for this year, the new rules were delayed a season and we’ll finally lay eyes on which the new cars will look like.
Think futuristic. Sleek, flowing lines. No complex wings dotted over the bodywork. The new car sees a return to ground-effect where the majority of the downforce is created by large tunnels in the floor. The benefit of this is that the trailing airflow is much ‘cleaner’ and allows a chasing car to follow more closely.
It’s hoped this will encourage closer racing, which will in turn lead to more overtaking. It’s also the first year that the budget cap and development scale will truly have an impact, which it’s hoped will help to level the playing field between the front running teams and those at the back of the pack.
A capacity crowd
The British Grand Prix will be the second race this season with a capacity crowd following the last time out in the largely orange-filled grandstands at the Red Bull Ring. About 40,000 fans packed the grandstands. That number will be dwarfed by a sell-out crowd of 140,000 at Silverstone on Sunday.
That means there will be a weekend capacity of around 300,000 in attendance across the three days of action.
Although England’s COVID rules won’t have been fully relaxed by then – that’s expected on the Monday after the race – the British government has given it special status, recognising the fact it’s not only a largely outdoor venue, but that it falls so close to the end of restrictions.
That will surely give Lewis Hamilton a spring in his step…
Let battle resume…
Talking of fans and how 140,000 fans will boost Hamilton, we’re set for another exciting showdown between Mercedes and Red Bull. Whilst the latter has clearly pulled ahead and enjoyed dominant form in Austria, Mercedes will be giving it everything to fight back this week.
The Silverstone circuit is happy hunting ground for the
Silver Black Arrows. Mercedes has won seven of the last eighth British Grands Prix, one of those was even done on three wheels! If you want to get technical, they’ve actually won seven of the last nine if you include the 70th Anniversary GP.
That’s a strong run of form and Red Bull knows it’s not going to be as easy as it was in Austria. Throw into the mix the fact Mercedes have teased an “exciting” new upgrade, this could well be the closest battle we’ve seen in a handful of races.
It’s the f**king
Catalina Wine Mixer British GP
Finally, what more is there to say other than it’s the British Grand Prix weekend, where the championship began back in 1950. It’s one of the very best. The fans are passionate and knowledgeable. The traditional circuit produces some of the most exciting action. There’s Red Arrows, there’s support races – W Series included – and it promises to be a glorious weekend of warm weather and blue skies. What more could you ask for?