Red Bull has been pulling ahead in the championships the last few races. Can Ferrari or Mercedes turn things around to bring the fight to Red Bull at the British GP?
The Controversial 2021 British GP
Last season, at the British GP, Max Verstappen suffered a 51G impact after he touched wheels with Lewis Hamilton. His car skipped across the gravel and careened into the barriers. The marshalls removed the Dutchman from the cockpit of his balled-up Red Bull. He was responsive and able to move, but the impact was very serious.
The two were fighting for what ended up also being a controversial Drivers’ World Championship anyway. Verstappen had won the sprint race on Saturday, so he started from pole position in front of Hamilton.
The Seven-time World Champion made it as close as possible with Verstappen in the first few corners on Lap One. Hamilton did not want his rival to drive off into the cleaner air as he did in the sprint race. This is why I believe that he made an ambitious move at the nearly flat-out Copse Corner.
This is a great analysis of what happened. I believe that Hamilton was too aggressive here because he was worried about losing the race if he wasn’t ahead after the first lap. His Mercedes didn’t have any damage from the incident and was able to continue.
The stewards issued a red flag. They also watched the replays and decided that Hamilton and Mercedes should receive a ten-second stop-go penalty. As opposed to a time penalty that is applied at the end of the race.
Charles Leclerc then lead from the restart, Hamilton had conceded the position following the incident with Verstappen. What surprised me about Hamilton’s aggression during the race, was his willingness to make the same dangerous move on other drivers.
He tried on Lando Norris, who seemed to let him through into the dangerous Copse Corner. Then, on Lap 50/52, Hamilton tried the same move on Leclerc into Copse. The Ferrari driver had to take to the dirtier part of the circuit in order to leave space for Hamilton. In the process, he went off the track after bottoming out on the exit curb.
Verstappen was understandably frustrated after the race because of the way that Hamilton celebrated and addressed the media. Hamilton was delighted with the win. It appeared that he didn’t care that much about sending Verstappen to the shadow realm.
The Red Bull team was not pleased with the ten-second stop-go penalty, as Hamilton still won the race. Typically, for an incident in a risky corner, such as Copse, the penalty would likely prevent that driver from winning.
Glad I’m ok. Very disappointed with being taken out like this. The penalty given does not help us and doesn’t do justice to the dangerous move Lewis made on track. Watching the celebrations while still in hospital is disrespectful and unsportsmanlike behavior but we move on pic.twitter.com/iCrgyYWYkm— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) July 18, 2021
Crowd Favorites in Britain
The British GP is the home race for Hamilton, his teammate George Russell, and McLaren’s Lando Norris. These drivers will be expecting more support, as well as more pressure.
Lewis Hamilton has won at Silverstone eight times in his F1 career. He has been on pole seven times and stood on the podium 12 times.
Home crowd ❤️🤍💙 pic.twitter.com/9JoVrpN7ap— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) June 30, 2022
Russell has been truly impressive in his first year with Mercedes considering their struggles with the car, mainly porpoising. The British driver put in a lot of hard work to extract the most out of the tricky Williams car before he got the call up to Mercedes. He replaced Valteri Bottas as Hamilton’s teammate.
The 24-year-old has brought the fight to Hamilton, and he has not made it easy for the veteran to blame his problems entirely on his car. Russell has finished in the top five of every race this season.
McLaren driver Lando Norris will also be representing Great Britain this weekend. He is in a car that could compete for a podium. He will need to have a great qualifying result on Saturday and execute a perfect strategy on Sunday.
Overtaking Opportunities Aplenty
There are three DRS zones that will enable the drivers to overtake each other more often. Three is a lot, most tracks only have one or two – to my knowledge – so the British GP should be a fan favorite.
There are more opportunities in wet weather to make overtaking maneuvers, which seems counterintuitive. Drivers such as Esteban Ocon, Fernando Alonso, and Sebastien Vettel are very confident in the rain, to name a few. They will be able to find grip where others can’t if it rains on Sunday.
Wind could also play a factor in every session this weekend. Drivers may enter a corner the way that they normally would, but their car may not cooperate because of the wind. The leading drivers will not necessarily be guaranteed the win; mistakes could be provoked by the elements.
Can Ferrari Comeback in the Championship?
At the start of this season, it seemed that the fight between Red Bull and Ferrari, specifically between Leclerc and Verstappen, would be close by this point in the season. Ferrari certainly isn’t out of contention through the ninth round.
Verstappen and Perez have suffered from reliability issues, mainly towards the beginning of the season, while Leclerc won Round One and Three. Lately, Ferrari has been the one with reliability issues, which has allowed Red Bull’s drivers to pull ahead.
Ferrari will be looking to put both of their drivers on the podium, and get some points back on their rivals.
Red Bull must remain composed this weekend. The way I see it, there is not as much pressure on them as there is for the Scuderia.
Team orders could become an issue for the RB team boss, Christian Horner, who may need to make the unpopular decision of ordering Perez out of Verstappen’s way. The Dutchman will likely be hungry for redemption for last season’s win that could have been.