It seems inconceivable to claim that should Hamilton win this Sunday, Formula 1 may as well hand him the Drivers’ Championship trophy but history doesn’t lie.

‘Simply unbelievable’

Hamilton rarely makes mistakes, one a season if his rivals are lucky, so his blooper for 2020 is done and dusted after he tagged Alexander Albon at the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.

Since then it has been lights to flag for the 35-year-old, who took pole position at the Styrian Grand Prix by a massive 1.2s and in Hungary lapped everyone up until and including sixth-placed Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari.

Lights to flag could be what’s on offer again this weekend as Formula 1’s second batch of triple headers kicks off at the Silverstone circuit.

Of the 20 drivers, Hamilton is the one with the most pole positions and the most race victories, six apiece.

Since joining Mercedes in 2013 to replace Michael Schumacher at the Brackley squad, Hamilton has won five of seven British GPs, the other two having gone the way of Nico Rosberg, 2013, and Vettel, 2018.

After his emphatic display in Hungary, one that put him up into the lead in the Drivers’ standings, it is hard to see anyone beating Hamilton this Sunday, or at least anyone not driving a black Mercedes.

Although the team continues to play down its form, team boss Toto Wolff adamant that one DNF would change the game entirely, Vettel believes only “Valtteri Bottas” can stop Hamilton from winning.

Although the Finn’s results this season have fallen from a first to a second to a third in the opening three races, driving the W11 he is the only genuine challenger to Hamilton. Formula 1 needs him to activate that Bottas 3.0 button and get back in the game.

Former racer turned pundit, Ralf Schumacher, fears it may already be too late.

“In addition to Hamilton’s extreme talent and his overview and his racing intelligence, he is simply in an absolutely professional and superior team,” the German told Sky Deutschland.

“Of course he made a few mistakes in Spielberg, but it was the first race, that may have been a part of it. Now he’s back on his pace.

“What he does at all times is simply unbelievable. Under pressure, he works very well. Unfortunately, his team-mate is not like that.”

Red’s the challenger, in name not colour

Red Bull has been Mercedes’ closest challenger so far this season with Max Verstappen on the podium at the Styrian GP and again in Hungary where he split the W11s.

However, the RB16 is, at least for now, no match for the Mercedes in terms of pace. Rather Verstappen and his team-mate Albon need a bit of strategic luck to enter the fray.

“We are definitely closer in the race, but Mercedes still have an advantage,” admitted team boss Christian Horner.

“We have some anomalies with the car that aren’t behaving as we expected, so a lot of work is going into understanding that and addressing that for the future races.

“It’s a significant gap but it depends on how much performance we can unlock on RB16. We know we’ve got the fundamental basics of a decent car here, it’s just not behaving as our simulation tools predicted as it will and we need to understand that and make sure it’s achieving what it should be doing, which hasn’t been the case.”

Last season Verstappen lost out on a Silverstone podium when Vettel locked up his brakes and ran into the back of the Dutchman at Turn 16.

Both cars were pitched into spins with Verstappen recovering to P5 while a 10-second penalty meant Vettel was down in 16th place.

Ferrari’s power dilemma

Ferrari is in for a tough weekend that will come with a not-so-healthy dose of disillusionment given that Silvesstone is one of Formula 1’s last remaining true power circuits.

With its iconic corners such as Copse, Maggotts, Becketts and Chapel testing both the driver and the car, the SF1000 will come up short.

Although Ferrari spent the first two races of the championship blaming the car’s aerodynamics for its midfield fall from grace, team boss Mattia Binotto finally admitted at the Hungarian GP that it is the engine that’s the problem.

Last year Ferrari’s power unit created controversy when rivals accused the Scuderia of “cheating” – as Verstappen put it – by allegedly finding a way around the FIA’s fuel sensors.

Motorsport’s governing body clamped down on it, Ferrari’s engines lost power, and the team and its customers have yet to recover.

Binotto, Vettel and Charles Leclerc have all conceded that it is worse than expected with Ferrari chairman John Elkann predicting that the Italian stable will be out of the fight until 2022.

A harsh reality for Ferrari and its tofisi, one that will be drilled home this weekend given the nature of the Silverstone circuit.

The bigger proportion of a lap spent at full throttle, the worse Ferrari will be meaning even the Hungarian embarrassment of being lapped may not be rock bottom.

Best of the rest is now chasing third

Best of the rest for the past decade has been the team chasing fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship. No longer. It, thanks to Ferrari, is now third place.

McLaren is holding that down by one point ahead of Racing Point, however, the pink Mercedes team has yet to string together a perfect weekend.

Although it was McLaren that was the first team outside the big three to reach the podium this season, Lando Norris third in Austria, it is Racing Point who pundits reckon could end the campaign with the most podiums after Mercedes and Red Bull.

Norris concedes McLaren need to bag points while Racing Point is still ironing out its issues, the latter having to deal with upcoming hearings after Renault protested the RP20’s brake ducts as well as constant questions about the car’s design.

But while in recent years McLaren and Racing Point have been evenly matched around the Silverstone circuit, this weekend the RP20 is expected to come to the fore… after all it is pretty much the car that won last year’s British Grand Prix.

Ferrari and Renault will try to enter that fight but even the weather gods aren’t up to playing in Ferrari’s favour with blue skies and a warm track forecast for the weekend.

Alpha, Alfa, Haas and Williams

Seven points separate AlphaTauri in seventh place from Williams in 10th, an order that can change with just one good, or for that matter one bad, weekend.

AlphaTauri, Red Bull’s junior team, picked up good points at the Red Bull Ring while Alfa Romeo benefitted from the chaos ahead to get Antonio Giovinazzi into the points and Haas welcomed a penalty in Hungary to bag its first.

Alfa and Haas, though, are paying the price for Ferrari’s engine trickery, neither openly criticising its engine supplier but acknowledging that they are down on pace and that there won’t be any “joy” at Silverstone.

As for Williams, the Grove team has shown signs of improvement with deputy team boss Claire Williams proclaiming that Williams “is back racing” after getting both cars into Q2 in Hungary. Points, though, have yet to follow.

Worryingly the team went from 12th and 14th on the Hungaroring grid to 18th and 19th at the chequered flag leaving one to wonder if Williams is playing a qualifying game to make the team look more appealing to potential buyers.

Williams announced before the start of the 2020 season that the Formula 1 team, winners of nine Constructors’ Championship is up for sale as a going concern. But unless that concern comes with prize money, something P10 doesn’t earn, well that would be more of a concern to potential buyers.

The best part about the British GP weekend? Seven days later Formula 1 will do it all over again at the Northamptonshire track with the 70th Anniversary GP.

Onlineautos
Author: Onlineautos