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So far, the ‘Silver Arrows’ of Mercedes have been the dominant force, claiming four straight victories: Valtteri Bottas took the chequered flag in the opening Austrian Grand Prix on 5 July, with world champion Lewis Hamilton only managing a fourth-place finish after he was hit with a penalty for a collision with Red Bull’s Alexander Albon.
However, Hamilton has come storming back strongly: he won the inaugural Styrian Grand Prix (the second successive race held at the Red Bull Ring in Speilberg) on 12 July and followed it up with victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix seven days later (where he became the second driver, after Michael Schumacher, to win a single event a record eight times in his career).
After a two-week break, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone last weekend saw Hamilton rack up a hat-trick of wins, though only after a dramatic finish in which the six-time world champion nursed his car home on the final lap with a puncture.
Hamilton was one of several drivers to suffer tyre issues at the race, though this weekend’s GP should not be similarly affected, with Pirelli bringing a softer range of rubber which will require more frequent changes and should eliminate the long runs and high wear which caused problems last weekend.
Hamilton enjoys a 30-point lead at the top of the drivers’ championship over teammate Bottas (with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen just six points further back) and Mercedes have an enormous 68-point advantage over Red Bull in the constructors’ championship.
Mercedes chief racing engineer Andrew Shovlin insists that Hamilton will not be taking his foot off the pedal, despite his strong lead at the top of the drivers’ standings: “I know how Lewis will be approaching this but he won’t consider this breathing space.”
He added, “It’s still very early days in the championship. But they [Hamilton and Bottas] obviously both see each other as key rivals at the moment. There wasn’t a lot between them on Sunday, and certainly the bad luck fell Valtteri’s way.
“The race tells you anything can happen, it’s also early in the year with new cars. There will be reliability issues that we find over the next few races that are lurking in there.”
This weekend’s second successive race at the legendary Silverstone circuit in Northamptonshire, England is the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix. This celebrates Silverstone holding the first F1 GP championship race in May 1950.
Formula 1 – 70th Anniversary Grand Prix broadcast details
Saturday 8 August
14:55: Qualifying – LIVE on SuperSport 6 and SuperSport Maximo 1
Sunday 9 August
15:05: 70th Anniversary Grand Prix – LIVE on SuperSport 6 and SuperSport Maximo 1