Silverstone officials cross fingers for Hamilton, Button

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Facing a drop in ticket sales for the upcoming British Grand Prix in June, officials from Silverstone are hoping for an uptick as the race draws closer and believe that improved results from British racers Lewis Hamilton (pictured) and Jenson Button will help in that regard.

“If Lewis and Jenson start winning from Barcelona – and we all know McLaren can turn around their car – that makes a massive difference for us,” British Racing Drivers’ Club president Derek Warwick told Britain’s The Independent this week. “That’s the hope for us.”

Hamilton has had a decent transition to Mercedes so far and sits third in the driver’s championship with a pole and two podiums to his credit. However, the team hasn’t quite achieved the race pace necessary to challenge the front runners with regularity. Button has had more of a struggle with McLaren, as the Woking group prepares to release a wave of upgrades to its MP4-28 to try and help him and teammate Sergio Perez find the front.

As for Silverstone managing director Richard Phillips, he believes the slower pace of ticket sales for the British GP stems from the public being skittish after torrential rains plagued the event last year — not to mention the current success of a certain German.

“With F1, we’ve a combination of what happened last year with the weather, and probably – controversially – you’ve [Sebastian] Vettel doing a little too consistently well for us,” he told The Independent. “So ticket sales are not as good as they were last year.

“They are not drastic, but they are down a bit, and we could do with some help.”

Williams to wait until new year before making 2018 F1 driver decision

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Williams will wait until the new year before making an announcement regarding its Formula 1 driver line-up for the 2018 season.

Williams holds the final vacant seat in F1 for next year, with Felipe Massa retiring at the last race of the 2017 season in Abu Dhabi at the end of November.

The Brazilian’s departure has opened up a seat alongside Lance Stroll for 2018, which looked poised to be taken by Robert Kubica, over seven years after he last raced in F1 before injuries sustained in a rally accident appeared to cut his career short.

Doubts emerged about Kubica’s comeback following a test with Williams in its 2017-spec car in Abu Dhabi after the final race of the season, leading to Russian youngster Sergey Sirotkin becoming the favorite.

Besides Kubica and Sirotkin, ditched Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat is also an option, but Williams has now confirmed it will make no decision on its line-up until the new year.

Sirotkin first entered the frame in F1 in 2013 when he became a development driver at Sauber, with Russian backers SMP Racing pushing to get him a race seat for the following year.

Sirotkin missed out on a full-time role at the team, leading him to focus on racing in Formula Renault 3.5 for 2014 before spending two years in GP2, where he finished third in the standings in both seasons.

Renault struck an agreement to sign Sirotkin in a junior role in 2016, leading to a number of practice run-outs over the last two seasons, but he was passed over for a 2018 race seat when it signed Carlos Sainz Jr.

Williams emerged as an option for Sirotkin following a successful maiden test with the team in Abu Dhabi alongside Kubica, with talks now set to continue over the holiday period.

Sirotkin has not taken on a full-time race program this year, making just a single competitive appearance in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with SMP Racing in the LMP2 class.

Sirotkin has also been involved in the development of the team’s BR Engineering-designed LMP1 car for the 2018 FIA World Endurance Championship season, and is likely to secure a seat should he miss out on the role at Williams.