Brits at Britain: Button seeks that elusive first podium

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The “home Grand Prix” has in recent years been reduced by the preponderance of new Formula One races occurring outside of Europe.

With the British and German Grands Prix coming up in the next two weeks, eight of the 22 drivers on the grid will have their chance to race in front of their home fans. Three Englishmen and a Scot have the honor this weekend at Silverstone (Sunday, 7:30 a.m. ET, CNBC and live streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra), while four Germans will race at the Nurburgring on July 7.

We’ll take a look at the English drivers in their home races first, then the Germans next week.

JENSON BUTTON: UNLUCKY 13 WITHOUT A TOP-THREE

For Jenson Button, 2013 marks his 14th crack at Silverstone. And after a four-year period when Button’s had the best car on the grid or close to it, getting anything close to a podium in 2013 would be a massive result for the down-on-pace McLaren Mercedes.

Button’s results at Silverstone have never fully matched the hype or hopes of the home crowd – he has yet to score a podium in his home race.

Things started well enough, when Button recorded his first ever Formula One top five at Silverstone in 2000, then the fourth race of the championship, in his only start there for Williams.

Two fruitless years with Benetton and Renault followed before three minor points placings with BAR from 2003 to 2005 (eighth, fourth and fifth respectively). His last run for BAR at Silverstone was dreadful, a 19th place qualifying effort and a retirement on lap 8 with an oil leak.

The geriatric factory Honda of the next two years made it nearly a decade worth of trying without a podium.

Button’s World Championship season of 2009 should have been the year. After four straight victories and six of seven to open the account, Button rode the largest wave of momentum he’s ever had in his career – to an uncompetitive and almost heartbreaking sixth place.

In three starts for McLaren at Silverstone, Button was fourth in 2010 but hasn’t bettered 10th since.

We don’t expect Button to end that podium-less streak at Silverstone this year (Sunday, 7:30 a.m. ET, CNBC), but it would be a massive result and a huge career moment if somehow he can pull it off.

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”