Brits at Britain: Hamilton seeks return to heights of ’07-’08

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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.

LEWIS HAMILTON: FROM SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS TO…? 

Lewis Hamilton set the bar so high from his first two Grands Prix at Silverstone that it would be hard to match from that point on.

Hamilton had starred at Silverstone in GP2 with some excellent passing maneuvers and headed into the 2007 British Grand Prix as the favorite – as a rookie. Third place that year was his ninth consecutive podium finish to open his Formula One career.

His drive a year later was peerless. Hamilton turned in a virtuoso performance in the water-logged 2008 British Grand Prix – a race where his new McLaren teammate Heikki Kovalainen had scored the pole – but Hamilton stormed away from the off. He won by more than one minute and lapped up to third-placed Rubens Barrichello.

Unfortunately Hamilton didn’t have the chance to repeat his heroics in 2009 as McLaren was in its worst stretch of the year with an ill-handling race car. He was second in 2010 and fourth in 2011 but like teammate Jenson Button, struggled a year ago and ended only eighth.

Now, he’s got the car that has showcased superior one-lap pace over the rest of the field in the Mercedes W04. As ever though, Hamilton’s challenge will be sustaining the pace over the stints and managing the fall-off. You can see how he fares on Sunday at 7:30 a.m. ET, on CNBC.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”