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.

Here’s who were picking to win the Indy 500 — who are YOU picking?

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Several members of the NBC Sports motorsports staff have made their predictions on who will win Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Of the six voters, two are going with 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden, while two others are going with Helio Castroneves to win a fourth 500, which would tie him with A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.

Here’s our picks. Who are YOU picking?

Leigh Diffey: Helio Castroneves — He drives the place better than anyone else. For me (for what its worth) he deserves a fourth 500 ring for the frustration he went through never getting the IndyCar title!

Townsend Bell: Josef Newgarden

Nate Ryan: Simon Pagenaud — All of his 2018 misfortune on the track has disappeared in May, and it culminates in the biggest victory of his career.

Jerry Bonkowski: Helio Castroneves – There’s no pressure as he pursues his fourth Indy 500 win. All Helio has to do, as late NFL owner Al Davis would say, is “Just win, baby!” (But if Helio falls short, watch for Marco Andretti)

Kyle Lavigne: Josef Newgarden — I think he has everything he needs to get it done this year.

Dan Beaver: Robert Wickens – Has driven like anything except a rookie and his second-place finish at Phoenix proves he’s just as good on an oval as the road courses.

Follow: Jerry Bonkowski