2015 British Grand Prix Preview

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As races in Formula 1 go, few can boast the heritage or the popularity of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Since hosting the first ever world championship grand prix back in 1950, Silverstone has diced with extinction and losing its position as host even as recently as 2010, when the race was due to move to Donington Park.

However, since undergoing redevelopment and redesign, it is once again up there with the likes of Monza and Monaco as legendary circuits that the sport must do everything in its power to preserve.

140,000 fans are expected to come out this weekend to see home favorite Lewis Hamilton fight for a third British Grand Prix victory following successes in 2008 and 2014 (pictured).

However, the momentum currently lies with Mercedes teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg. The German driver has won three of the last four grands prix, with his best of the season coming in Austria two weeks ago as he outclassed Hamilton to win comfortably.

With the battle hotting up – quite literally – just behind and a number of upgrades due at Silverstone this weekend, there are plenty of talking points for the 2015 British Grand Prix.

2015 British Grand Prix – Talking Points

Hamilton’s homecoming

For Lewis Hamilton, this weekend is arguably the most important of his season. The British fans are unlike any others, coming out in droves to cheer on the world champion and compatriots Jenson Button and Will Stevens.

With Rosberg lacking a home race in 2015, this weekend could be a big psychological victory for Hamilton if he can win convincingly. That said, it could also mark something of a bitter defeat if Rosberg were to claim his second win at Silverstone, leaving the pressure squarely on the shoulders of the British driver for his homecoming.

Redemption for Rosberg?

A mistake by Hamilton in last year’s wet qualifying session handed Nico Rosberg a golden opportunity to win at Silverstone, only for a gearbox problem to force him to retire when leading comfortably.

This year, the German driver will be hoping to make up for this disappointment by scoring a victory that would take him to within three points of Hamilton at the top of the drivers’ championship.

With three wins in the past four races and his mindset now fixed, it would be foolish to rule Rosberg out of the running for the race win this weekend.

Keep it cool

The British Grand Prix is typically known for one thing: rain. Actually, that probably applies to Britain as a whole.

But not this weekend. Something of a heatwave is currently hitting Britain, with temperatures soaring to 36.7ºC (98ºF) at Heathrow Airport on Wednesday, making it the hottest July day ever. Although temperatures have cooled a little at Silverstone on Thursday, the heat is expected to return for the three days of on-track running.

We know that Ferrari has fared very well in hot conditions so far this season, and it will be intriguing to see how the Italian marque runs at Silverstone. Could another opportunity present itself like it did in Malaysia?

Force India’s B-spec car gets ready to race

After a successful running of its B-spec version of the VJM08 car in Austria during testing, Force India will finally race its long-awaited updated model this weekend at Silverstone.

The team was unable to make any notable changes to its car in Spain two months ago like the rest of the field, yet it has still managed to keep ahead of the curve and remain fifth in the constructors’ championship, scoring its best result of the year in Austria.

If the upgrades provide the pace improvement that is expected, could Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg take Force India above Red Bull in the coming races? Time will tell.

More misery for McLaren?

McLaren’s Austrian Grand Prix weekend was one to forget. After amassing 50 places worth of grid penalties, both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button retired in the first nine laps of the race as the team failed to score points for the seventh time in eight races.

It’s unlikely that the British Grand Prix will bring too much of a breakthrough for McLaren, but the team did complete some solid running in Austria last week that should aid its progression.

Button came close to picking up his first podium finish at Silverstone last year, finishing fourth. With a repeat result off the cards this time around, he will instead be focusing on doing all he can to give his home fans something to smile about.

2015 British Grand Prix – Facts and Figures

Track: Silverstone
Laps: 52
Corners: 18
Lap Record: Mark Webber 1:33.401 (Red Bull, 2013)
Tire Compounds: Medium (Option); Hard (Prime)
2014 Winner: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2014 Pole Position: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:29.607
2014 Fastest Lap: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:37.176
DRS Zones: Wellington Straight (T5 to T6); Hangar Straight (T14 to T15)

2015 British Grand Prix – TV Times

Free Practice 1: NBC Sports Live Extra 5am ET 7/3
Free Practice 2: NBCSN 9am ET 7/3
Free Practice 3: NBC Sports Live Extra 5am ET 7/4
Qualifying: CNBC 8am ET 7/4
Race: CNBC 7:30am ET 7/5 (encore on NBCSN at 12pm ET)

For further information on our British Grand Prix broadcasts, click here.

Tom Blomqvist keeps eye on IndyCar during impressive rise: ‘ I would love to give it a go’

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In between two of his latest superstar-driver-in-waiting performances, Tom Blomqvist walked through the Daytona International Speedway garage in anonymity.

“Nobody knows who the (expletive) I am,” he said to a team member with a laugh (and without a trace of being miffed), evincing the cheeky humor of someone born in England, raised in New Zealand and also of Swedish descent.

The lack of recognition in the garage might have been because he was clad in a relatively nondescript shirt, hat and sunglasses instead of a colorful firesuit covered by sponsor logos. But he also was on the way to a Friday race eve media availability where his entrance was greeted by only one reporter (after a few minutes).

During a news conference a day earlier, he sat patiently on the dais while his Indy 500-winning teammates and car owner fielded nearly all the questions – even though Blomqvist had turned maybe the most impressive lap of the month to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole position in the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category.

The Meyer Shank Racing driver still might lack the attention commensurate with his already world-class CV (which expanded Sunday with his second consecutive Rolex 24  victory for MSR), but Blomqvist, 29, clearly isn’t bothered by it.

He carries the quiet confidence of knowing his immense talent will ensure results that will make him impossible to ignore.

“To a degree, I guess, it’s definitely ramped up a lot for me,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports. “In America, I’m starting to get a lot more (attention). In the last year, I’ve quite often got a lot of maybe what you’d call the glory moments. It’s been fun. And within the paddock, there’s a lot of respect for me anyway. It’s been good.”

There have been several moments of acclaim since he joined MSR barely a year ago in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. In his first start for the team at last year’s Rolex 24, Blomqvist turned in a Herculean performance to position the No. 60 Acura for the victory (giving way to Helio Castroneves because he was too “cooked” to complete the last 74 minutes).

He was even better this year at Daytona.

He ripped off a monster “one and done” pole-winning lap to beat the clock in qualifying on the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course. During the race, Blomqvist was as dominant in his first stint as his last in the ARX-06 while taking the checkered flag. He set the mark for the fastest time on Lap 6 that no one topped over the final 755 laps.

The 10 fastest laps in the race belonged to Blomqvist, carrying over his speed from the 2022 when he won the Petit Le Mans season finale to clinch the premier prototype championship at Michelin Road Atlanta.

A year earlier at the same track, he had burst onto the radar of car owner Mike Shank, who was intrigued by Blomqvist’s results as a BMW factory driver in the Formula E and DTM series. In 2014, Blomqvist also finished between second in F3, between champion Esteban Ocon (now with Alpine’s F1 team) and Max Verstappen (who has won the past two Formula One championships).

“He did a lot of high-level stuff, and then kind of fell out of favor, or I don’t know what happened, but he was a free agent,” Shank said. “I started looking at his numbers, and I’m like, ‘We should test this guy. So I take him to Road Atlanta in the fall of ’21, and he got in the car and just slayed it.”

Within minutes, he had called co-owner Jim Meyer.

“I’ve got our guy,” Shank said. “This is our guy. There’s no question about it.

Honda Performance Development president David Salters hugs Tom Blomqvist after the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).

“Now what’s happened, though, and I think if you look back at the Rolex here last year (and) what he did, he’s a gold nugget. He reminds me a little bit when (Robert) Wickens came into IndyCar out of DTM (as a rookie in 2018).

“He truly believes he’s the fastest guy out there, and he proved it (at the Rolex 24).”

Said David Salters, president for Honda Performance Development: “We love Tom. He’s the real deal, isn’t he? Immensely talented, super smart, and on it.

The great thing about our teams, the strength in depth is tremendous. But if you look through the sports car racing now, that’s the standard you have to have. Tom, brilliant, Filipe (Albuquerque), brilliant. Ricky (Taylor). You can go through that list. They’re all superstars. Tom is awesome. His lap in qualifying quite frankly was unbelievable.”


Having conquered one of the world’s greatest endurance races twice with Acura, Blomqvist could be ticketed for the world’s biggest race next – the Indy 500 — with HPD’s primary brand.

He tested a Dallara-Honda for MSR last October at Sebring International Raceway, and while he plans to focus solely on IMSA this season, he remains very intrigued by IndyCar.

And with Castroneves, 47, beginning a one-year deal with MSR’s IndyCar team, there could be an obvious opening in 2024.

“Obviously, it’s not in the cards this year,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports the day before the Rolex. “Yeah, I would love to give it a go. To be honest, I think that would be an amazing step for me in my career. I enjoy the sports car stuff so much. It’s been really good to me lately. I really enjoyed the style of racing.

“But I feel like IndyCar would be a step up for me and my career. It would be fantastic if I could get that opportunity. But yeah, I guess I have to keep pushing Mike or something to give me a shot. But obviously for now, the focus is here in the sports car stuff. It’s not really down to me at the end of the day. And I’ve got to do my job and then the people who pay the bills and make the decisions obviously have to decide if that’s something worth pursuing.

“But yeah, I’d love to give it a go, and I definitely would be up for it.”

Tom Blomqvist after winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole on the final qualifying lap (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).

A transition from IMSA to IndyCar naturally would be easier than switching teams, but it also would be comfortable because Blomqvist already seems such a good fit at MSR.

It might have seemed an unusual pairing given his European-heavy background, but Blomqvist likes the Midwestern culture that’s been built at MSR. Based just outside Columbus, Ohio, the team’s shop has “no egos, and that just enables each and every one of to reach our potential.

“Obviously, with Honda, we obviously have some great resources, but we’re up against Porsche, BMW and some big heavy hitters in the motorsports world,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we’ve got a huge team compared to them, but we’ve obviously got a very capable team, and I think that’s what has been so impressive and really, really nice to see about the work that’s been done. No stone has been left unturned.”


Blomqvist still is living in Europe and planning to commute for the nine-race GTP schedule (which has a nearly two-month break after the Rolex 24 until the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring). But though he’s “got good friends in America, so I do have places to stay,” he seems open to being based more permanently near MSR in America.

“Let’s see what the future brings, and if that means me spending more time over here,” he said. “It’s a fantastic team. It’s a different environment to what I’m used to. It’s obviously now a hugely successful team, but it is a small team. It does feel like a very small family-operated team, which it is.

“I think Mike’s really just built this thing. It hasn’t happened overnight. Mike’s a great guy and put a lot of trust and faith in me, and I played a relatively good part in some of the success last year. I was able to reward him and give him my all every time I’m on track, and he respects that. But we are still a small team. In the grand scheme of things, we still are a really, really small team.”

Blomqvist said the BMW factory program would have two or three times the staffing of MSR – just on one of its two GTP cars.

“But it’s not the number of people that makes a difference, it’s the quality of people, and obviously Mike and HPD are a fantastic operation to go racing,” Blomqvist said. “We’re racers at heart.

“I’ve been part of some big outfits, and the European way of working is very, very different to how people go about racing in America. I’d say it’s more seat of your pants. A lot of emotion and kind of rides on that competitive spirt, competitive nature and on their personalities. It’s a lot more pure. It feels very pure. You want to win, so we go out and don’t cut corners on trying to win.”

Though it’s aligned with Liberty Media and has big-budget backing and support from Honda Performance Development, MSR also is much less corporate than most GTP teams.

A longtime and respected team owner who has built a sponsor portfolio, Shank also describes his maniacal dedication to success as “messed up,” and he’s known for dropping vulgarities into postrace interview with his blunt and self-deprecating sense of humor.

Meyer Shank Racing co-owner Mike Shank congratulates Tom Blomqvist on the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole position (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).

With a more laid-back but sometimes just as biting demeanor, Blomqvist has become the team’s unquestioned leader behind the wheel

“I definitely feel a lot more immersed,” he said. “Within the team, I was a bit more of an unknown quantity the start of last year. Obviously after last season, the team trusts me a lot. And that gives me a lot of pleasure, pride and confidence. In this sport, confidence is a huge aspect of drivers’ psychology in a way. We’re in extremely high-pressure moments where my job is to perform under the pressure of these organizations and the brand as well.

“It’s just a good, healthy team to be a part of. It’s a high-pressure environment, but the team obviously have put a lot of faith in me, and I’ve been able to deliver for them on occasions.”

Rolex 24 starting lineup
Tom Blomqvist celebrates after winning the pole in the No. 60 Acura ARX-06 (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).