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.

Marvin Musquin’s Indy win may have come too late

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Marvin Musquin answered one question at Indianapolis last week, but the biggest one may well plague him for the next six weeks.

Musquin has won a battle, but can he win the war?

After standing on the podium in eight of the first 10 races, Musquin finally showed the field he was capable of winning in Indy when he grabbed the holeshot and led every lap on the way to Victory Lane. He was never seriously challenged and it was the Musquin that Supercross fans expected to see all season.

It was a long time coming. Musquin must have felt like victory was just around the corner after finishing second in the overall standings in Anaheim II’s Triple Crown race. He was third in the first Main that night and second in the last two Mains.

As it turned out, that single race defined his season until last week. Musquin stood on the podium all night, but he finished two spots behind Cooper Webb in the first Main and was one spot back in the second. It was only as time ran out that he was able to beat Webb by a single spot in the third Main. If Musquin had won either of the first two Mains, he would have had the overall victory – denying Webb his first career win in the process.

Webb’s Anaheim win revitalized the rider and gave him the confidence to rattle off four more wins in the next seven races.

Meanwhile, Musquin scored podium finishes in the next seven races, making him almost perfect. In another season, a record like that would have been enough to give him a comfortable points lead. In 2019, he sit 14 markers out of first, which is the points’ equivalent of the difference between first and 11th in one race. In other words, Webb cannot lose the points lead at Seattle unless he finishes outside the top 10 while his teammate wins.

Looking at the numbers another way the scenario is not quite as hopeless. Musquin needs to shave only 2.3 points off Webb’s lead each week to win the championship. Three points separate first and second. Five points differentiates first from third, which is where Webb finished in Indianapolis. Webb is vulnerable as his 10th-place finish at Glendale and an eighth at San Diego attest.

Those bobbles came early and Webb seems to have forgotten how to make a mistake.

A third-place is Webb’s worst finish in the last six weeks and since Anaheim II when Musquin started his impressive string of podium finishes, Webb has recorded an average finish of 2.2. That came with a worst finish of eighth on an extremely muddy and heavy track in San Diego. Musquin has a worst finish of only sixth, but his average of 2.8 still lags behind Webb.

Worse still, since Anaheim II Musquin has finished behind Webb in every race except for the outlier of San Diego.

It is no longer a question of keeping pressure on Webb. Musquin cannot expect his teammate to make a mistake; he has to find a way to pass him on the track. If Webb adds only two points to his lead at Seattle, Musquin’s fate would no longer be in his hands. He would need to gain 3.2 points per race. With that scenario, Webb could finish one spot behind Musquin every week and still win the championship.