What to watch for: British Grand Prix (7:30am ET on CNBC and Live Extra)

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In a time of dwindling track attendances and widespread negativity in Formula 1, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone is the exception to the rule.

After over 100,000 people came out for qualifying on Saturday, the figure is expected to tip over 140,000 on race day as the track becomes a swathe of red, white and blue.

A good chunk of the fans will be cheering on defending world champion Lewis Hamilton, who goes in search of his third British Grand Prix victory on Sunday from pole position.

The Briton edged out Mercedes teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg for P1 on Saturday, but with the German alongside him on the front row, the stage is set for a thrilling battle.

Here are a few storylines to keep an eye out for on Sunday.

HAMILTON’S HISTORY HUNT

Few drivers have captured the British audience like Lewis Hamilton has. With two wins at Silverstone under his belt, he now has a chance to win a third on Sunday and draw level with Jim Clark and Nigel Mansell for the most home victories at Silverstone.

The debate about the greatest British driver in F1 history is already one most deem to be over. Only Clark and Jackie Stewart can really compare with Hamilton. A third win for Lewis today would only further his argument to be known as Britain’s best.

Also note that his previous Silverstone wins came in 2008 and 2014 – the same years he went on to become world champion.

ROSBERG CHASES AUSTRIA REPEAT

Heading into qualifying on Saturday, Hamilton appeared to lack the rhythm required to score pole position. All eyes were on Rosberg to see if he could upset the home favorite. Ultimately, he fell a tenth short.

It was the same story in Austria, though. Rosberg dominated practice, Hamilton took pole, only for Nico to then seize the lead at turn one and dominate the race.

This time around, it may be a bigger challenge. Hamilton has reverted back to his old clutch setting that was causing him gripe, and the opening complex of corners at Silverstone would allow their fight to rage on throughout the first lap. It’s a mouth-watering prospect.

FERRARI THIRD BEST?

We’re still waiting on Ferrari’s big step forward, it seems. The engine upgrade introduced in Canada is yet to bear fruit, and at Silverstone on Saturday, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel ailed to P5 and P6 on the grid behind both Williams drivers.

Both drivers are confident that no ground has been lost to Mercedes and that they’ll be able to recover the positions in the race, but if Williams plays tactical, it could use either Felipe Massa or Valtteri Bottas as a rear gunner.

Perhaps the more intriguing fight would be between the two Finns, Raikkonen and Bottas. Ferrari is rumored to be lining up the latter as Kimi’s replacement, with reports in Italy suggesting that the Iceman has until the end of July to save his seat. Game on.

DAMAGE LIMITATION FOR RED BULL

After struggling at its home grand prix, Red Bull has shown a few more signs of life at Silverstone this weekend. Daniil Kvyat nearly beat the Ferrari drivers in qualifying, whilst Daniel Ricciardo would have been higher than P10 on the grid had his times not been deleted.

Once again though, it appears that Sunday will be a question of damage limitation. With Force India and Toro Rosso looking quick, the team will need to pick up what points it can.

As a final curveball, rumors of a possible tie-in with Aston Martin Racing emerged last night. Expect team principal Christian Horner to face a few questions on Sunday.

WHAT OF McLAREN?

At the beginning of the season, McLaren’s struggles were tolerated. “The team is still getting to grips with Honda,” we said. “It’ll get back to the top.”

We’re almost at the halfway point of the season, and still we’re saying the same thing. The novelty has worn off. The positivity from the teams appears to be more feigned than ever.

To qualify 17th and 18th at its home grand prix was nothing short of embarrassing for McLaren. Let’s see what the race brings on Sunday. Frankly, getting both cars to the finish would be an achievement.

STARTING GRID FOR THE 2015 BRITISH GRAND PRIX

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Felipe Massa Williams
4. Valtteri Bottas Williams
5. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
6. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
7. Daniil Kvyat Red Bull
8. Carlos Sainz Jr Toro Rosso
9. Nico Hulkenberg Force India
10. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
11. Sergio Perez Force India
12. Romain Grosjean Lotus
13. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso
14. Pastor Maldonado Lotus
15. Marcus Ericsson Sauber
16. Felipe Nasr Sauber
17. Fernando Alonso McLaren
18. Jenson Button McLaren
19. Will Stevens Manor
20. Roberto Merhi Manor

The British Grand Prix is live on CNBC and Live Extra from 7:30am ET on Sunday. Lights out is at 8am.