Lewis Hamilton’s charge to pole position at Silverstone in Saturday’s Formula 1 qualifying session for the British Grand Prix acted as the latest twist in a strange week for the sport.
Having announced and held a groundbreaking demonstration in the very heart of London earlier this week, F1 was dealt a blow when Silverstone confirmed it would be breaking its current contract after 2019 to host the British Grand Prix.
Hamilton, meanwhile, came under fire for being the only current driver to have missed the London showcase, only to then send the home crowd into raptures with a remarkable final lap in qualifying on Saturday.
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Here’s what to watch for in today’s race from Silverstone.
2017 British Grand Prix – What to watch for
Hamilton chases fifth home win
Lewis Hamilton may have scored a PR own-goal earlier this week by missing the live event in London, but his on-track exploits have done much to impress the baying crowd at Silverstone so far this week.
Hamilton’s continued success has put more and more records in his sights, and a fifth win at Silverstone on Sunday would tie him up with Jim Clark and Alain Prost for the all-time record.
Hamilton looked imperious through qualifying, so if can channel the home support in the same kind of way on Sunday, it would be a massive result for his championship bid.
Ferrari hopes to make numbers count
Ferrari may have struggled to match Mercedes’ pace through Friday practice or qualifying, but it heads into Sunday’s race with one key advantage: numbers.
Following Valtteri Bottas’ grid penalty for a gearbox change, Hamilton will have to fend off the Scuderia by himself at the front. Kimi Raikkonen starts second on Sunday ahead of Sebastian Vettel in P3.
Ferrari has traditionally gone stronger in the races so far this season than qualifying, giving Vettel some hope that he can rain on Hamilton’s parade and extend his championship lead.
Bottas, Ricciardo plot fightbacks from grid penalties
Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo have been two of F1’s in-form racers recently, yet both have a challenge to continue their good recent record after being hit with grid penalties at Silverstone for gearbox changes.
Bottas drops from P4 to P9 on the grid, giving him a challenge to battle back through the midfield and rejoin the Mercedes/Ferrari train ot front, while Ricciardo will start P19 after a turbo issue in qualifying forced him out in Q1.
The high-speed 2017 cars have been spectacular to watch so far this weekend at Silverstone. Seeing them pick their way back through the field should be particularly exciting to watch.
Genuine hope for McLaren at home?
McLaren has not won the British Grand Prix since 2008, and while that is highly unlikely to change today, the team does head into the race with some genuine hope that it could hit the points.
The ‘Spec 3’ Honda power unit upgrade has offered a noticeable step forward in terms of performance, allowing Stoffel Vandoorne to partake in Q3 for the first time this season on Saturday.
The Belgian will start the race eighth on the grid, while teammate Fernando Alonso faces his usual challenge of recovering from the back of the field after grid penalties for power unit changes.
Strangely though, at a high-speed circuit where power matters, things may not be so bleak for McLaren.
2017 British Grand Prix – Starting Grid
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
3. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
4. Max Verstappen Red Bull
5. Nico Hulkenberg Renault
6. Sergio Perez Force India
7. Esteban Ocon Force India
8. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren
9. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes*
10. Romain Grosjean Haas
11. Jolyon Palmer Renault
12. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
13. Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso
14. Felipe Massa Williams
15. Lance Stroll Williams
16. Kevin Magnussen Haas
17. Pascal Wehrlein Sauber
18. Marcus Ericsson Sauber
19. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull**
20. Fernando Alonso Red Bull***
* Valtteri Bottas received a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.
** Daniel Ricciardo received a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.
*** Fernando Alonso received a 30-place grid penalty for multiple power unit changes.