5 Talking Points ahead of the British Grand Prix

The Formula One roadshow moves to Silverstone this weekend for the British Grand Prix, the first of back-to-back races at the Northamptonshire circuit.

They will be the fourth and fifth grands prix of the much-delayed season, but though it is still early in the campaign, clear patterns have already been set in the opening triple-header in Austria and Hungrary.

Here the PA news agency looks at the key talking points ahead of the British Grand Prix.

Hamilton on top

Lewis Hamilton tops Sunday Times Rich List among active sports stars
Lewis Hamilton tops Sunday Times Rich List among active sports stars

Victory in Hungary last weekend saw Lewis Hamilton overhaul team-mate Valtteri Bottas at the top of the drivers’ standings, and given Mercedes’ total dominance of the opening three races, few will be betting against the six-time world champion delivering a seventh career Silverstone victory. The gap between Mercedes and the rest only appears to have grown in 2020, with the Silver Arrows having piled up more than twice as many points as closest competitors Red Bull already. Team principal Toto Wolff has even been forced to defend the team against charges of making the sport too predictable. “It is not up to the team that has made steps to be seen as responsible for the predictability of the championship,” he said.

Ferrari slump set to continue

Formula One Pre-Season Testing – Day Two – Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya
Formula One Pre-Season Testing – Day Two – Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen is doing his best to ensure Mercedes face some sort of race at the front, but where Ferrari might be expected to be in the mix for victories they are instead way off the pace and facing an internal crisis. Charles LeClerc’s second place in the season opener in Austria was more a result of the chaos around him than genuine performance, and after the dismal double retirement in the second race, both cars were lapped in Hungary last time out. Now Ferrari chairman John Elkann has warned Ferrari may need to wait until the next set of rule changes in 2022 to challenge again. “The reality is that our car is not competitive,” he said. “You saw it on the track and you will see it again.”

Vettel in the spotlight

Sebastian Vettel File Photo
Sebastian Vettel File Photo

Four-time world champion Vettel remains without a drive for next season but speculation is starting to hot up over his next move after he insisted he has no thoughts of retirement. Racing Point have emerged as candidates for his signature – an intriguing possibility given their competitiveness that has drawn envious and accusatory glances from elsewhere so far this season. There is no vacancy as such in the team, but reports suggest Sergio Perez – contracted until 2022 – could be dropped in order to accommodate Vettel. It would be a big call, so there will be plenty of focus on how the two drivers compare in the coming weeks.

Anti-racism protest

Formula One will organise an anti-racism protest before Sunday’s race following weeks of criticism over its handling of the issue. Hamilton has accused both F1 and the FIA of a lack of leadership, saying the issue had “gone off the agenda” after a demonstration prior to the season-opening race in Austria. This weekend, time will be allotted in the pre-race schedule for drivers to assemble, and they can decide individually what actions they want to take.

Intense schedule

Our weekends plans sorted through to November 🗓#F1pic.twitter.com/AvHYd3UhCc

— Formula 1 (@F1) July 24, 2020

Drivers and teams may have enjoyed last weekend off, but Sunday’s race is the start of a second consecutive triple-header, with a race in Barcelona due to follow next weekend’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix – assuming the situation in Spain does not worsen to such a degree that Formula One is forced to change its plans. As good as that has been for fans hungry to catch up after the long wait for racing to start, McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl has said it is unsustainable in the long run. “This cannot be the new standard going forward also in future seasons,” he said.