Lewis Hamilton must end his losing streak at British Grand Prix – Damon Hill

Lewis Hamilton must end his losing streak at this weekend’s British Grand Prix to stop Max Verstappen from executing a championship rout.

That is the verdict of Damon Hill, the 1996 world champion, as Hamilton’s bid for a record-breaking eighth title faces another stern examination in front of 140,000 fans – the biggest UK crowd of the Covid-19 era – at Silverstone on Sunday.

Hamilton has excelled on home turf in recent seasons, taking the chequered flag in six of his past eight appearances.

But it is more than two months since he last won a race – the Spanish Grand Prix on May 9 – with Verstappen and his in-form Red Bull team threatening to run away with the title.

Last time out in Austria, Verstappen delivered a crushing one-sided display to claim his fourth win in five, and extend his championship lead over Hamilton to 32 points.

“Something has to swing Lewis’ way for it not to look like it is going to be a rout by Red Bull and Max Verstappen,” said Hill, speaking in his role as a pundit for Sky Sports.

“Mercedes have got some updates coming and typically Silverstone has been a good circuit for them. Lewis is not going to give up easily, but he needs a good result this weekend. I think he is going to get it.”

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Hamilton, 36, has largely been in a class of one during Mercedes’ era of unprecedented dominance.

But the Silver Arrows, winners of the past seven drivers’ and constructors’ championships, are no longer the cream of the crop with the combination of Verstappen and Red Bull proving almost untouchable.

Hamilton and Verstappen have traded positions on a number of occasions this season, but the Briton had no answer for his rival at the past two rounds.

However, Mercedes will bring a series of planned upgrades to Silverstone which they hope will allow Hamilton to challenge Verstappen in front of a partisan crowd after last year’s British and 70th Anniversary Grands Prix at the Northamptonshire circuit were closed to spectators.

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“In the past years, we knew it was going to be a Mercedes championship and probably Lewis Hamilton’s championship after just three or four races,” said Jenson Button, the 2009 title winner. “But this year, he has a challenge on his hands.

“I know Lewis is behind Max in the championship but he will be fighting him later in the year and Silverstone is a circuit where Mercedes’ car works well.

“Lewis is enjoying the fight with someone. He knows how talented Max is, and it is keeping him interested in Formula One and it is probably why he has just signed a new contract for two more years.”

Away from Hamilton’s battle with Verstappen, history will be made at Silverstone when the sport’s first sprint race takes place.

The race – a third distance of a grand prix – will replace qualifying on Saturday and determine the grid for Sunday’s main event. The top three will score points which will count towards the championship.

The format will be trialled at two additional rounds this year in a move F1 bosses hope will spice up the weekend action.