Lewis Hamilton will be aiming to celebrate a record-extending seventh British Grand Prix win on Sunday but the F1 leader will be doing none of the usual crowd-surfing after what may be the most unusual home race of his career.
The second triple-header of a pandemic-hit season will be in front of empty grandstands behind closed doors at Silverstone.
The circuit will host two races on successive weekends for the first time, the second as the 70th anniversary race, but Hamilton’s legion of flag-waving fans will have to cheer him on from their homes.
“The British Grand Prix is the best grand prix, particularly because of the fans, the thousands that turn up and really create the spectacle,” said the six-time world champion. “So it’s going to be super-weird.”
Mercedes have been dominant once again this season, with Hamilton now on for a hat-trick of wins after victories in Austria’s Styrian Grand Prix and Hungary, while team-mate Valtteri Bottas won the opener at the Red Bull Ring.
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The duo have also been alone on pole so far and the Silverstone circuit should suit their car, but team boss Toto Wolff is taking nothing for granted.
“We’ve had a good start to the season: we resolved the issues that troubled us on the first weekend, won three out of three races and scored a good amount of points,” said the Austrian.
“But the first three races have also highlighted another crucial factor: the importance of reliability in this shortened season.
“We’re one of only two teams that have finished all races with both cars this year and we know how quickly a DNF (no-finish) can make a lead in the points disappear.”
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Hamilton is five points clear of Bottas in the standings and 30 ahead of third-placed Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who has been on the podium in the last two races.
“We know the areas we need to work on and with Silverstone being a home race close to the factory, that’s good news,” said the Dutch star.
“I think we can hopefully get a good result there, historically it’s been a pretty good track for the team, and it’s one I really enjoy driving.”
The British Grand Prix predictions below have been provided by the Betfair Exchange.
The figures shown are based on how people have been betting on the F1 market.
Betfair spokesperson Darren Hughes said: “The F1 circuit finally returns to Britain this weekend, as the British Grand Prix takes place at Silverstone.
“As expected, Lewis Hamilton is the hot favourite, with a 66% chance of following up his victory in Hungary last time out according to Betfair Exchange, with his Mercedes team-mate Valterri Bottas his nearest rival at 23%.
“It was, however, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen that filled the second spot on the podium last weekend instead of Bottas, and the Belgian whizz-kid has a 7% chance of going one better this weekend according to Betfair Exchange, as the rest of the F1 teams struggle to break the Mercedes stranglehold at the top.”
To find out more about the Betfair Exchange head to: https://betting.betfair.com/how-to-use-betfair-exchange