British Grand Prix Preview – Can Anyone Stop the Verstappen Juggernaut?

This weekends marks one of those rare occasions in British sport.

It is Round 10 of the 2023 Formula One World Championship as the British Grand Prix rolls into Silverstone. The Wimbledon Tennis Tournament is in full swing and the third Test Ashes Test between England and Australia will be on Day Four at Headingley.

The last time those three sports collided on the same day in Great Britain was 2019, where Lewis Hamilton won the Grand Prix in another all conquering, England won the Cricket World Cup “by the barest of margins” and Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer in a thriller in SW19.

Verstappen juggernaut rolls on.

12 months ago it looked as if Verstappen would take a comfortable victory after passing Charles Leclerc for the lead during the race.

That was until he ran over a piece of debris caused by Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly, before Ferrari left Charles Leclerc to fend for himself after a Safety Car allowing Carlos Sainz to win his first career Grand Prix.

As with 2019, 2023 has a dominant team and one dominant driver, as Hamilton was cruising to the sixth of his seven World Drivers’ Championships, while this season Max Verstappen can pick and choose the races he attends and he will still be the Drivers’ Champion for a third time.

It is a question of when, not if he wins the World Championship and inevitably Verstappen is the hot favourite to win his eighth race of the season, and keep Red Bull’s 100% record in 2023 going.

The Dutchman has won the last five Grands Prix and lies 81 points – over three race victories – clear of Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez.

The fight behind Red Bull.

The real fight is behind them, with three teams vying to be the best of the rest.

Mercedes currently have that honour with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell consistently banking points.

The Silver Arrows are three points clear of Aston Martin – largely as a result of Lance Stroll’s struggles to match teammate Fernando Alonso for the Silverstone team.

The Spaniard is himself just 18 points behind Perez in third but, as with the cricket, it is very difficult to see the home side managing an unlikely series victory this weekend.

The third team fighting for the best of the rest is Ferrari, who have had something of a renaissance themselves over the last two races with a well managed fourth and fifth in Canada, before Charles Leclerc took an excellent second place in Austria last week.

McLaren, sporting a throwback Chrome livery in a nod to their history this weekend, will be looking to build on a strong weekend for Lando Norris who took fourth in Austria, as their season of catch up continues.

Track Limits?!

As yes, track limits.

Last weekend saw a farcical 1,200 instances of drivers losing lap times for exceeding track limits, largely at the final corner around the 2.7 mile Red Bull Ring.

Track limits will be monitored at Copse Corner, or Turn 9 depending on who you are, but we can expect minimal impact as the layout at Silverstone’s former first corner is different, and crucially a lot less awkward, than the final corner in Spielberg.

Don’t expect to see eight drivers affected by track limit penalties, five hours after the race this weekend.

What else should I look out for?

Well…. the battle at the bottom.

With McLaren and Alpine in fifth and sixth in the Constructors cut well adrift from the top four, four teams at the bottom are separated by nine points.

Haas and in particular Nico Hulkenberg benefitted from a wet-dry sprint qualifying, and race, to nick sixth place and three points as more established teams fell over themselves on Saturday to lift themselves up to seventh in standings with 11 points.

They’re two points clear of Alfa Romeo on nine, with the team run by Sauber having failed to push on from a strong 2022 to sit just two points clear of a resurgent Williams team.

Their team principal James Vowles has warned that progress will be slow, but despite this the team, courtesy of Alex Albon, have been genuine points contenders ever since a raft of upgrades were introduced at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Rookie Logan Sargent will finally be able to access those this week, as the team look to celebrate 800 races in style.

At the bottom of the pile, Alpha Tauri’s miserable season continues with Nyck de Vries seemingly unable to get close to scoring points, while Yuki Tsunoda has two points.

Dr Vries has been the subject of speculation over his future in his debut season in the sport, with Red Bull driver supremo recently suggesting that Red Bull team principal Christian Horner “maybe was right” in his opposition to signing the Dutchman.

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