After what feels like forever, we’re all starting to emerge from the safety of our covid lockdown bubbles, and looking forward to the gradual relaxation of the rules, ahead of what will be hopefully be a summer of happiness. The past year has seen many events cancelled or even held behind closed doors, including the 2020 Formula 1 season, where the number of races was cut from 22 to 17. With the 2021 F1 season off to a blast, we’re sure you’ve already pencilled in one of the most exciting British sporting weekends of the year, 16th-18th July, for the Silverstone Grand Prix, an event that fans will be allowed to attend in safe conditions.
Back To The Track
Silverstone is the biggest event in the British motoring sport calendar, but in 2020, it was rather a subdued affair. There were major doubts as to whether it would be able to go ahead, safety measures were implemented as a result of the pandemic and the race was delayed until August. On the track, it was a fantastic homecoming for Lewis Hamilton, who shares a special relationship with the circuit having gone to watch Nigel Mansell there in his childhood. His first taste of Silverstone success came back in only his second professional season, 2008, and in 2020 he returned to claim the win once more, his seventh in 14 seasons. This helped push him on to the world title – the seventh, so far – to tie with Michael Schumacher’s record, and to surpass the German great’s number of career podium finishes.
Hamilton’s 2021 return to the Silverstone Grand Prix should see him given a hero’s welcome following his landmark 2020. Not only will the crowd be roaring him on, but his career achievements have seen him gain recognition from the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC), who renamed Silverstone’s International Pits Straight as the Hamilton Straight, to honour the speedster from Stevenage.
F1 2021 will also make history at Silverstone by becoming the first event to trial the Sprint Qualifying format. This offers a new dimension of even more speed to proceedings, with drivers taking to the track again after the first free practice run on the Friday, to compete on a stretch of 1/3 of the circuit. The results of this will be used for the sprint standings on the grid on Saturday, with the positions on Sunday’s grid being decided following this stage. Points will also be awarded to the podium positions, with the winner earning three, second place gaining two and third given one point. This new development rewards those who are quickest off the mark, and will offer more excitement for fans.
In the F1 2021 season, Hamilton has followed on from where he left off in 2020, and been the man to beat yet again. With three races gone, things are starting to be mapped out in a fairly familiar fashion, with the Brit’s Mercedes taking top spot in Bahrain and Portugal, and then slipping to second in Italy.
The Young Contenders
The only man to stand above Hamilton on the podium in 2021 has been Red Bull Racing Honda’s Max Verstappen, when the Dutchman claimed victory at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in North East Italy. The 23 year old has finished as a runner up twice to Hamilton in his other races this year, and will certainly be seen as his biggest threat. He finished the 2020 season in a career’s high third place, including a notable victory in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix. This was a one-off F1 event that was held at Silverstone the weekend after the British Grand Prix. It was a feat that saw him become the first Red Bull driver since 2012 to taste victory there, while it was also an iconic event for technology, marking a maiden first place in a 1.6l V6 turbo hybrid engine. With this experience behind him and following his prodigious start to his professional career, he will want to emulate Hamilton and win world titles.
Another young driver who will be looking to challenge Hamilton is a fellow Brit, Lando Norris. The McLaren-Mercedes driver finished in the top ten in the curtailed 2020 season, and is currently in third place in 2021 after a strong start to the year. At 21, time is on his side, but he is currently without a professional victory, and would no doubt love to grab one on his home stage.
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