Distance: 5.891 kilometres
The historic Silverstone, host of F1’s first ever championship race, is one of the sport’s most demanding circuits, with its famous high-speed sweeps testing aerodynamics and handling as well as physical endurance.
As downforce has increased through the years, the track has become faster and faster, and though this year’s rule changes have slowed the cars somewhat, the ground-effect aerodynamics are at their best in fast corners, which makes this one of the calendars best tracks to see the 2022 cars in action.
Winner: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Lewis Hamilton made major inroads on Max Verstappen’s burgeoning championship lead when the pair collided at 280 kilometres per hour through Copse on the first lap, sending the Dutchman into the barriers in a 51G impact. Hamilton was judged predominantly to blame and served a 10-second penalty, but a thrilling charge through the field delivered him a 3.8-second victory.
Red Bull Racing arrived in Britain riding the wave of six straight victories, while runaway title leader Max Verstappen has won five of the last six races. Ferrari and Charles Leclerc’s title run has been severely hamstrung by reliability problems, with two engine-related retirements in the last four grands prix culminating in a back-of-grid start in Canada.
Leclerc remains the field’s form qualifying man with a season-best six poles to Verstappen’s two, one of which came last week when the Monegasque opted not to qualify given his grid penalties. But Leclerc’s Saturday speed has meant little on Sundays — ironically Verstappen has turned more of Leclerc’s poles into wins that Leclerc himself has, at a rate of three wins to two.
On paper this should be a Ferrari circuit on two counts.
The first is that this track is all about aerodynamic performance. The more downforce a car generates, the faster it’ll power through the long sweeps, which is prime Scuderia territory on the evidence of the year to date.
The second is that at the last four races Ferrari has had the quicker car regardless of the track layout. Since the Spanish Grand Prix Leclerc has missed only one pole — in Canada thanks to penalties — and probably would have won at least three of the four races had reliability not cruelled his chances.
But the big unknown is what role Mercedes will play this weekend. The trouble W13 was among the frontrunners in Spain last month, the last permanent track F1 visited, where the smoothness of the circuit — a characteristic shared by Silverstone — meant the car suffered none of the deleterious bouncing that afflicted it around the streets of Monaco, Azerbaijan and Canada.
With more upgrades in the pipeline this weekend, the team’s hopes are high that the British Grand Prix might make it the third player in the fight for victory.
And that will be crucial not only for morale and for George Russell’s long-shot title hopes but also for Lewis Hamilton’s rare career record. The seven-time champion has won a race in every season he’s entered, but so far this year the top step of the podium has felt painfully distant.
Hamilton has always found another gear racing at home. Given the way the season’s been going, this might be his best shot to keep his streak alive.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author. Quotes have been obtained from team press conferences and issued press releases.