Mercedes endured a difficult weekend in Austria two weeks ago, but they can be expected to return to the top step of the podium at this weekend’s British Grand Prix 2019 (Race: 9:10 ET Sunday).
Mercedes had won each and every one of the first eight races of the season, but when their run was finally broken it was not by Ferrari, normally their closest challengers, but by Red Bull and Max Verstappen.
By running longer than the rest in his first stint, and with Ferrari focused on covering off a pair of Mercedes who were struggling in the abnormally hot conditions and probably didn’t represent a genuine threat, Verstappen was able to take advantage. He chased down and passed the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel and the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas to set up a showdown with the leading Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.
The result, two laps from the finish, was an aggressive passing maneuver into the hairpin that saw Leclerc head for the runoff area and Verstappen emerge ahead. The move was investigated (at length) by the stewards after the race but the result was left to stand. It was a first win of the year for Verstappen and Red Bull, and a first since 2006 for a Honda-powered car.
The rest of the top four finished in overtaken order, with Leclerc second, Bottas third and Vettel fourth. The win for Verstappen actually saw him leapfrog Vettel to move up to third in the drivers’ standings. It was as much an indication of Ferrari’s inconsistency as Verstappen’s consistency.
Any hope for a more competitive championship going forward, though, can probably be put to one side. The characteristics of the Austrian circuit were always likely to reduce Mercedes’ advantage and the unexpectedly hot conditions simply exacerbated that. Silverstone is a track that is much better suited to the myriad strengths of their package, and so Monaco resident Lewis Hamilton will fancy his chances of a victory on ‘home’ soil this weekend.
Hamilton limped home fifth in Austria, but he has won the British Grand Prix on five previous occasions, including four times in a row between 2014 and 2017. He can be expected to extend his already very healthy advantage at the top of the drivers’ championship with a win from pole position (which he has taken six times at the circuit before) on Sunday.
McLaren secured their second consecutive double points finish in Austria, with Lando Norris sixth and Carlos Sainz eighth, either side of the underperforming Red Bull of Pierre Gasly. The atmosphere within the team is optimistic as they seem to have pulled a little ahead of the rest of the midfield pack, and Norris and Sainz have already been confirmed for next year.
Sainz hasn’t had a great deal of luck at Silverstone in the past, having retired from three of his four races there, but he has showed good pace and took eighth for Toro Rosso in 2016; this will be Norris’ first home Grand Prix, but he finished on the podium at the circuit in both F2 and F3.
A third consecutive double points finish should be within McLaren’s grasp on Sunday.
The two Alfa Romeos of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovanazzi rounded out the top 10 in Austria, with the latter securing the first point of his Formula One career. That left the Racing Point of Sergio Perez 11th, as he again narrowly missed out on the points after three consecutive 12th place finishes.
Racing Point have not displayed the pace they demonstrated in their previous guise of Force India so far this year. With some other midfield teams struggling, they have a decent chance of scoring at Silverstone, particularly in the hands of Perez.
The Mexican driver has finished in the top 10 at the British Grand Prix in each of the last four seasons. It is one of his favorite circuits, and after a series of near misses, he might just return to the points there on Sunday.
Our Preview’s F1 British Grand Prix Picks and Betting Predictions Verdict
- Bet on Lewis Hamilton to win pole position (aka ‘fastest qualifier’) @ best odds of -149 with Intertops.
- Back Hamilton to win the race @ best odds of -133 with Intertops.
- Back McLaren to secure a double points finish (aka ‘both team drivers to finish in top 10’) @ biggest odds of +125 with Bovada.
- Bet on Sergio Perez to finish in the points @ best of +300 (3/1) with Bovada.