British GP Preview: Home advantage for the four Lions?

Jenson Button prays for Canada rainHistoric Silverstone welcomes Formula One for the 2013 British Grand Prix this weekend amid the usual furore of patriotism and, as one may expect, controversy in the wake of the FIA’s decision to ban Mercedes from the upcoming Young Driver Test. Politics aside, the scene is set for a thrilling weekend at Silverstone which could shed some light on the destination of the 2013 drivers’ and constructors’ championships.

For the race, Great Britain can boast its biggest representation in the field since 2007 as Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Paul di Resta and Max Chilton get ready to race in front of their home fans, yet the chance of a highly popular victory stemming from a member of this quartet seems to be slim. Mercedes are rapidly improving their race pace after a difficult start to the season and although the results in Monaco and Canada were impressive, Silverstone will be the first true test of just how valuable the tyre test was; street circuits are hardly representative of progress. Regardless, a good result may be on the cards for them due to Pirelli’s choice of compounds for the weekend. Hamilton is the best-placed Brit for the win, but he still lags behind the likes of Vettel and Alonso, both of whom have shown some great form of late. The circuit should suit Ferrari well, and Red Bull will also be pushing hard with the race presenting Mark Webber’s best chance of a win. Interestingly, Sebastian Vettel has never won on the ‘new’ Silverstone layout, but he has a habit of correcting such failures.

Jenson Button’s chances of a first win at the British Grand Prix are also slim due to McLaren’s struggles with the MP4-28, but he is not to be discounted on the grounds that the weather could yet play a part in proceedings. As proven at the Chinese GP, the car isn’t a ‘dead dog’, just one that has a severe limp. A few upgrades could improve McLaren’s fortunes, but one would imagine that their target will be to get both cars well within the points. Their main rivals this weekend will be Force India, who will also be celebrating their home race this weekend (despite their name suggesting otherwise) with their factory located just across the road. Paul di Resta is becoming increasingly noticed in the sport after a strong start to the year, and finishing as the top Brit in Silverstone would be a great achievement. The final Great Brit* on the grid is Max Chilton who will most probably be aiming to finish in front of his home fans ahead of his closest rivals: Pic, van der Garde and teammate Bianchi. A strong result on home soil would do wonders for Chilton’s confidence and silence some of the naysayers.

Williams’ chequered history will be celebrated at the race as the team enjoys its 600th grand prix, although 2013 has hardly been a classic year. Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas will be aware of how important this weekend is, with anything less than points really beginning to spark concern for the Oxfordshire-based team. The head of the field is so finely-balanced that it makes it hard to seecopyright octane Williams scoring unless they make a huge step forward or a race of attrition ensues; either way, their chances look slim. Once again, they will be trying to hang onto Toro Rosso’s coat-tails where possible, yet Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne are racing better than ever, with the race for Webber’s seat at Red Bull becoming all the more intense. Points at Silverstone would be a great result, with it worth noting that Red Bull have confirmed Webber’s contract extension in the past two seasons just after the British Grand Prix…

It is difficult to tell where the advantage lies, but one would expect Red Bull to be leading the field once again. Home advantage is a phenomenon that is widely disputed in sport; without a doubt though, the British crowd will be doing all they can to propel one of their own to victory on Sunday.

Images courtesy of Octane Photographic.

*I can only apologise for using that saying.

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