Sil­ver­stone is a three-man tus­sle

CityPress - - Sport - MICHELLE FOSTER sports@city­press.co.za (Mercedes)

With 20 points sep­a­rat­ing Se­bas­tian Vet­tel and Lewis Hamil­ton, and 15 be­tween the Brit and his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bot­tas, the For­mula One ti­tle race has just be­come a three­driver tus­sle.

Af­ter the drama of Baku, dur­ing which Vet­tel and Hamil­ton clashed on the track, last week­end’s Grand Prix in Aus­tria was an an­ti­cli­max.

In­stead of fisticuffs, re­tal­i­a­tions, or paint swap­ping, Vet­tel and Hamil­ton didn’t come close to each other on the track as the Mercedes driver suf­fered a gear­box penalty and started P8. He fin­ished fourth to Vet­tel’s run­ner-up re­sult.

That paved the way for Bot­tas to en­ter the fray and record his sec­ond F1 vic­tory.

While this week­end’s Bri­tish GP is by no means a ti­tle de­cider, a bad re­sult for any of the three could al­ter the dy­nam­ics – as could a good re­sult.

Hamil­ton will be vy­ing for his fifth Sil­ver­stone win, his fourth in suc­ces­sion.

He has been the dom­i­nant force at the Northamp­ton­shire cir­cuit in re­cent years, win­ning ev­ery Bri­tish GP.

Throw in Nico Ros­berg’s 2013 win and Mercedes are aim­ing for their fifth on the trot ... not a bad record.

The Brack­ley squad have been up and down of late, with is­sues such as Hamil­ton’s head­rest prob­lem in Baku and the gear­box in Aus­tria. They’ve also strug­gled with tyres, with the W08 not al­ways able to get the most out of the Pirelli rub­ber.

That doesn’t seem to af­fect Bot­tas, though, with the Finn racing to vic­tory in Aus­tria – lead­ing from lights to flag. He’ll want more of the same as he looks to up­set Hamil­ton’s home­com­ing to­day.

While Sil­ver­stone may have be­longed to Mercedes in re­cent times, this year’s cham­pi­onship has al­ready shown that yes­ter­day’s re­sults don’t dic­tate to­day’s pace, as Fer­rari have re­turned to the front.

The Scud­e­ria last won in Eng­land back in 2011, when Fer­nando Alonso took the DRIV­ERS Se­bas­tian Vet­tel

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CON­STRUC­TORS

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Lewis HAmil­ton VAltteri Bot­tAs DAniel RiC­CiA­rdo Kimi RÄikkö­nen Ser­gio Perez MAx Ver­stAp­pen Este­BAn OCon CAr­los SAinz Jr Felipe MAssA

Mercedes

Fer­rAri Red Bull-TAg Heuer ForCe In­diA-MerCedes Wil­liAms-MerCedes Toro Rosso-Fer­rAri HAAs-Fer­rAri Re­nAult SAuBer-Fer­rAri MCLAren-HondA GER GBR FIN AUS FIN MEX NED FRA ESP BRA FR MC MC RB FR FI RB FI TR WL PTS

171 151

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107

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PTS MC FR RB FI WL TR HA RN SB ML

287 254

152

89 40

33

29 18

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che­quered flag ahead of Vet­tel. With 15 Bri­tish P1s on the board, Fer­rari may be the most suc­cess­ful team at Sil­ver­stone, but it hasn’t been a happy hunt­ing ground with just two wins in the past decade.

With the home crowd firmly be­hind Hamil­ton, Vet­tel could face a hos­tile greet­ing to­day. He has, how­ever, down­played that, say­ing he ex­pects a “fair crowd” and one that “ap­pre­ci­ates” good re­sults – even if they aren’t in favour of their own driver. Cir­cuit length: Race dis­tance: 2016 win­ner:

Over at Red Bull, Daniel Ric­cia­rdo is chas­ing a sixth suc­ces­sive podium fin­ish, while Max Ver­stap­pen just wants to fin­ish. Such has been the Dutch­man’s bad luck that he has been over­hauled by Force In­dia’s Ser­gio Perez in the driv­ers’ stand­ings. While the Mex­i­can is hav­ing the best sea­son of his ca­reer, Ver­stap­pen – linked to a move to ri­vals Fer­rari – feels he is hav­ing one of the worst.

It can’t get worse than McLaren, where

5.891km 306.198km Lewis Hamil­ton

Alonso faces fur­ther grid penal­ties as Honda have once again changed el­e­ments in his en­gine. At a high-speed, fast-paced Sil­ver­stone, points may be a horse­power or two too far away for McLaren.

But one of the big ques­tions is if Jolyon Palmer can get it right at home. The master of P11, he needs to at­tain a top-10 re­sult to even con­sider a fu­ture in F1 – and even then it may be too lit­tle too late for the Brit.

– TEAMtalk Me­dia

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