British Grand Prix 2007 preview

British Grand Prix 2007 Silverstone circuit diagramLewis Hamilton is the media darling of 2007 and now he faces the challenge of fighting for victory at his home race with the eyes of his country upon him.

Ferrari’s return to form could not have come at a worse time for the rookie championship leader. The growing expectations of his prodigious talent, his appetite for success and the hopes of a nation could be a recipe for a sublime debut home win – or a bitter defeat.

Will Hamilton win his maiden home race? Or are Ferrari unstoppable? Read our British Grand Prix preview and predict the podium below.

The track

Despite numerous revisions and tweaks over the years the Silverstone configuration still clings to its heritage as a high-speed venue. Copse, Becketts, Stowe and Bridge are some of the best quick corners in F1 and among the finest places to see F1 cars in action on the calendar.

The unfortunate side effect of that is that there are few places where modern cars can get close enough to pass. Last year’s race provided ample proof of that: Michael Schumacher was unable to pass Kimi Raikkonen until the pit stops; Juan Pablo Montoya was the only leading driver to make a pass – and that came after a safety car restart when he mugged a dozing Rubens Barrichello.

As with Sunday’s French Grand Prix, wet weather is expected, and if it comes it could turn the entire race on its head.

McLaren-Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, Indianapolis, 2007, 3After France Ron Dennis claimed McLaren’s performance had flattered Ferrari. Fernando Alonso was compromised by his gearbox problem in qualifying and Hamilton was shafted by his strategy.

But there was no disguising the fact that Ferrari had struck a vital blow against McLaren, and behind Hamilton’s bolkd claims that he will lead a fight back at Silverstone, the Woking team may in fact be looking at damage limitation.

The pressure on Hamilton to extend his astonishing run of podium finishes at home will be gigantic. But as he showed in GP2 last year, he thrives on the cheers of the crowd.

Renault

Renault’s claims of a breakthrough in performance were not much in evidence at Magny-Cours. Admittedly Heikki Kovalainen was taken out through no fault of his own, but the Renaults did not look like challenging BMW in the race.

Ferrari

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Magny-Cours, 2007There’s relief at Maranello having halted McLaren’s three race run of one-two finishes. The surprise at Magny-Cours was that Raikkonen was allowed to pass Felipe Massa via the pit stops, suggesting that – for the first time in 12 years – both Ferrari drivers are being allowed to fight for the championship.

It’s great to see and the Scuderia are to be applauded for it. But if Raikkonen wants to haul in that gap to Hamilton, he needs to start scoring big against the Briton. Striking a blow at Hamilton’s home race would be a good start.

Honda

Breakthrough! Honda promised an improved car at France, they delivered, and Jenson Button converted it into their first point – just in time for his home race. We could see a repeat of 2005 when the team started poorly but rallied magnificently in the second half of the year.

BMW

Clearly Robert Kubica suffered no ill-effects from his Montreal crash – he rocked up at Magny-Cours and set his best ever qualifying position.

The delicious battle between he and team mate Nick Heidfeld (still waiting for an ’08 contract) may now resume. Heidfeld needs to assert his advantage from the first quarter of the season to guarantee his indispensability for next year.

Toyota

Toyota have targeted a points finish at Silverstone but they’re struggling as their midfield rivals move forward. Honda are now a threat as well as Red Bull and Williams. But as ever, there’s no promise of imminent progress.

The difficulties of passing at Silverstone gives Jarno Trulli a credible chance of converting his typically above-average qualifying into a couple of points, however.

Red Bull-Renault

Mark Webber, David Coulthard, Felipe Massa, Magny-Cours, 2007Both Red Bulls made the finish at Magny-Cours, which must have been a relief after the team’s reliability woes, but the flashes of pace they showed at other venues was absent.

Two-time British Grand Prix winner David Coulthard can count on the support of the crowd to give him a boost – but even as he closes on a contract extension for 2008 he knows he must maintain the pressure on Mark Webber.

Williams-Toyota

Magny-Cours may have set a few alarm bells off at Williams. The team were out of the points on a day when a Renault and a Toyota were compromised. And Alexander Wurz once again failed to get past the first part of qualifying. A continuation of the trend at Silverstone could mean they’re in for a barren summer.

Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari

Another race, another double DNF. Vitantonio Liuzzi was blameless in his crash, however. Scott Speed pulled up with a failure in the seamless-shift gearbox that has given Red Bull headaches. Reliability at Silverstone may be the limit of their aspirations.

Spyker-Ferrari

Too far behind any other car on the grid to mount much of a fight, Spyker can only hope to maintain some dignity. Christijan Albers blew those hopes to smithereens when he left the Magny-Cours pit lane with the fuel rig still attached.

The Dutchman is under increased pressure as his performances relative to rookie Adrian Sutil have not been good enough.

Super Aguri-Honda

An inauspicious race for Anthony Davidson ahead of his first home F1 Grand Prix – running Liuzzi off at turn one. He badly needs a result as he hasn’t shown up as well against team mate Takuma Sato as many expected him to this year.

Who will win at Silverstone? Predict the podium for the British Grand Prix – leave your comments below.

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5 comments on British Grand Prix 2007 preview

  1. Ben Goldberg said on 3rd July 2007, 9:04

    Another Ferrari 1-2 as long as nothing out of the drivers control goes wrong. I don’t know who will win, but if I have to choose, I say Massa. McLaren doesn’t have the pace right now, just like Ferrari didn’t have the pace in North America. With one week between races, there’s no time to make modifications, just like Ferrari between Canada and the US.

    It’ll probably be a 3-4 finish for McLaren with Lewis continuing his podium streak, but I say probably because I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the McLaren’s suffer mechanical problems during qualifying or the race. They had numerous problems last week, though only Alonso’s gearbox failure affected their race outcome.

  2. M Smith said on 3rd July 2007, 12:08

    I predict:

    1st – Massa
    2nd – Hamilton
    3rd – Raikkonen

    Can’t wait for the race, I hope Button scores again.

  3. I’m going to stick my neck out on this one as I’m not convinced by the Ferrari resurgence; I suspect that it was influenced by the unusual nature of the Magny-Cours track.

    If it doesn’t rain:

    1 Alonso
    2 Hamilton
    3 Raikkonen

    If it rains:

    1 Alonso
    2 Raikkonen
    3 Heidfeld

    Well, I have to be different, don’t I? ;)

  4. If you believe what Alonso has been saying in the press about McLaren then he won’t get near P1 if Hamilton is still on track.
    I predict:
    1. Hamilton
    2. Raikkonen
    3. Alonso

    I think also that the BMW’s of Heidfeld and Kubica will be there or there abouts waiting for any scraps should the front runners have any problems.
    I’m also hoping for an upturn in Williams fortunes this weekend, hopefully get both cars in the points, although with Alex Wurz’s qualifying performances as they are, I don’t hold much hope!

  5. Raikkonen, Massa, Hamilton, if it does not rain :-)

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