Bottas on the move and four other key talking points ahead of British Grand Prix

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Lewis Hamilton will arrive at the British Grand Prix 20 points behind Sebastian Vettel in the race for this year’s championship.

Hamilton, 32, will be bidding to become the first driver to win at Silverstone on four consecutive occasions.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a closer look at the title battle, and the other major talking points ahead of the ninth round of the campaign.

HAMILTON ON HOLIDAY

Hamilton lost further ground to Vettel after he finished only fourth at last Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix, and the Briton took the rather peculiar step of going on a two-day holiday in between the Spielberg race and his home grand prix on Sunday.

Hamilton will also be the only current driver absent from the London demonstration on Wednesday night – a move which has irked the sport’s new owners.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team claim the Englishman is entitled to a break, but one wonders whether there is more to it.

His timing certainly seems curious, given the British Grand Prix takes place on Sunday, and he will have time for a break next month when the sport heads for its traditional summer shutdown.

If he is not on the pace in front of his home crowd, further questions will be asked.

Hamilton spend two days on holidays in Greece this week.

Hamilton spent two days on holidays in Greece this week.

BRITISH GP CAST INTO DOUBT

The British Grand Prix faces being chalked off the calendar beyond 2019 after Silverstone’s owners delivered the sport’s worst-kept secret by activating a break clause in its contract.

The British Racing Drivers’ Club, which owns the Northamptonshire circuit, are hopeful they will be able to renegotiate a more financially-viable deal with Liberty Media, Formula One’s new American owners.

It is a risky strategy, and one which could backfire if Liberty refuse to play ball.

Yet, Liberty will not want to lose the longest-serving grand prix on the calendar during the formative months of their reign.

Surely, it will be a case of when, and not if, a new contract is announced.

2019 will be the last year of the race unless a new deal is brokered with Liberty Media.

BOTTAS ON THE MOVE

Valtteri Bottas’ victory in Austria has forced Hamilton to look over his shoulder after the Finn moved to within 15 points of his Mercedes team-mate.

Hamilton was expected to be the de facto number one at Mercedes this season following Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement – but Bottas has recorded two victories, just one fewer than Hamilton, and out-qualified the Briton on a number of occasions, too.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has said the team will determine whether to keep Bottas beyond this season after he signed only a one-year deal.

For the moment at least, it would appear a no-brainer.

Valtteri Bottas.

Valtteri Bottas.

ALONSO AIMING TO BOUNCE BACK

Fernando Alonso is hopeful he will bounce back from another torrid weekend in Austria.

The double world champion was punted out of the Spielberg race on the first lap following an over-exuberant move by Daniil Kvyat at turn one.

Alonso, who will determine his future during the summer break, has failed to finish six of the eight races he has competed in this year.

“I really enjoy the challenge of this Silverstone circuit, and a good result there always feels like it’s well-deserved, because it’s a tricky track and a tough race,” Alonso said.

“I hope we will have more luck at our home race than we did last weekend in Austria. It was an unfortunate incident and I hope we can bounce back.”

Fernando Alonso.

Fernando Alonso.

CHANGES AT SAUBER

Former Renault chief Frederic Vasseur has been handed the reins at Sauber after he was announced as Monisha Kaltenborn’s replacement on Wednesday.

Frenchman Vasseur parted company with Renault after just one lacklustre season, but has been deemed as the right person to turn Sauber’s fortunes around.

The Swiss outfit are last but one in the constructors’ championship having scored only five points this season. Vasseur will officially start his new role on Monday.

Can Sauber change their fortunes under a new leader?

Can Sauber change their fortunes under a new leader?

Most popular

Related Tags

British GP future uncertain as Silverstone trigger break clause in contract

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
2019 will be the last year of the race unless a new deal is brokered with Liberty Media.

The British Grand Prix faces extinction from the Formula One calendar after Silverstone’s owners triggered a break clause in its contract on Tuesday.

The British Racing Drviers’ Club, which owns the Northamptonshire circuit, gave notice of its intent to leave its current deal in two years’ time.

Its decision means 2019 will be the last year for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone unless a new deal is brokered with F1’s American owners Liberty Media.

Nearly 140,000 spectators watched triple world champion Lewis Hamilton claim his third consecutive win at Silverstone last year.

And a near sell-out crowd is expected again this weekend as Hamilton bids to reduce rival Sebastian Vettel’s 20-point lead at the summit of the championship.

But the demands of the hosting fee which goes up by five per cent every year – from £12million in 2010, the year in which the new long-term deal started, to £16m this season and £25m in 2026 – is crippling Silverstone.

Liberty Media has staged a series of talks with both the BRDC and Silverstone.

But while Silverstone wants to continue its relationship with Formula One, it will not do so at the cost of financial ruin.

The Northamptonshire circuit, unlike many other tracks on the F1 calendar, receives no government backing.

“This decision has been taken because it is not financially viable for us to deliver the British Grand Prix under the terms of our current contract,” BRDC chairman John Grant said.

“We sustained losses of £2.8m in 2015 and £4.8m in 2016, and we expect to lose a similar amount this year.

“We have reached the tipping point where we can no longer let our passion for the sport rule our heads. It would not only risk the very future of Silverstone and the BRDC, but also the British motorsport community that depends on us.

“However, I want to be clear that although we have now activated the break clause, we are fully supportive of the changes the Liberty team are making to improve the F1 experience.

“Our hope is that an agreement can still be reached, so that we can ensure a sustainable and financially viable future for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone for many years to come.”

Most popular

Related Tags

Bottas can make title tussle a three-horse race and four other things we learned from the Austrian GP

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Winner: Valtteri Bottas.

Valtteri Bottas took the second Formula One victory of his career as the Mercedes driver held off Sebastian Vettel’s  Ferrari to win the Austrian Grand Prix.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at the five things we learned from Sunday’s race.

Bottas can make title tussle a three-horse race

All the talk heading to Speilberg surrounded Vettel and Lewis Hamilton and their battle for the world championship.

The controversy over Vettel’s decision to deliberately drive into the side of Hamilton’s Mercedes in Baku also meant the spotlight was on the pair as the F1 circus rolled into Austria.

But Bottas, the quiet, reserved Finn, stuck his Mercedes on pole with a blistering qualifying lap before almost defying human physics to get the perfect start to the race.

He held off a late push from Vettel to take his second win of the year, closing to within 35 points of the Ferrari driver in the championship standings, with Hamilton now only 15 points clear of his team-mate.

Valtteri Bottas.

Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton needs some home comforts

The future of the British Grand Prix is reportedly hanging in the balance ahead of the weekend’s race at Silverstone.

Speculation suggests the circuit will announce this week it is executing an option to end the contract to host the event due to spiralling costs.

Whether or not this is the last race at the Northamptonshire track for some time, Hamilton needs an inspired drive to change his luck and get his title tilt back in full swing.

The three-time champion finished fourth in Austria and has only had one podium finish in the past four grands prix.

That win in Canada was proceeded by a seventh-placed finish in Monaco, with fifth the best he could manage in Baku after a loose headrest cost him an almost-certain victory.

A gearbox penalty, brake-disc failure and a poor qualifying lap meant he had a weekend of damage limitation at the Red Bull Ring but he needs so much more than that as he aims for a fifth British Grand Prix win.

Lewis Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton.

Driver penalties need to be addressed

The fact Vettel escaped further reprimands for driving into the side of Hamilton in protest against what he considered dangerous braking behind the safety car in Baku was the focus at the start of the race weekend.

It was brought into the light again on Friday evening when Hamilton was hit with a penalty of his own for requiring an unscheduled change on his gearbox.

That severely hampered his hopes of winning here and showed that punishing drivers for technical problems may not be the way to operate moving forward.

Former driver Mark Webber, two-time world champion Fernando Alonso and Mercedes director Toto Wolff all voiced that opinion to differing degrees in the last week and it certainly ruined the possibility of Hamilton and Vettel resuming their on-track battle immediately in Sunday’s race.

Hamilton received a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

Hamilton received a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

Verstappen’s luck is well and truly out

Max Verstappen had high hopes and plenty of expectation on his shoulders heading into the home race for his Red Bull team.

Instead he suffered a poor start, was bogged down and rammed out of the race after being caught up in Alonso’s spin with the Spaniard having been shunted by Daniil Kvyat.

That meant thousands of Dutch supporters left disappointed and that their hero Verstappen has now retired from five of the last seven races, leaving him frustrated to say the least.

His annoyances with ongoing bad luck will only have been heightened by the fact his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo has been racking up podiums while he stews in the paddock.

Five successive podiums, four third-places and a win in Baku mean the Australian is now 62 points clear of Verstappen.

Max Verstappen.

Max Verstappen.

Not every race can be like Baku

Other than Bottas’ superb start and a couple of shunts at the start, plus the final two laps of tension as Vettel and Hamilton closed down their prey before ultimately coming up short, the Austrian Grand Prix was largely forgettable.

That is in stark contrast to the Azerbaijan race two weeks prior, which contained controversy, safety cars, penalties and memorable moments.

Finding the right blend of constant entertainment remains one of the biggest challenges for the sport’s new owners Liberty Media and hopefully Silverstone will be more like the relative chaos of Baku as opposed to the somewhat uneventful race in Austria.

Bottas leads the field during the Austrian Grand Prix.

Bottas leads the field during the Austrian Grand Prix.

Most popular

Related Tags

Related Sections