F1: Home advantage beckons for Hamilton at Silverstone
Mercedes driver will be keen to win in his own backyard at Silverstone to breathe fire into F1 title challenge with teammate Nico Rosberg
Silverstone: Lewis Hamilton will be banking on home support to help him breathe new life into his title challenge and return him to the top step of the podium, as Formula One heads to Silverstone this weekend for the British Grand Prix.
Mercedes-AMG's British driver Lewis Hamilton walks in the paddock at the Silverstone circuit ahead of the British Formula One Grand Prix. Pic/AFP.
Hamilton is locked in a tense battle for the championship with his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg but a series of setbacks and defeats have robbed the Briton’s title challenge of momentum and handed the initiative to the German.
Hamilton has won four races to Rosberg’s three but the German’s worst result this season has been second while his team-mate has been forced to retire twice.
As a result, in a rapid reversal of fortunes, Hamilton -- who just a handful of races ago held a slim three point lead over his team-mate in the title race -- now heads into his home event trailing Rosberg by 29 points, the largest the gap between the two has been all season. But Rosberg is by no means out of reach and Hamilton has already once before this season closed down a similar-sized deficit.
The 2008 world champion powered to four straight wins to wipe out the 25-point advantage his German team-mate held over him following the season opener in Australia. And Silverstone, where the fans are expected to turn out in their hundreds of thousands over the weekend, would be the perfect place for Hamilton to turn the tide in the championship and rekindle his race-winning form.
“Silverstone is obviously a special race for me and the support I have there is just incredible,” said Hamilton, who took a dominant victory here in treacherous conditions in 2008. “I won the race in the wet in 2008, which was just the best feeling. “That has to be one of the best moments of my career. I loved raising that gold trophy in front of the home crowds and I'm determined to get my hands on it again this year,” he said.
Apart from Hamilton, four other drivers from the current crop have won the British Grand Prix, with Rosberg the most recent winner at the circuit, a former World War II bomber base that first hosted a race in 1948.
Rosberg inherited victory from Hamilton last year when the Briton was sidelinedby a tyre failure while leading, one of several tyre blowouts that blighted last year’s race and forced Pirelli to make alterations to their rubber.
Fresh from having won his third race of the season in Austria a fortnight ago, Rosberg is keen to stretch his legs even further at the head of the standings and beating Hamilton on his home turf will make victory doubly satisfying for the German.
Home of Formula One
Silverstone, located in the Northamptonshire countryside, played host to the first ever Formula One world championship race and lies at the heart of what has come to be known as the sport’s Silicon Valley.
Most teams on the grid, irrespective of their parent company’s nationality, are headquartered a stone’s throw away from the circuit and there is always extra impetus for most outfits to get a good result here.
The most successful team around Silverstone in recent years have been Red Bull, who have won three of the last five races here. And even though Mercedes are once again expected to be the dominant team this weekend, the Milton Keynes-based outfit are hoping to bounce back from a disastrous weekend in Austria.
“This race has an extra element as it's so close to the factory and a lot of the staff who work so hard on the car will be watching from the grandstands with their families,” said Sebastian Vettel, whose retirement a fortnight ago at Red Bull’s other ‘home’ circuit was his third non-finish of the season. “I hope we can get a good result for them,” said the reigning world champion who won at Silverstone in 2009.
Pink for Papa
The British Grand Prix weekend will also mark an emotional homecoming for Jenson Button. The 2009 world champion will be paying tribute to his late father John who passed away in January.
“This race is going to be a special one for me because it was always such an important race for my dad,” said Button, who will be sporting a pink helmet this weekend to honour his father who used to famously wear a pink lucky shirt on race day.
“He won’t be there this year, but he’ll always be with us in spirit - I hope he brings me some extra luck on Sunday,” said Button who has also launched a “Pink for Papa” campaign to raise money for the Henry Surtees foundation, set up by 1964 world champion John Surtees in memory of his late son.
The only other British world champion on the grid apart from Hamilton, the best result Button has achieved in his home race has been fourth.
Given McLaren’s current form, Button -- out of contract at the end of the season -- isn’t too optimistic of a change in fortunes this season either at what could be the 34-year-old’s final outing at Silverstone as a Formula One driver.
“The fast corners of the Grand Prix circuit aren’t necessarily going to suit our package,” Button said. “But we’re bringing improvements to the car all the time, and we’re now seeing some really positive correlation between the tunnel and the track, which is encouraging for our ongoing development programme,” he added.