Lewis Hamilton aims to bounce back in Britain after Austria blip
That will make Lewis Hamilton, in the form of his life and driving a dominant car, hard to beat around a track that has proved somewhat of a happy hunting ground for him
Lewis Hamilton has his sights firmly set on chalking up a record sixth victory in his home British Grand Prix on Sunday, with his Mercedes team once again expected to be favourites after their Austrian blip. The German marque was dealt its first defeat of the season two weeks ago at the Austrian Grand Prix. As Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Red Bull's Max Verstappen battled it out for the win, Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton trailed home a distant third and fifth. While that result came as welcome relief in a season in which Mercedes have otherwise won every race, the fast sweeps of Silverstone, confirmed as staying on the calendar until 2024, and the more forgiving English summer should see the silver cars back in their element.
That will make Hamilton, in the form of his life and driving a dominant car, hard to beat around a track that has proved somewhat of a happy hunting ground for him. The Briton, who leads the overall standings from team-mate Bottas by 31 points having won six of the this season's nine races, has won the British Grand Prix five times, each of those at Silverstone. Tied at the top for most British wins with Scottish legend Jim Clark and French four-time champion Alain Prost, a win on Sunday will make him the most successful driver on British soil outright. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, however, the 34-year-old though wasn't getting carried away by the milestones. "I'm not really one for records," said Hamilton, who was spun around by Kimi Raikkonen on the first lap of the race last year. "If it happens this weekend, it does, if it doesn't, it's no biggy for me, as I'm hoping to be here for a little bit longer!
"But just the fact that that's even a possibility is quite unreal for me, and I think just ultimately, it's really important to put that stuff out of your head, out of your mind and focus on the job at hand. "This has been a strong track for us in the past, and hopefully this weekend, it will be in the sweet spot for us," he added. Hoping to get their cars into the sweet spot will be Ferrari. Last year, they caused something of an upset, when they triumphed at Silverstone despite Mercedes again having been the team to beat. But, unlike this year, the Italian team were genuine title contenders in 2018 with a car capable of regularly challenging for wins. Yet to win a race this year, they can nevertheless take encouragement from their Austria form. "It's difficult to say," said Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari's prospects for the weekend. "I think some races have been up and down for us. "Some races have been strong, other races have been weak, sometimes we understood and sometimes not.
"So I think it's fair and honest to say that we don't know at this point. "We have to get out tomorrow and get a feel for the car. I think we will see straight away if we are in a good place or not for this weekend." Max Verstappen will be keen to score repeat of his Austrian success. The Dutchman won there for Honda-powered Red Bull after a wheel-banging bid for the lead on Leclerc's Ferrari. But he will need more from his car to chalk up a second successive win this weekend. "Of course it's a race victory but it doesn't mean that we are suddenly the dominating team," said Verstappen. "We still need to step up our performance a bit more."
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