At about three o’clock on Sunday, the F1 season will reach its exact halfway mark, with the British Grand Prix being the 11th race of the 21-race calendar. It may not feature at all next with its future up in the air due to a contractual dispute, but for now it remains a waypoint in the season.
But even though we are but 50 per cent of the way through 2019’s racing, Lewis Hamilton is an odds-on favourite to win the title. In fact, he is not just an odds-on favourite at 1/12 to win his sixth World Drivers’ Championship, but his nearest contender is Valtteri Bottas at 8/1 while the Ferrari boys are way back at 70/1. No-one believes Hamilton will not win this war. But can he win the battle on home soil?
Verstappen to spoil the British party
The Austrian Grand Prix saw Max Verstappen become the first non-Mercedes race-winner since Mexico in October last year and restore faith in the racing community that the Silver Arrows are not entirely infallible.
Red Bull did show outstanding pace in Austria and the Silverstone circuit has plenty of similarities to Austrian track where the Adrian Newey-designed chassis has the chance to shine.
Lewis Hamilton has taken pole position here for the last four years running but with rain forecast on and off for Saturday afternoon, Verstappen may fancy that he can pip the reigning world champion in qualifying.
The Dutchman is a 10/1 shot to do so is worth taken each-way for pole position to give yourself the leeway of a spot on the front row still paying out.
A chink in Mercedes armour? Hardly
It must be a curious atmosphere at Mercedes at the moment – it’s three weeks since they won a race. I imagine Toto Wolff to be getting angsty and contorted in team meetings while plotting the downfall of his rivals.
However, Mercedes can take solace from their defeat in Austria from the fact the circumstances of that race could not have been custom-built worse for the team, whose inability to cool the car, arguably their only weakness, saw them turn the engine down before Hamilton damaged his front wing on a curb named for his late great hero Niki Lauda.
It left them without pace on the straights or downforce through the medium-speed corners, something they will see plenty of this weekend too, but at least they know it was not down to a fundamental issue.
They remain 1/200 favourites for the Constructors’ Championship but with the perfect season gone, there is no question how motivated they will be at Silverstone, where the temperatures are expected to be 25 degrees at best and should not give them any cooling problems.
Valtteri Bottas, who this week is rumoured to be losing his seat to highly-rated youngster Esteban Ocon, is an interesting prospect at 9/2 but for me Lewis Hamilton is irresistible to win a home Grand Prix at 4/6 that he was denied last year by an opening-lap shunt from of Kimi Raikkonen.
A bit more best of British
While Hamilton is favourite to take victory, there is always a race within the race in F1: the best of the rest. McLaren, after years in the wilderness with a Honda engine hamstringing them from pillar to post, are finally competitive and the Renault engine has them starting to dominate the midfield.
McLaren arrive at Silverstone on the back of consecutive double points finishes and having confirmed that both Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz will stay with the team next year. Norris has not had the perfect preparation this week, beaching the team’s 720S road car in the gravel during a run for a TV interview.
I don’t expect that to put him off though and Norris is 9/4 to sneak into the top six and take a hefty haul of points on the short trip home.
Source: BETFAIR F1