British GP preview: George Russell, Lewis Hamilton, Lando Norris in battle for home victory with Max Verstappen lurking | F1 News

After a dream qualifying result for the fans at Silverstone, Sunday’s British Grand Prix could hardly be better set up to provide further drama.

George Russell beat his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to pole, with Lando Norris taking third for McLaren to create a British front three on the grid for the first time in Formula 1 at Silverstone, and the first time at any track since 1968.

If the prospect of an all-British battle for victory didn’t provide enough tension, there’s also the lurking threat posed by world championship leader Max Verstappen, starting from fourth.

Interchangeable conditions throughout the weekend so far, with the extremes of the July weather extreme even for Britain, have made it very tricky to work out who will have the strongest race pace.

Norris and his McLaren team-mate Oscar Piastri, who starts fifth, appeared strongest in the dry on Friday, while Russell and Hamilton excelled in wet conditions on Saturday, before taking pole on a cool, drying circuit.

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Lewis Hamilton, George Russell and fans celebrate England’s win over Switzerland on penalties to reach the semi-finals of Euro 2024.

Verstappen, meanwhile, has so far failed to get the best out of his upgraded Red Bull, but was handicapped in the latter stages of qualifying after a trip onto the gravel in the opening part of the session damaged his car.

With the forecast promising a mixture of showers and sunshine once more on Sunday, it is almost impossible to work out who is most likely to end the day on the top step of the podium, creating a marvellous spectacle for F1 fans.

Who has the fastest car?

It’s an almost impossible question to answer, but we’ll try.

The consensus among those involved seems to be that, as has been the case over recent weeks, Verstappen and Norris would likely have a slight edge over Mercedes in dry conditions.

The pair were on course last weekend in Austria to finish as the top two for a third successive race, before their controversial collision gifted victory to Russell.

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George Russell says being on pole at his home Grand Prix is the ‘best feeling’ he has ever had after a qualifying session.

“Realistically we know we’re probably a tenth or two behind Lando and Max, but I think we’ve got a good fight on our hands,” Russell said.

“But the weather’s going to play a huge part in that. You know, it’s been raining and drying up throughout the last couple of days. There’s a bit of rain on the forecast tomorrow.”

Norris, who isn’t usually one for overly optimistic assessments of his chances, appeared to remain in a positive frame of mind after blowing his chances of pole with a mistake in the early stages of his final flying lap in qualifying.

“We’ve been very quick in the races over the last two months,” Norris said. “It’s probably been one of our strengths.

“It’s been actually race pace over qualifying pace. But this is a very different type of circuit. It’s a very different layout. But it’s still a strength. And hopefully it comes back towards us a little bit tomorrow.”

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Lando Norris says he expected Mercedes to be his main contenders for pole and will look to bring the fight to them from P3 tomorrow.

As for Verstappen, who before his collision with Norris last week had been on a brilliant run of form that saw him snatch victories away from the seemingly faster McLaren, there was a hint that the RB20 has more performance to unleash.

“It hurts because to let your team down that way,” he said after his Q1 error, “it hurts a lot because I think the weekend was strong up to now. We were just not able to show the pace.”

Will Russell and Hamilton work together?

It must be said that to begin with, at least, this is largely a question for Hamilton.

It’s quite safe to say that with the seven-time world champion seeking a first victory since December 2021, he will be giving everything to beat Russell off the line and take the lead.

In the event that the starting order remains after the first corner, it’s fair to assume that Hamilton may be under some pressure from Mercedes boss Toto Wolff to take a sensible approach to racing his team-mate.

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Lewis Hamilton says it was the best the 2024 car has ever felt after securing a brilliant Mercedes one-two on the grid for the British Grand Prix.

Given Hamilton is heading to Ferrari next season, he might not care too much about what Wolff wants, but in theory Mercedes will have a major advantage if they can keep their two cars at the front of the pack.

While confirming that he’ll be attempting to implement some sort of plan for his drivers to work together, Wolff appeared somewhat resigned to the reality that there may be moments where the Silver Arrows are fighting each other.

“I think we’re talking about it every Sunday,” he told Sky Sports F1. “And we’re not trying to be a broken record, but we have an opportunity tomorrow, be it only for a podium.

“But we’re starting first and second and as long as we can hold that for a while, that would be good and gives us a better position.”

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Karun Chandhok analyses George Russell and Lewis Hamilton’s fastest laps during qualifying of the British GP.

For the Hamilton fans hoping to see the 39-year-old cap his historic time at Mercedes with at least one more victory, he did provide a subtle note of encouragement.

“I think I was cautious with my set-up, more thinking to have a nice balance in the race rather than all for one particular lap,” Hamilton said. “So I do think that the car will be good tomorrow.”

Extra tension on the second row

Verstappen and Norris have recently got quite used to battling for the lead off the start line, but this time their duel will resume from behind the Mercedes.

Their collision in Austria was very clearly the headline news coming into the weekend, but Norris somewhat diffused the situation by withdrawing his post-race demand for an apology from Verstappen.

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Lando Norris and Max Verstappen crash in the Austrian Grand Prix, with both drivers then missing out on P1.

The softening of the Brit’s stance led some to suggest that Verstappen, who finished fifth in Austria as Norris retired as a result of damage from the incident, has established a psychological advantage over his closest title challenger.

Norris once more seemed keen to play down the significance of his battle with Verstappen.

“I’m sure Max is going to be racing us tomorrow, but I’ve still got two other guys I’ve got to worry about, so I don’t care just about Red Bull,” he said.

“I think our strategy has been very good over the last two months, so I’m happy. The team are doing a good job and therefore I’m confident we can execute a good race. We need good pace. We need to be able to race well. I need to pass two guys if that’s going to be on the cards.”

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Max Verstappen says he is happy to still be in the hunt despite damaging his car as he qualified P4 for the British Grand Prix.

The idea of looking ahead rather than behind was not just presented by Norris, with McLaren team principal Andrea Stella also appearing quietly confident.

“We could have done a little bit better,” he said. “But we are there and certainly we will play our cards tomorrow.”

Who has the best weather person?

For all the talk of potential performance, there’s a high chance that speed and skill – at least from the drivers – will not turn out to be the most crucial factor on Sunday.

Changing weather conditions during the race mean that strategy could be decisive, with huge gains possible from switching to the right tyre at the right moment.

The drivers will get their instructions from their engineers, but the process stretches beyond each team’s pit wall and garage.

McLaren chief executive Zak Brown, who is part of Sky Sports F1’s coverage this weekend from his team’s pit wall, explained during qualifying that the Woking squad have spotters out on different parts of the track and even in the air keeping a close eye on conditions.

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Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz looks back at all the big talking points from Qualifying for the British Grand Prix.

Given Mercedes apparent advantage in the wet and the fact it’s always easier to drive from the front in the rain due to the lack of spray coming from a car in front, Russell could benefit from more showers, but is also wary of their danger.

“We will need a good weather person! It literally takes one small mistake and it can all go wrong,” he said. “Everyone’s in the same boat.”

Like Russell, Norris is attempting to win his home race for the first time, and is confident of taking on his compatriots regardless of the conditions.

“It’s going to rain again tomorrow, so I’m excited,” he said. “It’s going to be a good race. We’re quick. I can bring the fight to George and I can bring the fight to Lewis, so excited to put on a good show tomorrow.”

Sky Sports F1’s live British GP schedule (all F1 sessions on Sky Showcase)

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Here’s what you can look forward to during coverage of this weekend’s British Grand Prix.

Sunday July 7
8:15am: F3 Feature Race
9:50am: F2 Feature Race
11:50am: Porsche Supercup
1:30pm: Grand Prix Sunday – British GP build-up
5pm: Chequered Flag: British GP reaction
6pm: Ted’s Notebook

F1’s summer triple-header concludes with the big one, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Watch every session live on Sky Sports F1 and Sky Showcase, with Sunday’s race at 3pm. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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