With three races of the 2020 revised Formula One season completed, there are signs that Mercedes-AMG Petronas will dominate the season and as such a casual viewer may choose to give their attention to other sports this year and not bother watching the British Grand Prix. Such a decision is understandable with Mercedes having locked out the front row yet again. However, today I will outline three reasons why avoiding the British Grand Prix would be a mistake and could be a classic race...well, one can always hope.
- The Return of The Incredible Hulk
Following the quarantine imposed on Sergio Perez as a result of his positive COVID-19 test, all eyes were on Racing Point to see who they would bring into their bubble – quite literally in the case of the team’s biosphere.
The rumour mill was rife following the news that Esteban Gutiérrez had cancelled his Friday stream to ‘get ready for the weekend’ and many people expected the Mexican racer to be brought in due to the obvious association with Sergio Perez and appeasing sponsors. As we all know, the clock was wound back to 2012 and Nico Hulkenberg, literally seen running down the paddock on Friday practice, made it to his pink liveried 2020 challenger 10 minutes prior to the start of the session.
Lance Stroll is racing with a lot of confidence and understandably outperformed his German teammate in Sunday’s qualifying, but the race is a whole different matter as Hulkenberg made clear to the media after qualifying:
“It's a big ask after eight months away to come back and jump into a completely different environment – and into a Formula 1 car I've never driven before and immediately perform,” said Hulkenberg. “Especially when Silverstone is such a high-speed challenge and the conditions were changeable throughout the day.”
Racing Point team boss Otmar Szafnauer told the media that Nico Hulkenberg was chosen over Esteban Gutierrez for the British Grand Prix because Racing Point wanted “someone who could score points for us.”
With the package Nico Hulkenberg has beneath him, I fully expect him to come storming through the pack and yes, like millions of race fans, I hope that he defies the odds and makes it to the podium finally - we will watch with baited breath.
- Tighter Track Limits
Anyone who watched the Virtual Grand Prix during lockdown would have been bemused at how much the drivers abused track limits without a penalty. In the real world though, FIA race director Michael Masi has made clear in his pre-race notes that there will be serious consequences for such infringements around Silverstone.
“On the third occasion of a driver cutting behind the black and white exit kerbs at Turns 9 and 15 during the race, he will be shown a black and white flag, any further cutting will then be reported to the stewards. For the avoidance of doubt this means a total of three occasions combined not three at each corner.”
Such a rule allows the driver to make the difference as opposed to simply the machine. How much will the greatest drivers in the world push it and flirt with penalties?
Such jeopardy is what racing should be made of and the FIA should be commended for such a move. Also, it is not simply a black and white rule to go with the black and white chevrons seeing how: “The above requirements will not automatically apply to any driver who is judged to have been forced off the track, each such case will be judged individually.”
- No cutaways to fans on televised coverage
Although a somewhat tongue in cheek reason for excitement, there is no denying the fact that the 2019 British Grand Prix featured an intense wheel to wheel battle between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas with each vying for the lead. However, with just 2 laps completed and a fierce battle on track, Hamilton had a sweeping move to overtake Bottas and then the Finnish driver was back in front a turn later. The latter part of the move was missed by tv viewers who instead were treated to shots of jubilant Team LH fans.
Obviously, everyone cannot wait for the fans to return to Grand Prix events to indicate business as usual but seeing such consistent on track coverage is a real highlight for me and with no easing of restrictions to come, we shall be treated to such coverage for many more races.
So, to all the naysayers claiming the race around an old airfield this afternoon will be a high-speed procession I say – just wait and see.
Beyond the aforementioned points, we also have several drivers out of position in the case of Sebastian Vettel and Alex Albon – 10th and 12th respectively.
Plus, there will be the opportunity for a surely frustrated George Russell to carve his way through the field having been sanctioned with a 5-place penalty for ignoring double waved yellow flags and being relegated to the back of the grid.
Sport is unpredictable and as the great Murray Walker famously said “In Formula 1 anything can happen, and it usually does”
So, if you were thinking of giving today’s British Grand Prix a miss...it may be time for you to think again.