5 Reasons Why You Must Watch the British Grand Prix
Including: Lewis the virtuoso, a bristling Ferrari team rivalry, and the of Silverstone.
I hear constant grumbling from the Formula 1 fanbase. Why tune in? Mercedes has won 13 of the last 14 outings. Only three times in the last 46 races has a Mercedes driver failed to capture pole. If you’re name isn’t Lewis or Nico, what’s the point of showing up? I'm glad you asked! This weekend’s British Grand Prix in particular is worth your two hours (plus more, if you’re game for qualifying). Here’s five reasons why.
1. The race track is awesome. Silverstone, the flat and hyper-fast 18-turn juggernaut where this Sunday’s British GP will be staged, has soul. Last year’s average pole speed was faster than any track on the calendar except Monza and Spa. Let us also not forget that Silverstone was the first circuit everto host a Formula 1 World Championship race. Giuseppe Farina of Italy won that first race in 1950 in an Alfa Romeo, and went on to become the first champ. This year marks the 50th time F1 has been staged at Silverstone. Trip back in time to the first F1 world championship race, below. (Keep your eye out for one rabid female motor sport fan. Yes: That’s Queen Elizabeth.)
2. The fans are nuts. Only the Italians can compare to the Brits when it comes motormania. These people are nuts for racing, and that makes their home GP fun to watch. How many nations can list such homegrown marques as Jaguar, Aston Martin, BRM, Cooper, Lotus, McLaren? Every one of those has won either an F1 World Championship or the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Brit drivers have won far and away more F1 titles than any other nation, with 16 titles (the Germans are second, with 11, all of them by Schumacher and Vettel). What is it with the Brits? They have motoring in their blood. Pick any fan out of the crowd at Silverstone, and he can probably fix a carburetor without putting down his pint of lager.
3. Lewis Hamilton is the greatest F1 driver of all time. I repeat: Lewis Hamilton will win the British GP this weekend in front of his home crowd, and he will—many years from now—be considered the greatest F1 driver of all time. So much of becoming a champion racer is being in the right place at the right time. Today, F1’s Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, and Hamilton each possess the talent to be the GOAT. But only Hamilton is driving for Mercedes, which fields the fastest car—and will continue to do so until F1 introduces an entirely new formula. There are 12 more races this season, which means Hamilton is likely to pass Alain Prost to become second on the all-time wins list before the year is out. He needs six to pass Prost. He’ll win the British GP on Sunday, as he did last year, and the year before. Even if you loath Hamilton, even if you desire to take Roscoe and Coco to the taxidermist, you have to admit that when you watch him drive you are (usually) witnessing true virtuosity.
4. Becketts complex is the coolest cornering sequence in racing. Watch some of the masters rocket through here…
5. Action in the middle. Formula 1 is set up so that even if one team is dominating, as Mercedes is now, there is always action to follow. One point in the Constructors Championship can result in millions of dollars of prize money among the middle-of the-pack teams at the end of the season, so it matters—a lot—who comes in second as opposed to third, and fifth as opposed to sixth. All but the top drivers literally have their asses on the line, every Grand Prix, all of them fighting for their seats and their futures. This weekend, keep your eye on the intra-team rivalry at Ferrari. Seb Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen are tied in third place as of now, with 96 points. Plenty to follow on Sunday, so load up on beer and Yorkshire pudding now.
A.J. Baime is Editor-at-Large for The Drive. He’s the author of Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans.