McLaren-Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton has tipped this weekend's F1 2011 British Grand Prix at Silverstone to be 'one of the best and most exciting ever' – as his team principal Martin Whitmarsh waxed lyrical about a venue that is 'still leading the way'.
Hamilton produced a truly mesmerising performance in torrential conditions to leave his pursuers fairly trailing in his wake and popularly triumph on home turf in 2008, but his chances of replicating that result three years on will depend very much upon the effect yielded by alterations to the off-throttle blown-exhaust regulations.
The 2008 F1 World Champion has been somewhat pessimistic about McLaren's prospects once the clampdown is enforced [see separate story – click here
] – and Red Bull Racing rival Mark Webber has even gone so far as to opine that he would be 'very surprised if the new rules change the pecking order,' telling the Daily Mail
that 'my gut feeling is they might even help us a bit' – but heading towards what is the biggest date on his annual calendar, Hamilton can scarcely contain his enthusiasm.
“My victory at Silverstone in 2008 was one of the sweetest and most satisfying moments of my entire F1 career,” the 26-year-old reflected, “and it's a memory that I always carry with me. Standing on the top step of the podium, and looking across at the sea of flags and faces in the grandstands opposite was simply incredible.
“For this year, of course, we head to a very new Silverstone, and while much has changed around the circuit and in the paddock, I'm sure that all those thousands of fans will be just as passionate as ever – it's one of the greatest things about the British Grand Prix.
“Going into this race, we're facing some very stiff new interpretations of the regulations; while they'll affect all teams, it will be interesting to see if the competitive order is changed as a result. It's going to be a busy weekend for our engineers as they adapt – as always, they'll do a fantastic job to ensure we stay competitive.
“I'm really looking forward to Silverstone – it's one of the best circuits in the world, and I really think that the arrival of DRS and KERS Hybrid will make this one of the best and most exciting British Grands Prix ever.”
Those sentiments are echoed by Whitmarsh, a man who is well aware that – with Sebastian Vettel holding a daunting 77-point lead in the drivers' standings and Red Bull an even more dominant 92-point advantage in the constructors' chase – McLaren needs to start turning the tables fast if it is to have any hope at all of successfully doing battle for title glory this season.
“This will be an exciting time for teams and fans alike as we head to an all-new Silverstone for the British Grand Prix,” the Englishman acknowledged. “Silverstone has been the spiritual home of F1 in Great Britain since the birth of the world championship back in 1950, and it's hugely rewarding to see that not only has the circuit gone from strength-to-strength, but that it's still leading the way.