Who will be Britain’s next F1 world champion?

For the first time since Nico Rosberg’s crowning glory in 2016, the F1 world championship is being held by a non-British driver.
(L to R): Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren
(L to R): Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren

Max Verstappen’s controversial championship victory over Lewis Hamilton in 2021 ended the Briton’s four-year spell of superiority at the top of F1 and marked the first time since 2007 that the world title has not been won by either a British or German driver.

With Red Bull’s Verstappen looking a strong bet to become a two-time world champion after winning six of this season’s nine grand prix and boasting a commanding points lead, is F1 set for a spell of Dutch domination?

The United Kingdom holds more F1 world drivers’ championship titles than any other country with 20, having produced 10 different British world champions since 1950.

Ahead of next weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone, we consider who will be Britain’s next F1 world champion.

Lewis Hamilton

Yes, we know, Hamilton is already a world champion. But technically, he could still be Britain’s next. We didn’t say ‘new’.

The seven-time world champion has not had the start to the season that he would have hoped for as he aimed to bounce back from the cruel and controversial circumstances that denied him a record eighth world title in Abu Dhabi last year.

Mercedes have been woefully off the pace compared to their usual high standards of competitiveness and appear to have no hope of competing for either world championship in 2022.

Hamilton has gone 10 consecutive races without a win - his last being the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix - and he is a whopping 98 points behind championship leader Verstappen nine races into the campaign.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W13. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada,
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W13. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd…

Despite suggestions from the likes of Jackie Stewart that Hamilton should consider retiring, the 37-year-old proved last time out in Canada that he is still performing at a very high level, even if his results do not necessarily reflect it.

Hamilton has a contract covering the 2022 and 2023 seasons and it is safe to assume that his future beyond the end of next year will be heavily influenced by the state of Mercedes’ competitiveness.

Providing Mercedes can turn their fortunes around sooner rather than later and get on top of the new regulations, there is still every chance that Hamilton will have at least one more shot at claiming a redemptive world title and lay down a firm case for being F1’s GOAT.

Write off Lewis Hamilton at your peril - we aren’t ruling him out just yet.

George Russell

He may only be nine races into his Mercedes F1 career, but George Russell has already demonstrated exactly why he is rated so highly by the Brackley squad.

Russell arrived at Mercedes to replace Valtteri Bottas as Hamilton’s new teammate, and expectations were fairly low given the daunting task he faced in going up against one of the greatest racing drivers of all time.

But the 24-year-old Briton has enjoyed a brilliant start to life at Mercedes and sits fourth in the world championship, 34 points clear of Hamilton.

After Bottas proved no real match for Hamilton, Russell has already beaten his experienced teammate seven times across the opening nine rounds, even if he has been helped by running more conservative set-ups.

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates his third position on the podium. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8,
George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates his third position on the…

Russell showed he had spectacular speed through his regular outstanding qualifying performances for Williams, but the most impressive aspect of this season so far has been his remarkable consistency.

He has already racked up three podiums and is the only driver to have finished inside the top five at every race this year, leaving him 73 points behind Verstappen.

Imagine what he could do in a more competitive car. If Mercedes can get on top of these regulations, Russell will surely be a force to be reckoned with in the coming years.

Lando Norris

Lando Norris was earmarked as potentially being Britain’s next superstar long before he made his F1 debut, thanks to his incredible record in junior categories.

Norris has gone from strength-to-strength since his rapid rise to F1 and has convincingly out-performed multiple grand prix race winner McLaren teammate Daniel Ricciardo over the last two years.

Despite not having front-running machinery, Norris already has one pole position to his name and he came agonisingly close to a stunning maiden F1 victory in Russia last year.

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8, Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Baku Street Circuit, Azerbaijan,
Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8, Azerbaijan…

The ever-improving Norris, who is just 22, has already shown glimpses of his seemingly limitless potential. It is surely only a matter of time before he finds himself fighting right at the sharp end for the world title.

It is no surprise that his starring performances have prompted McLaren to tie him down to a new long-term contract in a bid to warn their F1 rivals off the British sensation.

The big question is whether McLaren can provide Norris with a car capable of fighting for the world championship in the near future. How long is he willing to wait before he starts to look elsewhere?

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