Here’s what to look out for in Formula 1’s 2021 British Grand Prix

Verstappen’s fight alone

Sergio Perez’s spin on the exit of Becketts midway through F1’s sprint could prove to be a decisive moment in deciding the outcome of Sunday’s British Grand Prix with Max Verstappen left to fend Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas by himself. We’ve seen on countless occasions in 2021 that having two cars in the fight is so important.  

Of course, this could go out of the window should Verstappen have a similar level of performance to what we saw in the Austria double-header. Sprint qualifying gave us a nice spoiler that it shouldn’t be a repeat of Austria and it’s likely we will have a titanic battle for the victory.

Mercedes will have the strategic advantage by having both Hamilton and Bottas in play, while unlike in recent races, it has the straight-line speed to compete with Verstappen. The reigning world champions introduced upgrades to its floor while adopting a skinnier rear ring to improve its efficiency on the straights. Should Hamilton not be able to get Verstappen off the start, at least he has a couple of more weapons at his disposal this time around. 

Perez is starting from the pit lane as Red Bull will make significant changes to the car to allow him to better cut his way through the traffic, with the Mexican struggling with dirty air during the sprint race. Mercedes needs to capitalise with it trailing Red Bull by 44 points in the constructors’ championship. 

Untouchable Leclerc

Charles Leclerc continued to show why he’s a bit of a Silverstone specialist. It’s easy to criticise Leclerc for some of his reckless opening lap tangles but when he’s performing at his best, he’s right up there with Verstappen and Hamilton.

Leclerc remained within touching distance of Bottas in third, finishing just 11s off the lead in sprint qualifying, 13s ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris. Even though Ferrari’s 2020 challenger was uncompetitive, Leclerc finished third and fourth at the two Silverstone races. 

Ferrari trails McLaren by 19 points in the constructors’ championship with Norris enjoying an incredible season, finishing inside the top five at all but one race in 2021. If Ferrari wants to take the fight to McLaren, it needs Leclerc to show this level consistently, as Norris has done. 

Based on sprint qualifying, Leclerc should have a comfortable drive to fourth-place behind the leading trio. Granted, Norris did lose significant time behind Fernando Alonso during the early stages of the sprint, although when he cleared the two-time champion, Leclerc still had a significant pace advantage. 

Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz recovered from the back of the grid after a tangle with George Russell early on, showing the Italian marquee has the pace around Silverstone to cut McLaren’s gap in the constructors’ championship. 

Third time’s a charm for George

Russell’s chances of his first top ten finish for Williams were dealt a blow after he received a three-place grid penalty for causing an avoidable incident with Sainz on the opening lap. Regardless, 12th on the grid is a strong starting position for Russell and still allows him to fight for points in front of his own crowd. 

Russell narrowly missed out on a top ten finish last time out in Austria, losing out to Fernando Alonso in the closing laps, while a loss of air in the pneumatic system in the Styrian Grand Prix probably cost him a guaranteed points finish. The Mercedes-backed driver often falls back on the opening lap, suggesting his starts and position on Lap 1 could do with some work.

Based on sprint qualifying, overtaking looks tricky with a lack of a headwind reducing the impact of DRS, gaining track position early on will be crucial to Russell’s chances of ending Williams’ points drought. Even if he doesn’t, it’s still been a mighty weekend from Russell - making Q3 and qualifying inside the top ten for the second consecutive race. 


The high-speed, high load nature of Silverstone puts the front tyres under immense strain. Blistering plagued the majority of the field during the sprint and with full tanks at the start of today’s race, expect a similar story. 

All teams are handed free tyre choice for the race as part of F1’s new sprint qualifying format so don’t expect anyone to start on the softs. Pirelli reckons a two-stop strategy “is definitely slower” but Mercedes will be keen to avoid a repeat of the tyre blowouts that nearly cost Hamilton the British GP victory in 2020. 

The majority of midfield teams will likely favour a one-stop strategy but a second stop will always remain an option for the teams at the front, as we saw in Spain and France, should it prove difficult to make a move stick on track.