With football's World Cup about to kick off, the GP2 Series approaches half-time in its 2006 campaign, with round six of the season taking place at Silverstone in support of the British Grand Prix.

After the one-off round at Monaco, this weekend sees a return to the double-header format, with races ten and eleven replacing the tight tortuous streets with one of the fastest circuits the series visits. Silverstone presents a major challenge, both physically and technically, but offers the best chance of a home this weekend, with Lewis Hamilton on fire as he heads to his home circuit, and two other British contenders in the shape of three-time 2005 race winner Adam Carroll and debutant Mike Conway.

The new championship leader will be hoping to continue his Monaco momentum - where he took pole and a race win - in front of what is expected to be a partisan GP2 crowd - even if cheers for a win on Saturday will be mingled with those from the proposed coverage of England's first World Cup match on giant screens around the circuit. With McLaren keeping tabs - and a tight rein - on the British youngster, expect Hamilton to be the name on most people's lips this weekend.

The man looming largest in his championship mirrors, however, has vowed to get back on track at a circuit he may well know better than the Briton. Nelson Piquet Jr has a wealth of experience at Silverstone, having successfully campaigned in two British F3 championships, and will be hoping to take the fight to Hamilton on what is expected to be a weekend of Brazilian, rather than British, conditions. After a disappointing Monaco, Piquet finds himself ten points adrift of the ART upstart, and will be looking to redress both that and the disappointment of failing to finish either Silverstone race last year.

Having set the pace since winning the pole and opening race in Valencia back in April, Piquet currently finds himself in the middle of an ART Grand Prix sandwich, with Hamilton's team-mate Alex Premat now up to third place, albeit still six points behind the Brazilian, on 33. Premat is a self-confessed lover of Silverstone's flat-out sections and will be hoping to put team-mate Hamilton firmly in his place over the weekend. Despite outward appearances, the pair's relationship has been made more frosty by both the Briton's pace and Premat's move in Barcelona, and could yet set up a tasty intra-team battle.

Despite crashing heavily in qualifying and then being taken out by an errant Ferdinando Monfardini in Monaco, Ernesto Viso remains fourth overall on 26 points and, like Piquet, is returning to familiar ground after spending his F3 years in Britain. The iSport driver will want to get his Silverstone weekend off to a strong start, too, having won two sprint races but not yet featured on the top step in the higher-scoring features.

Viso will be pushed harder this weekend, following a handful of changes in the line-up, with Timo Glock moving over from the Venezuelan's former team, BCN, to join him at iSport. The switch is the result of Tristan Gommendy missing Silverstone, apparently with a back injury, but possibly with more long-term problems that have yet to be fully revealed. Glock's place at BCN is taken by former FMS favourite Luca Filippi, while Gommendy's fellow Frenchmen Nicolas Lapierre and Olivier Pla will be replaced by Neel Jani and debutant Mike Conway after suffering genuine injuries in Monaco. The blow is especially hard for the DPR driver, as he took his first win of 2005 at Silverstone and, after showing well early on in Monaco, would have hoped for his fortunes to continue rising in 2006.

Lapierre will almost certainly lose ground in the title race and could well slip behind Arden team-mate Michael Ammermuller in the points table, should the German dial himself quickly into another unfamiliar circuit. Ammermuller has only taken laps of Silverstone in a road car, but has shown himself to be a quick learner. Should things go his way on the weekend, the genial German should break the 25-point tie with Lapierre and take a stronger grip on fifth - or higher - in the standings. Having Jani alongside will help, as the Swiss driver, despite currently being 'distracted' by his Toro Rosso F1 duties, won two races in the inaugural GP2 campaign, albeit on grooved, rather, than slick tyres, and with greater levels of downforce to contend with.

While rookie Conway will set his sights a little lower as he gets used to a GP2 car in public, fellow Briton Adam Carroll will be hoping to reignite his season with a home win, this time with Racing Engineering. The year has not gone right for the three-time 2005 winner since before his roll in Valencia, but both Carroll and the team have shown flashes of inspiration, and have made it to the podium. Another to have plied his trade in British F3 - and other categories below that - Carroll could be a potential dark horse this time out.

Others who will be familiar with the Silverstone grand prix layout, other than those who raced there last year, include Lucas di Grassi, who will be looking to turn his year around on the back of fastest lap in Monaco, and backmarkers Fairuz Fauzy and Jason Tahinci, who both also raced junior formulae in the UK.

Franck Perera, buoyed by a podium result in Monaco, will again be out to show that he is one of the fastest men in GP2 - at least over one lap - as he takes on the season's second fastest circuit in qualifying, while Jose Maria Lopez, Gianmaria Bruni and Giorgio Pantano will all hope that extensive previous experience - of both GP2 and Silverstone - pays dividends as they attempt to get some sort of title challenge on track.

The weather could be the biggest factor this weekend, with tropical temperatures forecast despite the races taking place in June, rather than the usual July - again because of the football. Saturday's feature race follows the earlier-than-usual F1 qualifying, but will face opposition from England v Paraguay, while the Sunday sprint is scheduled for the more familiar 9am, despite the grand prix itself being brought forward an hour.



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