The British Grand Prix will play host to yet more Formula One history this weekend, as the FIA samples their new Sprint Race Qualifying format for the first time.

Following practice on Friday afternoon, the teams will qualify in the usual way (with Q1, Q2 and Q3) which will set the grid for Saturday’s 100km sprint race. Teams will be able to choose whatever tyre they would like for the race and do not have to stop, meaning it’s a straight sprint to the finish. The result from the Sprint Race will then set the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix, with first place taking three World Championship points, two for second place and one for third.

It remains to be seen what impact this will have on the race itself, but it should produce more excitement for the fans. We preview the historic race below.

Mercedes may make a return to the front

A few weeks ago in France, Red Bull boss Christian Horner declared: “if we can beat Mercedes here, we can beat them anywhere.” Max Verstappen duly won the race to really lay down the gauntlet to the seven-time world champions by beating them at one of their stronger tracks.

The same very much applies here. Mercedes are based just down the road from Silverstone and Lewis Hamilton has won there six times for the Silver Arrows, and seven times overall. If Red Bull can win here, they definitely can win anywhere. It’s not out of the question that they will either, with Verstappen winning here last year in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.

At times in Austria, Red Bull clearly had the straight-line speed advantage of Mercedes, something that has rarely been the case in the turbo-hybrid era, but the Red Bull Ring is a rather different track to the fast corners and direction changes of Silverstone, so getting the set-ups right in just a single practice session will be key in a weekend with two races.

Verstappen is 8/13 to be the fastest qualifier and 8/11 to win on Sunday, with Hamilton 15/8 to claim pole position and 7/4 to win an eighth British Grand Prix.

The British hopefuls

Much talk within the paddock has centred around two young British drivers, as Lando Norris continues to provide consistently impressive results for McLaren and George Russell continues to be touted for the second Mercedes seat next season.

Although Russell is yet to score his first point for Williams, he has continued to impress on Saturdays. He’s never been outqualified by a team-mate at Williams and made it to Q3 on the medium tyre in Austria, before qualifying ninth overall. He was then narrowly denied his first Williams point following an epic battle with Fernando Alonso. Whilst Valtteri Bottas continues to struggle at times in his Mercedes and Russell continues to perform, the questions will continue to be asked and a point at his home race would do no harm in staking his claim. Russell is currently 11/8 to finish in the points.

Norris, meanwhile, has already scored more points in 2021 than he did in the entire of 2020 and took his third podium of the season last time out in Austria. He has impressed many with his mature performances and the way he has stepped into a team leadership role as team-mate Daniel Ricciardo has struggled to get to grips with his new machinery. A podium at his home race is currently 3/1 and would bring his season to a new high.

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