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Silverstone: Lewis Hamilton is aiming to bounce back from a rare weekend of disappointment by winning his home British Grand Prix for a record sixth time this weekend — and in front of the biggest crowd at the historic Silverstone circuit in nearly three decades.
After suffering in the heat and rarefied atmosphere of Austria’s Styrian Alps, where he finished a hot-and-bothered fifth two weeks ago, the defending world champion and his Mercedes team are expected to revel in the gentler undulations and wider mix of corners in cooler conditions in central England.
A sixth victory overall and fifth in six years at a track he loves would also be his seventh in 10 races this year and extend his 31-point lead ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the drivers’ championship.
“This is the race that has become the most anticipated event of the season for me and it is the weekend I always enjoy the most,” said Hamilton, who was quick to celebrate Wednesday’s confirmation of a new five-year contract that will keep the British Grand Prix on the Formula One calendar until 2024.
“Having the support of your country concentrated into one weekend really makes for the most incredible few days. It is difficult to count what you gain from all that positivity — everyone’s energy is priceless.”
If he wins, Hamilton will move clear of fellow Briton Jim Clark and Frenchman Alain Prost, with whom he shares the current record of five wins. After suffering their first defeat after an unprecedented run of eight victories, Mercedes are keen to restore their supremacy in the team’s home event — both the car and engine factories are based close to Silverstone.
“The high temperatures in Austria exposed our vulnerability and meant we could not challenge to win,” said team boss Toto Wolff. “But, fortunately, the English summer is known for more moderate temperatures so cooling should not be such a major issue.
“We’ve had some of our best performances this year on tracks with a wide range of corner speeds so, on paper, we should be in relatively good form.” His Ferrari counterpart Mattia Binotto played down their chances of a repeat of Sebastian Vettel’s triumph last year, despite their stronger showing in Austria where Charles Leclerc finished second from pole behind the triumphant Max Verstappen of Red Bull. Four-time world champion Vettel has gone 17 races since last August without a win and lies 76 points adrift of Hamilton in the title race. The Silverstone circuit, once a wartime airfield, hosted the first World Championship Grand Prix in 1950. (AFP)