Silverstone marks the halfway point of the 2008 season. Ferrari look like they’re going to walk the constructors’ championship, but four drivers – Felipe Massa, Robert Kubica, Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton – are in the throes of a fabulous fight for the drivers’ title.
Lewis is ten points behind championship leader Massa, so the title is still very much game on (Raikkonen was 20 points adrift of Hamilton this time last year, but went on to take overall honours). However, after two pointless races in Montreal and Magny Cours, it’s time for Lewis to get serious; it’s time for him to control his impetuousness and score some points.
A home victory looks difficult, however, because the Ferraris will be awesome through Silverstone’s fast sweeps. The F2008 is the most aerodynamically efficient car on the grid, making a Raikkonen win the most likely result after 59 laps of racing. 'We were quick at Magny Cours,' says Kimi, who was forced to hand victory in France to his team-mate after technical problems, 'and I expect us to be even quicker at Silverstone.'
With no grid penalties hanging over their drivers this weekend (at least not yet…), McLaren can expect to be best of the rest. Lewis finished third at Silverstone last year and a repeat performance would be a good result given the pace of the red cars. It’s not the result the sell-out crowd will want, but anything better will need the Ferraris to falter.
Of the other Brits, expect David Coulthard to have a better weekend than Jenson Button. The Adrian Newey-Geoff Willis technical partnership at Red Bull Racing is finally bearing fruit and the RB4 is particularly strong on aero-sensitive tracks such as Silverstone. DC’s twice a winner at home and he’s still as brave as a lion, even after all these years.
As for Jenson, he’ll be giving it loads in the Honda, but – yet again – he doesn’t have the machinery to do his prodigious talent justice. A new aero package at this race might bring out some much-needed extra performance, but the chances are you’ll still have to look for JB’s name at the lower end of the mid-field.
Renault should be mixing it with the BMWs and the Red Bulls, and watch out for Nelson Piquet in the second R28. During his two seasons in British Formula 3, he was renowned as a Silverstone specialist and it’s likely that he’ll keep his illustrious team-mate Fernando Alonso honest this weekend.
If you’re coming to the race and want to know where to watch, a quick word of advice: walk around the outside of the track to the entry of Becketts. The cars pass within a couple of feet of the spectator area flat-in-seventh gear; it’s the best place in the world to watch F1 cars.