Formula 1: The truth starts here at Silverstone

Formula 1: The truth starts here at Silverstone

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After nine Grands Prix more or less dominated by Max Verstappen, the British Grand Prix begins a series of traditional circuits which represent the last chance to beat the Red Bulls.

by
Luc Domenjoz

(Silverstone)

Novelties in series

The last three Grands Prix (Monaco, Baku and Montreal) took place on urban circuits so atypical that they do not really reflect the hierarchy between single-seaters. In addition, the latter will change again this weekend, because most teams bring here a large number of new features on which they have been working for several weeks, sometimes several months.

At Silverstone this weekend, the competitiveness between the teams will reveal what can be seen throughout the summer on circuits similar to the English layout – a historic track with fast curves. Ferrari, in particular, brought a new rear wing this weekend in order to reduce drag – and therefore lose less top speed against the Red Bulls, which overtook them too easily in a straight line.

A “slightly better” W13

Friday, Hamilton signed the 2nd time of the tests.

Friday, Hamilton signed the 2nd time of the tests.

REUTERS

Lewis Hamilton was very quick on the track during the Spanish Grand Prix two months ago. On a “traditional” circuit like that of Silverstone, with a much smoother surface than the urban tracks of Monaco, Baku or Montreal, the Briton therefore hopes to finally return to the front row in front of the 400,000 fans expected this weekend around the English tour.

Mercedes is also counting on this track, located 15 kilometers from its Brackley factory, to return to the forefront. The team aligns here a new front suspension, new sidepods, a modified bottom, and a new rear spoiler. Just that.

In Friday practice, Lewis Hamilton signed the second time and confirmed the best, but “light”, according to him. It will not yet be the car that will allow him to win races.

“Lewis is not doing his best”

Even though Lewis Hamilton’s current contract with Mercedes does not end until the end of 2023, former F1 kingpin Bernie Ecclestone believes the seven-time world champion will retire at the end of the season. “It seems to me that Lewis does not give his all,” says “uncle Bernie”. At 91, the Briton lives happy days in his chalet in Gstaad with his wife Fabiana and his two-year-old son, Ace.

This does not prevent him from knowing everything about the sport he has led for decades. And to keep many contacts who tell him everything. “I think Toto (Wolff, Mercedes boss, editor’s note) is fed up with Lewis. Because Lewis isn’t doing his best. It looks like he doesn’t care about losing, and that’s really not his style. For me, he lets himself go a little too easily, and he doesn’t help George (Russell) enough. He doesn’t want to try as hard to win as he did in the past.”

Bernie Ecclestone thus claims that the many activities of Lewis Hamilton begin to monopolize his energy. In recent weeks, there has been a lot of talk about the film that the pilot is preparing on F1, with Brad Pitt as the main actor. It seems that the seven-time world champion is putting a lot of energy into this blockbuster which will use virtual reality and should hit the screens in 2024.

A little further west

In the United States, in the good old days (the 90s, 2000s, or even 2010), the Formula 1 Grands Prix were little or not broadcast on television. Before, in the ’70s, it was worse. The ABC channel only broadcast the Monaco Grand Prix. For the rest, you had to read the newspapers! In recent years, ESPN has owned the rights to F1, which it paid $5 million from 2020 to 2022 – an extraordinarily small amount for a country with a potential population of 330 million.

But now, F1 has become very popular in the USA – the Netflix effect helping. The new broadcasting contract, about to be completed according to the “Sports Business Journal”, would weigh between 75 and 90 million dollars per year for three years. It would still be ESPN that would buy the rights, but with the sports channel now owned by the Disney group, the weight of this media behemoth could be thrown into shows framing the races or exclusive broadcasts on its network.

In the United States, the first five Grands Prix of this 2022 season are already showing a 53% increase in the number of viewers.


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