As the Formula One season rumbles on, the championship heads to the Silverstone circuit for today’s British Grand Prix.
Straddling the border between the UK counties of Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire, the 5.891km Silverstone track retains much of its rich motor racing heritage.
The track played host to the first Formula One Grand Prix in 1950 and has held the event 50 times since.
The start of the weekend was marked by news that Formula One and Silverstone had agreed to a new five-year contract to stage the Grand Prix.
It had been rumoured since 2017 that this year’s running may have been its last.
The news was welcomed by five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who hailed his local race track as he chases a record-breaking sixth British Grand Prix victory later today.
“The British Grand Prix is the most special grand prix of the year,” Hamilton said.
“Just the sheer magnitude of it and how many people come for the weekend and how many British flags you see around here...
“I’ve been very privileged over the years to obviously come here and have some spectacular races.”
Hamilton, though, is disappointed that the race is held on the same afternoon as the Wimbledon and Cricket World Cup finals.
“What I don’t understand is why the organisers put the race on the same day as all these other big events,” he said.
“I really don’t understand it. This is such a special weekend and it needs all the focus of the country and not a small amount.
“I think people will be switching between channels on Sunday, not sure what to watch. Naturally, I come here – there are a few of us Brits here – we come here to raise the flag and do the country proud.”
Mercedes expect a return to their dominant form, having been well off the pace at an unusually hot Austrian Grand Prix, where Ferrari and Red Bull firmly had the measure of the reigning champions – the latter storming to the race win courtesy of Max Verstappen’s valiant drive.
“Austria was a really special moment for everyone in the team and for Honda – all the hard work is beginning to pay off,” Verstappen said.
“I really enjoy Silverstone because of the high-speed corners, Maggots and Becketts being my favourite – it’s great fun to drive.
“Our factory is just down the road, so it’s another home race for the team and I hope we can continue our progress.”
The progress the Dutchman alludes to is Red Bull’s first win since Mexico last year and Honda’s first win since the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2006.
After a tumultuous few years with McLaren, the Japanese engine supplier’s developments have finally delivered a competitive engine.
Elsewhere, Ferrari believe they are finally on top of their development woes as they still chase that elusive victory this season, having lost a race for the third time this year in Austria.
Charles Leclerc was unable to keep the fast-charging Verstappen behind him and ultimately had to settle for second place.
Their upgrade path hasn’t produced the results they expected, but Sebastian Vettel believes they understand where their issues lie.
The quadruple-champion said: “Some parts didn’t turn out to work the way we wanted to during the French Grand Prix.
“Austria brought some clarity and I think we have a clear picture of what was wrong in terms of tuning and what needs to be changed,” Vettel said.
Hamilton has a commanding 31-point lead in the drivers’ standings from team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
Verstappen is a further 40 points behind on 126, while Vettel is on 123. Lights out for this afternoon’s Grand Prix will be 3.10pm.