Max Verstappen has won the last three races with his Red Bull and is 32 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ championship.
Max Verstappen is currently leading the driver’s championship race with 182 points. PA
There is a change in Formula 1 qualifying at this weekend’s British Grand Prix and there could be the strongest signal yet that there will be a change of champion.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has dominated the sport for so long and won the title six times in the past seven seasons. But the defending champion, who is aiming for a record-breaking eighth crown, has not won a race since the Spanish GP on May 9, a dismal streak of five grand prix.
In contrast, Max Verstappen has won the last three races with his Red Bull and is 32 points ahead of Hamilton in the championship.
A fourth straight win – and on Mercedes’ favorite track – would see Verstappen set a solid scorer.
“We’ve had proper testing before,” Verstappen said Thursday. “So it’s just another weekend that we’re trying to win. And if we can, we’ll win, and if we can’t, we’ll end up somewhere else. “
Silverstone has long been a stronghold of Mercedes, with the team having won seven of Britain’s last eight GPs. Hamilton won six.
However, Verstappen won Silverstone’s second race last year, the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.
“We are very focused. Just ready for the race weekend again, ”said Verstappen. “Of course we’ve been happy with the last few races, but we’re always looking for things we can do better and that’s what we’ll try to do again this weekend.
“They (Mercedes) are making improvements so naturally I think if they work, they’ll be closer.”
This weekend will also see the start of the sprint qualifying.
Rather than the standard format of two practice on Friday and a third practice and qualifying on Saturday, there will be one practice on Friday followed by a qualifying session which will determine the grid for the sprint qualifying on Saturday.
The sprints will stretch over 100 kilometers and the top three will also receive points for the championship. First place will receive three points, second place two points and third place one point.
Hamilton, who has worked hard in the simulator, is hoping it will help revive his title defense.
The British driver is also convinced that a tight crowd at Silverstone can cheer him on for the win and prevent Verstappen and Red Bull from running away with the title.
“With all of these elements, I hope and pray. Whether that’s the case, we won’t know until tomorrow, ”said Hamilton. “And also another element is this sprint race that we have, this new format. Of course it’s easy for any of us to go wrong, but there are opportunities out there that are exciting.
“We always talked about the energy and the buzz that the fans bring,” he continued. “And without a doubt, when it’s your home grand prix and it’s the British public, you come with more, you have more warmth behind you. I hope all of them together close this nice gap that these guys have dug and will allow us to fill it this weekend.