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Aussie watch ahead of the F1® British Grand Prix 2024

Matt Clayton
Thursday, 4 July 2024

After a fractious Austrian Grand Prix with a familiar undertone, F1® immediately heads ‘home’ to Silverstone this weekend, where Oscar Piastri returns to the track where he began to turn into a regular contender for the biggest prizes.

The number one British driver of the day was on the attack against Max Verstappen, and the Red Bull Racing driver was having none of it. Contact was inevitable, and when it came, the crowd roared – and the subsequent reaction was as partizan as it was predictable. 

Last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix? No, the 2021 British Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton refused to yield to Verstappen in a wheel-to-wheel standoff that saw Verstappen in the barriers on the first lap of the race, with the TV coverage we receive in Australia and Verstappen’s team boss Christian Horner offering their (ahem) differing, perfectly rational and unbiased opinions on one of many flashpoints that season …

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Formula 1® returns to Silverstone this weekend for the British Grand Prix (July 5-7), one that will be played out against a similar backdrop after Lando Norris and Verstappen clashed for the lead in Austria last Sunday in a stoush that had no winners other than George Russell and Mercedes. 

There’s unlikely to be a repeat of the enmity that punctuated the Hamilton vs Verstappen 2021 title fight between Norris and the Dutchman given their friendship, but there’s equally no sign that Verstappen’s approach when challenged for wins has changed much in the ensuing years. If Norris and McLaren continue the upward trajectory they’ve shown for much of 2024, this is a story that will keep smouldering the longer the season goes. 

Silverstone marks the halfway stage of the F1® campaign, and while this weekend’s TV commentary will be delivered with a Union Flag hue, there’s plenty of other Aussie-adjacent talking points for Round 12 of the 24-event calendar. 

The anniversary of Piastri’s arrival 

Can you imagine a nine-race run where Oscar Piastri would score five points these days? Us neither … but that’s where the Australian was coming into the 10th round of his rookie campaign last year, as McLaren’s mid-season surge had yet to fully kick in. 

Since? Silverstone was the start of what has seen Piastri go from fresh face at the front to Sprint race winner and Grand Prix podium regular. Piastri was fourth at Silverstone last year and unlucky to be kicked off the podium through strategy, while Austria – where he finished second in both the Sprint and Grand Prix – make it three top-three results in the past four weekends. 

With Sergio Perez managing to score just 11 points in the past five races in a car that’s leading the world championship handsomely in Verstappen’s hands, Piastri could well be inside the top five in the standings by the end of this weekend on current form; in that same timeframe, the 23-year-old has amassed 59 points. Fights with the three-time world champion are clearly in the McLaren, and it’ll make for interesting viewing if the uncompromising Piastri is in them before long.  


Ricciardo gets defensive  

Scoring points while looking backwards isn’t the preference of any driver, but given Daniel Ricciardo’s season and the constant speculation of what’ll happen next, they’ll do more than nicely. In his 250th Grand Prix in Austria, RB put Ricciardo in a position to get track position and fight to keep it with a long stint on hard tyres; Ricciardo kept up his part of the bargain and Pierre Gasly’s faster Alpine behind him to score points for the second time on a Sunday this season. 

It was a result that defied expectations to a degree, as RB’s upgrades – first used in Spain, where Ricciardo and teammate Yuki Tsunoda struggled massively – are very much a work in progress. But it was also one that showed Ricciardo, on his best days, can still deliver what a driver in a mid-grid car can in a race with next-to-no attrition up front. 

Silverstone is always a special venue for the now 35-year-old; 2011 was when Ricciardo made his debut at the wheel of an HRT entry that was an F1 car in name, if not performance. It’s 10 years since his one podium at the track (third in 2014 for Red Bull), and two years since he last raced there for McLaren given his 2023 return came in Hungary a fortnight later.


End to a Hamilton era

Russell picking up the pieces in Austria when Verstappen and Norris collided was unexpected, and a reminder that, in two-and-a-half years as teammates, Russell has Mercedes’ two most recent F1 victories, Hamilton on a 56-race winless run ahead of Silverstone this weekend.

That’s the sad reality for the 39-year-old, but the thought of one final race for Mercedes at his home GP before moving to Ferrari for next season should turn that frown upside down. Hamilton, the Silver Arrows and Silverstone has been a match made in heaven over the years, with seven of the seven-time world champion’s eight British Grand Prix wins coming in Mercedes machinery.

Hamilton is on a remarkable 10-race run of podiums at home, and his eight wins at one Grand Prix are tied for the record for most victories by one driver in one race (for the record, the others are Michael Schumacher and France, and Hamilton himself in Hungary). While he’s been the slower of the Mercedes drivers this season, out-qualified 9-2 and out-scored 111-85 by Russell, you wouldn’t put an 11th consecutive home podium past Hamilton given he’s finished fourth or better in the past three races.

Great Britain fast facts
Circuit name/location: Silverstone, Northamptonshire
Length/laps: 5.891km, 52 laps
Grands Prix held/debut: 57, 1950
Most successful driver: Lewis Hamilton (eight wins)
Most successful team: Ferrari (15 wins)
2023 podium: 1st: Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing), 2nd: Lando Norris (McLaren), 3rd: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

The Formula 1® British Grand Prix 2024 will be available to watch live on Foxtel and Kayo. See our article What time does the F1® British Grand Prix 2024 start for Australians? for your local timings.