2021 British Grand Prix: what to watch for


140,000 are set to descend on Silverstone for the 2021 British Grand Prix. Here's what they'll be focusing their eyeballs on

2020 Silverstone GP

Silverstone will host a full capacity crowd this weekend

Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

A capacity crowd at Silverstone will be treated to Formula 1’s first ever sprint qualifying race on Saturday before the main event on Sunday afternoon.

Max Verstappen and Red Bull have all the momentum but can a home crowd power Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes back to the top step or Lando Norris to another podium finish?

Mercedes will be hoping that its updates bring a little bit of pace this weekend, though the development cycle of its 2021 car is at an end and there isn’t much pace left to extract for the rest of the season.

Who will prevail in the midfield? McLaren has enjoyed headline results but Ferrari is making its race pace count more regularly despite a tyre set back in Austria. F1 will also be revealing the 2022 F1 car for the first time to full scale.

On track and off track, there’s plenty to keep up with this weekend at Silverstone. Here are a few things to keep an eye out for.


F1’s first sprint qualifying race

F1 2021 Austrian GP start

Will sprint qualifying shake up the grid?


On Saturday afternoon, Formula 1 will hold its first ever sprint qualifying race in the first of three such experiments planned to take place during the 2021 season.

Silverstone’s sprint will last for 17 laps (100km) in what many hope will be a chaotic and full-throttle affair from start to finish. The final order from the mini race on Saturday will set the grid for the full-distance race.

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Qualifying will instead take place on Friday evening in a later slot to allow as many fans to watch the session as possible. Results from Friday qualifying sets the grid for the sprint.

Points are on offer during sprint qualifying but only for the top trio. Three points will be awarded to the pole sitter, two to the runner-up and one to the third-place driver. There will not be a podium ceremony for the winner, with that still reserved for the race on Sunday.

Passing is not too difficult around the Silverstone circuit so there’s plenty of potential for a thrilling burst of action.


Mercedes updates

Lewis hamilton, 2021 Austrian GP

Mercedes has been left standing by Red Bull in recent races

Grand Prix Photo

Is it all over already? The 2021 title fight between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton had promised much in the early phase of the year as the duo traded victories, but as Red Bull has persevered with development of its ’21 car, the fight has become one-sided.

Mercedes says it is done with development of its W12 beyond what it already has in the pipeline but there is set to be an upgrade for this weekend.

There has been no declaration by Mercedes as to what the update will be nor what it will focus on fixing but Lewis Hamilton has downplayed its significance already. The reigning world champion says that without a boost in power, the championship could already be heading back to Red Bull after a long absence.

Still, Silverstone is usually a Mercedes track and with a capacity crowd in attendance, there is the chance of Hamilton adding an eighth British Grand Prix win to his resumé before the summer break.


First look at F1 2022

F1 2022

Fans will get a first look at F1 2022 this weekend


On Thursday, Formula 1 will unveil a 1:1 scale car of what F1 could look like next season.

The arrival of the postponed regulations is set to shake up the established order and help the wheel-to-wheel racing with greater emphasis placed on ground effect.

Fans will get the opportunity to see the car at Silverstone as well as get an explanation of what the new cars are meant to achieve, what’s been done to improve the racing and how they’ll achieve it.

An expert panel will explain the thinking behind the car as well as all of the aerodynamic innovation that will hopefully create cars that can follow one another much better than the current generation of car.

The 2022 preview will be livestreamed via F1’s official YouTube channel and Facebook page on Thursday at 3pm BST.


New tyres made to order

2021 AUstrian GP Lance Stroll

New Pirelli tyres will be used from this weekend

Marco Serena/NurPhoto via Getty Images

After a hastily arranged test during the Austrian Grand Prix weekend, teams will adopt new tyres that will be used for the remainder of the 2021 season.

The new tyres use a new rear construction with a more robust structure without adding to the weight of each tyre. They also incorporate elements planned for next year’s compounds of tyre when F1 switches from 13 to 18-inch tyres.

Pirelli head of F1 racing Mario Isola said that the feedback on the new tyres was overwhelmingly positive and that they had been likened to the C4 compound of tyres.

Teams were required to run at least 12 laps on the tyres during free practice for the Austrian Grand Prix, with several choosing to run the tyres again in final practice ahead of the race.

Whether or not they’ll improve the racing spectacle remains to be seen but with a sprint race also part of the proceedings this weekend, we’ll get a decent idea of if they have changed the competitive order.