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Possible rule change again: British GP in 2022 another tipping point?

Possible rule change again: British GP in 2022 another tipping point?

27-06-2022 08:26 Last update: 08:38


The 2021 British Grand Prix was a major turning point in the season. The similarities with 2022 are great, so the question is can we expect a similar scenario at this year's British GP?

British GP in 2021

After the ninth round of the World Championship, Verstappen had a wide margin in the 2021 World Championship. The Dutchman was well in the lead of the championship after five wins, four of which came in the last five races. The races in Austria had done Lewis Hamilton little good, making his deficit already 32 points.

The British GP, however, proved to be a turning point. Prior to the weekend Pirelli had already announced the introduction of new, stiffer rear tyres. The rear tyres had previously been to Red Bull Racing's advantage, but Pirelli wanted to prevent blowouts with the stiffer construction of the tyre. This rule change in the middle of the season worked out particularly well for Mercedes.

The race weekend in England was also special because with a sprint race weekend there were more points to be earned. However, after an exciting qualifying session won by Hamilton, it was Verstappen who won the sprint race in front of his rival. This was a major setback for Hamilton, who had to fight back on Sunday.

This Hamilton did, but with great consequences. In the first lap Hamilton and Verstappen battled for a long time, until it went wrong in Copse. Verstappen had not closed the door completely, Hamilton came on the inside and in the corner neither gave way. Hamilton ran a little too wide, hit Verstappen and the latter ended up in the wall at full speed. Hamilton was given a ten-second penalty, but the lack of real opposition allowed him to claim victory.

After a season in which things had been very friendly between Hamilton and Verstappen up until that point, the bomb had really exploded. After the Grand Prix, Christian Horner's comments were harsh, but Verstappen also revealed on social media that he blamed Hamilton for his lack of respect with his elaborate party after the Grand Prix while Max was still in hospital for checks.

A tipping point at Silverstone in 2022 too?

It marked the turning point for the rest of the season. Where Red Bull and Verstappen were so dominant before the British GP, the new Pirelli tyre helped Mercedes back into contention. It was to be a spectacular season with Mercedes as the constructors' world champion and Verstappen as the drivers' champion.

Prior to the 2022 British Grand Prix, the situation is similar to that of last year. Verstappen is once again in the lead, having already won six races in nine. The gap to the number two and three is slightly bigger. Sergio Perez is 46 points behind, Charles Leclerc 49.

The Monegasque seems to be Verstappen's biggest rival and the two have been getting along very well so far. In karting, a title fight between the two also provided beautiful images, but the emotions seem to be more under control with both now. The question is, however, whether this, like Hamilton versus Verstappen, can also turn out this way.

In that respect it is remarkable that another rule change might be planned in England. After an urgent request from Mercedes, the FIA wants to reduce porpoising in F1. To this end, it intends to introduce guidelines that will require teams that bounce too much to raise their cars. The rule does not seem to affect Red Bull, but again there is a change halfway through the season.

This year there will be no sprint race at Silverstone. After the 2021 test, fans at the circuit will be treated to a normal race weekend this year. There will be no shortage of action, however, as Formula 2, Formula 3, W Series and Porsche Supercup will also be on track.

Verstappen versus Leclerc

The similarities with 2021 are clear. Two bantams (Leclerc and Verstappen) are fighting for the world title. Verstappen has a wide margin after a strong series, but the competition is not sleeping. Another rule change is imminent, but its continuation and possible impact are not yet clear.

Verstappen, Perez and Leclerc could of course experience the same moment as Hamilton and Verstappen in 2021, but the difference between the drivers in 2022 seems greater than in 2021. Ferrari is simply making too many mistakes for that. So while a moment may repeat itself, it does not have to bring about the same tipping point.