Max Verstappen aiming for Silverstone knockout punch in World Championship battle

14-07-2021 09:30
Column
Max Verstappen aiming for Silverstone knockout punch in World Championship battle

The 2021 Formula 1 World Championship is currently far from over, and the result at the British Grand Prix won’t change that fact mathematically. But Max Verstappen could throw a metaphorical knockout punch and place rival Lewis Hamilton under the referees count with a strong performance around the Silverstone circuit. 

A venue that has become synonymous with Hamilton success. The seven-time World Champion returns to the track for the first time since the confirmation that they’ve named a straight after him. The British fans have some catching up to do after missing two Grands Prix at the circuit last season. 

Mercedes success

The Brit has won six races at Silverstone since the 2013 season. This automatic link with Hamilton’s success proves just how strong Mercedes have been at Silverstone. The layout has worked hand-in-hand with the strengths of the car, and despite regulation changes regarding downforce, there’s still a fair degree of confidence that the car will remain strong here. 

In contrast, Austria has never been a Mercedes track. In fact, it’s one of less than a handful of tracks that can be highlighted as troublesome for Mercedes. They’ve always had some kind of issue at Austria, including a double retirement in 2018. 

Over the last two Grands Prix weekends, Mercedes have been knocked out of the park. Verstappen completed two of his most dominant wins in Formula 1 to take a meaningful lead in the World Championship. A kick in the teeth to Toto Wolff and co, but one that they perhaps anticipated going on recent memories. 

Knockout punch loaded 

If Verstappen and Red Bull are able to replicate anywhere near that success in the East Midlands, then a knockout punch will be thrown. It will be an obvious indicator of just how far Red Bull have managed to come in such a short time.

Currently, Mercedes are banking on some of their stereotypically strong tracks to help them out in this Championship battle. If Red Bull are miles up the track this week, it will leave Mercedes stunned and provide many more headaches. The magnitude of the work they need to carry out increases. 

The Mercedes upgrades add to this. With just one practice session before ‘normal’ qualifying, neither Bottas nor Hamilton have time to test and find the right balance with these upgrades. 

Despite Wolff denying any upgrades in the pipeline at multiple tracks this year, they’re now coming. And, Hamilton, in particular, is resting his hopes on these upgrades. The 36-year-old has been rather vocal about upgrades in interviews recently.

If Red Bull beat Mercedes comfortably with these upgrades, then Verstappen and Perez have handed a major blow to their rivals. At this stage, it’s all ‘ifs and buts’. However, it’s all very plausible. 

Verstappen turning up to a historically good Mercedes track, in front of Hamilton’s home fans whose hero will be fitted with upgrades, and winning will be a knockout punch in this World Championship duel. It won’t be impossible for Hamilton to come back, but it really will put the defending champion on the back foot one race short of the summer break. 

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