Mercedes arrive with upgrades for circuit they have traditionally gone strongly at, but will it be enough to end Red Bull’s victory sequence?; Hamilton, meanwhile, also speaks about how he has been inspired by England players Rashford, Sancho and Saka for response to online racist abuse
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 15/07/21 11:29pm
Lewis Hamilton admits Mercedes need to ‘win’ on both Saturday and Sunday in the new-look British GP weekend as they aim to take momentum back from in-form Red Bull in the 2021 F1 title fight.
Hamilton and the Brackley-based Mercedes team head into their home event having last won a race two months ago in Spain, with rivals Red Bull since stringing together a run of five successive victories – four of which went to Max Verstappen, who leads the Drivers’ Championship by 32 points.
There are a maximum of 29 points on offer, three more than usual, to a driver at Silverstone thanks to the addition of the F1 Sprint event on Saturday – a 17-lap dash that offers three points to the winner and sets the grid for Sunday’s race – as part of a new-look race weekend which Hamilton says he feels “excited” about.
But he is also aware that wiping out their recent deficit to Red Bull will be no easy task, despite the addition of updates to Mercedes’ W12 car.
Verstappen’s two most recent wins at back-to-back events in Austria were especially emphatic although Mercedes are optimistic that the fast sweeps of Silverstone, a circuit they have won at on seven of their last nine attempts, will be more favourable for their car.
“We need to win both races at the end of the day,” said Hamilton to Sky Sports of the Saturday sprint and Sunday race.
“It’s not just the first one, it’s the second too.
“But, again, that’s going to be difficult. Do we have the single [lap] pace that they have? Unlikely, but we could be surprised [in qualifying]. Who knows?
“I’m trying to stay hopeful and positive. I’m really proud of all the men and women back at the factory who have worked so hard to bring this upgrade here. It’s a step in the right direction and I just hope that we can capitalise on it.”
Speaking later on the track during Sky’s F1 Show in front of the fans who returned Silverstone on Thursday, Hamilton said he and Mercedes were doing everything they could to maximise performance.
“I’m enjoying this season probably more than most because we’ve got that challenge we had at the beginning of the year, and it’s bringing me and the team closer,” he told Sky F1 pundit and former team-mate Jenson Button.
“It’s tough, man, and we love the challenge. Of course, the last few races we would have loved to have closer racing with the Red Bulls; the ones we had at the beginning of the year were awesome.
“But we’re working as hard as we can, we are literally trying to make sure we leave no stone unturned. From a driver’s point of view, I’m trying to push the boundaries on my training, my mental approach, how I am as a friend, as a son and a team-mate to the guys I’m working with.
“I hope in these next races, that can really show.”
The British Grand Prix starts on Friday, with opening practice at 2.30pm before the usual Qualifying session, taking place a day earlier than normal, at 6pm. The race weekend is live on Sky Sports F1.
Hamilton’s praise for ‘incredibly inspiring’ England players
Earlier this week, Hamilton condemned the online racist abuse suffered by England players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after they missed penalties in last Sunday’s Euro 2020 final at Wembley.
Hamilton, a leading voice in the fight against racism and whose commission into the reasons for a lack of diversity in motorsport published its findings this week and made 10 recommendations for change, spoke of his admiration for the way the England squad, both collectively and individually, handled the situation and expressed hope for the future.
“Love conquers all,” he said. “We do have a long way to go, we need to grow from these experiences, but I was really, really proud of how the England squad performed and how they handled it as a team.
“All coming from different backgrounds, but how they handled it as a team and particularly those individual players who were in the line of fire. How they handled it, hats off to them. Incredibly inspiring.
“As I said, there has been some really, really positive reaction from people and so many people throughout the country have been massively supportive.
“We are a proud nation, but it doesn’t mean we can’t continue to learn.”