7 burning questions for the British Grand Prix


One of the most climactic moments in recent Formula 1 memory took place just a few short days ago when an on-track battle between Lando Norris and Max Verstappen — that has been brewing for weeks — finally boiled over. A collision between the two on Lap 64 of the Austrian Grand Prix kicked off hours of debate over who was at fault, and speculation about what lies ahead.

However, the time for talking draws to a close quickly this week, as the British Grand Prix at the historic Silverstone Circuit is set to get underway, the final race of an F1 tripleheader that has taken the grid from Barcelona to Austria and now Silverstone … while changing the complexion of the F1 season.

Here are the tk burning questions ahead of the British Grand Prix.

Where do Max and Lando go from here?

This question is critical not just for the British Grand Prix, but for the rest of the 2024 F1 season, if not beyond.

Where do Lando Norris and Max Verstappen go from here?

Is their on-track battle which has been simmering for weeks — and the subsequent Lap 64 collision — the moment that changes everything on the grid? Or will a few days of respite and some internal discussions, perhaps even a pint or two, see both parties move on from the incident and turn the page? And what happens if, as expected, these two lock horns in Silverstone or beyond? Will either driver approach things differently in the wake of Austria?

Over on social media at least, there is hope that in the days and weeks ahead the two teams and drivers emphasize hard but fair racing, as the “Norris versus Verstappen” battle that is shaping up looks to be the most intriguing title fight since 2021. But, as we will note in a minute, that season was not without its share of controversial moments, beyond the final laps of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Then there is the potential for what things look like at Media Day Thursday. The bevy of post-race questions and answers in Austria seemed primed to build the incident into something even bigger, but will the assembled media look to move beyond the incident itself and to the future, or will the incident and what it means on a personal level be the focus?

Then there is the fact that the grid leaves Austria and Red Bull Ring behind to make the trip across the English Channel to Silverstone and the British Grand Prix, a home race for Norris. Will what is sure to be a charged environment factor into the equation?

Where Norris and Verstappen go from here is the burning question in the sport right now, and starting in just a few hours we will get our first glimpse at how that question is answered.

How will race officials handle things going forward?

Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

One of the more fascinating viewpoints on the Norris-Verstappen clash came from McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella. As you might expect, the McLaren boss backed his driver to the fullest.

But he also had some criticism for how race officials have handled similar battles in the past.

Speaking with Ted Kravitz of Sky Sports F1 immediately after the Austrian Grand Prix, Stella pointed to how race stewards often took a hands-off approach in the past. “I see that the entire population in the world would know who is responsible except for a group of people,” began the McLaren boss to Kravitz.

“But the problem behind it is that if you don’t address these things honestly, they will come back. They have come back today because they were not addressed properly in the past when there were some fights with Lewis [Hamilton] that needed to be punished in a harsher way. You learn now to race in a certain way, which we can consider fair and square.”

Kravitz immediately pointed to the 2021 São Paulo Grand Prix which saw a similar duel between Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, and an incident where it appeared to many watching that Verstappen had forced Hamilton off the track. But race officials took no further action.

You can see that incident here and make your own determination.

Returning to Stella, the McLaren boss indicated that Brazil 2021 was just one of “many” such incidents.

“Yes, there is many episodes,” continued the McLaren boss. “The fact is that we have so much respect for Red Bull, so much respect for Max – they don’t need to do this. It’s a way to almost compromise your reputation. Why would you do that?”

Stella then concluded his thoughts with Kravitz.

“I think the stewards found that Max was fully to blame in this episode. So it’s not about racing in a drivers’ way, it’s about racing within the regulations,” said Stella. “And the regulations must be enforced in a way that is effective, because when a car is out of the race as a consequence of this accident, the punishment needs to be proportionate to the outcome.

“And we had twice before that episode moving under braking. So I think it’s just evident we have to enforce the way to go racing because we want to have fun, we want to enjoy.”

So that leads us to the race stewards now, and how they will handle matters going forward. They may point to the penalty handed down to Verstappen in Austria — the ten-second penalty along with two points on his Super License finding him “predominantly at fault” for the collision — as a sign that they are intervening to ward off any further incidents on the track. Perhaps they are right. But you best believe that if the #1 and the #4 come close this weekend, a lot of eyes will be watching.

Not just the two drivers, but the race stewards as well.

Can Meredes keep their hot streak going?

As we have noted over the past few days the hottest team in F1 over the past three race weekends?

Mercedes.

Upgrades the team started rolling out at the Miami Grand Prix began bearing fruit in Imola and Monaco but turned into something of a bumper crop since then. Over the past three race weekends, the Silver Arrows have banked 100 points, more than any other team on the grid, including both Red Bull and McLaren.

And as we will see in a moment, much more than Ferrari.

Can Mercedes keep this streak going at Silverstone?

Word out of the team was optimistic on that front in the hours after George Russell’s win in Austria. In the team’s post-race report on Sunday Lewis Hamilton noted that Silverstone might suit the current configuration of the W15. “We now look ahead to Silverstone,” said Hamilton. “It is always such a special weekend, and I can’t wait to see all the fans there. It is a track that should hopefully suit us a little better than here in Austria so let’s see what we can do.”

Along similar lines, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff outlined that the success in Austria on a track that has not always been fertile ground for the team illustrates just how far they have come. “We now look forward to Silverstone next week. We are encouraged by our overall performance this weekend at a track that has not normally been a [favorite] for our cars,” said Wolff. “Our aim over the next few races is to continue to show progress and aim to get closer to the front.”

Can they keep it rolling this week?

Will we finally learn where Carlos Sainz Jr. is headed?

F1 Grand Prix of Austria

Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

The clash between Lando Norris and Max Verstappen knocked what was the top-line question on the mind of everyone associated with F1:

Where is Carlos Sainz Jr. headed for next season?

Sainz remains the big fish in the driver transfer market, and while all signs pointed to the Spanish driver signing on the dotted line with Williams for next year, Alpine has emerged in recent weeks as a serious contender for his services.

Sainz outlined ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix that a decision was coming “soon,” but seemed to take a different approach in the moments after his podium finish in Austria. When asked about his contract situation after finishing third in the Austrian Grand Prix Sainz indicated he was not going to be pressured into deciding before he was ready.

“As I said before, for sure that pressure, I’m not going to receive it on a Sunday afternoon after a podium we are keen to enjoy. As I said before, I think it’s sometimes, like George was saying, we take it for granted when we’re on one of these podiums, celebrating, wearing a Ferrari suit, and I was thinking, try to enjoy this moment because who knows when it’s going to be the next time in the future,” said Sainz at the post-race FIA Press Conference Sunday. “So as much as maybe there are some teams that are nervous or pressuring me, it’s time for me also to enjoy this moment of being on a podium.

“And I’m going to be honest and straightforward with the teams, but it’s such an important decision for me also that I’m going to take all the time that I need to take it. And if there’s teams that cannot wait or are a bit impatient, I cannot do anything about it. It’s going to be my future, my decision, and I’m going to try and be as honest as possible with everyone and give myself the time that I need.”

If — hypothetically — Sainz were to sign with Williams, announcing it ahead of the British Grand Prix might be something the Grove-based outfit would be keen to do. Will that be what happens this week, or will this decision linger past the British Grand Prix, and perhaps into the summer shutdown and beyond?

If so, will that open the driver market floodgates?

If Sainz does announce his 2025 destination this week, will that open the 2025 driver floodgates?

Multiple drivers in recent weeks have pointed to Sainz as, to use the phrasing utilized by Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, the “cork in the bottle.” Speaking ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix during the FIA Press Conference Magnussen raised that notion when asked about his F1 future.

“He is,” said Magnussen while gesturing to Sainz when asked about why a decision was taking so long. “Carlos is the cork in the bottle. I think a lot of guys are waiting for him to make a move and then eventually all the other pieces of the puzzle will fall. That’s the truth of that.”

Magnussen found support in Zhou Guanyu a week later. During the Thursday driver press conference, the Kick Sauber driver had this to say when asked about his 2025 plans. “Like, it’s very easy to say: we’re all waiting for what Carlos wants to decide at the end of the day. But hopefully he can make his decision sooner,” said Zhou. “And then I think that will just turn around a lot the driver market.”

Looking at the options in front of teams and drivers alike, you can see how Sainz is that proverbial “cork in the bottle.” Assuming for the sake of this hypothetical Sainz decides to sign with Williams, which takes away one more seat for the drivers looking for a ride. That might see Alpine move towards either Jack Doohan or Mick Schumacher as an option, then Valtteri Bottas contemplating a return to Kick Sauber, and then perhaps Esteban Ocon taking one of the spots at Haas.

However, should Sainz shock the paddock and sign with Alpine, then the Williams seat could be the landing spot for Bottas, opening up Zhou for a return to Kick Sauber, and then on down the line.

So if Sainz does declare his 2025 intentions, it could certainly set several moves into motion.

If Sainz does announce his 2025 destination this week, will that open the 2025 driver floodgates?

Multiple drivers in recent weeks have pointed to Sainz as, to use the phrasing utilized by Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, the “cork in the bottle.” Speaking ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix during the FIA Press Conference Magnussen raised that notion when asked about his F1 future.

“He is,” said Magnussen while gesturing to Sainz when asked about why a decision was taking so long. “Carlos is the cork in the bottle. I think a lot of guys are waiting for him to make a move and then eventually all the other pieces of the puzzle will fall. That’s the truth of that.”

Magnussen found support in Zhou Guanyu a week later. During the Thursday driver press conference, the Kick Sauber driver had this to say when asked about his 2025 plans. “Like, it’s very easy to say: we’re all waiting for what Carlos wants to decide at the end of the day. But hopefully he can make his decision sooner,” said Zhou. “And then I think that will just turn around a lot the driver market.”

Looking at the options in front of teams and drivers alike, you can see how Sainz is that proverbial “cork in the bottle.” Assuming for the sake of this hypothetical Sainz decides to sign with Williams, which takes away one more seat for the drivers looking for a ride. That might see Alpine move towards either Jack Doohan or Mick Schumacher as an option, then Valtteri Bottas contemplating a return to Kick Sauber, and then perhaps Esteban Ocon taking one of the spots at Haas.

However, should Sainz shock the paddock and sign with Alpine, then the Williams seat could be the landing spot for Bottas, opening up Zhou for a return to Kick Sauber, and then on down the line.

So if Sainz does declare his 2025 intentions, it could certainly set several moves into motion.

Can Ferrari stop the bleeding?

Forget Sainz’s future team, what about his present one?

As noted above Mercedes has been the hottest team in F1 over the past three race weekends. But looking at the top four teams in the Constructors’ Championship standings, the team that has been the coldest?

Ferrari.

While Mercedes leads the way with 100 points over that period, followed by 84 for McLaren and 79 for Red Bull, Ferrari has just 39 points during this recent stretch. Following Charles Leclerc’s triumphant drive at the Monaco Grand Prix (and a podium finish for Sainz in that race), Ferrari has struggled.

Ferrari endured a difficult week in Montreal, as they endured a points-less result in the Canadian Grand Prix. Barcelona was a step better, as Leclerc delivered a P5 and Sainz a P6, but Austria saw another step back for Leclerc, as he finished seventh in the F1 Sprint Race, and out of the points in the main event.

Sainz salvaged something bigger for the team with his podium finish in the Austrian Grand Prix, but the Scuderia have seen their rivals either pull closer to them in the standings (looking at McLaren and Mercedes) or pull further away from them in Red Bull’s case.

Can they turn things around at Silverstone?

“I think, if anything, it just proves that the last two weekends haven’t been easy,” said Sainz on Sunday when asked about the team’s recent struggles. “We’ve been always the first Ferrari finishing behind the first Mercedes. Even if you count Canada, you could argue those three weekends in a row. So I think Red Bull and McLaren were in a league of their own this weekend. Then there was a step. There was George and me battling for that P3, P4. And yeah, that was not the situation at the beginning of the year.

“So it shows that we need to work hard. We need to understand what’s happened the last couple of races. And once we understand it, hopefully already for Silverstone, we can bring a step and improve our performance.”

Regarding Silverstone, Sainz indicated that the team was working hard back in Maranello to try and deliver the upgrades needed to boost performance, particularly in the higher-speed corners.

“Well, I see the factory pushing flat out, you know, to understand the troubles that we’ve hit in the last couple of weekends and trying to bring already for Silverstone a package that allows us to perform a bit better in the high-speed corners because it’s clearly been our weakness,” said Sainz. “Yesterday, Max was so much quicker through there, but not only Max, also Mercedes and McLaren were a clear step ahead of us in those type of corners. And we know Silverstone is the king of the high speed, so we need to do a step. Obviously, we want to be competitive there. And we are going to fight everything we can and try to find everything we can, sorry, to make ourselves more competitive there.”

With the quick turnaround, Ferrari is under tremendous pressure to deliver this weekend and stem the tide.

Which young driver shines in practice?

Formula 2 Championship - Round 7 Spielberg - Practice & Qualifying

Photo by James Sutton – Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images

Two teams have already announced that young drivers will be handling driving duties in at least one practice session at Silverstone. Williams announced that Franco Colapinto would be stepping in for Logan Sargeant during FP1, while Oliver Bearman will be getting in the cockpit of the VF-24 for the third of his six scheduled practice sessions for Haas this season. Bearman’s most recent FP1 session for Haas came at the Spanish Grand Prix when he finished 19th out of 20 drivers in the opening segment of practice. Update: Alpine has since confirmed that Jack Doohan will be driving in FP1 on Friday. That announcement comes ahead of next week’s critical testing session alongside Mick Schumacher

For Colapinto, this is just his second time in the cockpit of an F1 car, and his first F1 session. His debut in an F1 car came at post-season testing in Abu Dhabi last winter.

“I have so many emotions. I am extremely delighted and it’s a very important moment in my life and my career. I will be the most prepared I can; I will be doing a lot of laps in the simulator and studying the details needed to drive this year’s car. I’m really looking forward to experiencing the new car after driving last year’s in Abu Dhabi,” said Colapinto in the team’s announcement. “To be able to drive it at a track like Silverstone is a privilege, it is one of my favourite tracks and to drive it at the team’s home race means a lot. To all the Argentine fans – I hope you enjoy FP1 as much as I’m going to! It’s an important moment for our country and I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve been given. I’m going to give my all to make you proud!”

For Bearman, however, this is his third stint in a practice session for Haas this season, and it comes not only in a season where he made his F1 debut — and scored his first points — replacing an ailing Carlos Sainz Jr. in Saudi Arabia, but also as many expect he will be in a seat at Haas full-time next year.

And Haas team boss Ayao Komatsu admitted earlier this year that Bearman was “under consideration” for a seat. “Of course we are evaluating him,” said Komatsu. “If he is not [under] consideration, we wouldn’t be running him in FP1.”

How will these two young drivers take to the track this weekend, and will Bearman inch closer to a full-time spot in the grid?



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