Max Verstappen is aiming for his fifth consecutive pole position in Saturday’s British Grand Prix qualifying session and the championship leader is a warm order in the betting to achieve it.
The Dutchman has been in a class of his own this season and his Red Bull car had been expected to be well suited to the fast, flowing corners of Silverstone. The early signs were certainly good for Verstappen, as he set the fastest time in opening practice by 0.4 seconds ahead of his team-mate Sergio Perez.
But while the fans at Silverstone on Friday were bathed in sunshine it could be a different story come qualifying, as stormy showers are expected throughout the day.
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British Grand Prix track guide
Debut season – 1950
Track length – 5.891km
Number of turns – 18
Most wins – Lewis Hamilton (8)
Most poles – Lewis Hamilton (7)
2022 winner – Carlos Sainz
The former airfield at Silverstone was chosen as the venue for the opening round of the new Formula 1 World Championship for Drivers in 1950, and has hosted more F1 Grands Prix than any other circuit except for Monza in Italy.
The layout has changed a number of times over the years, but the track has retained its character as a high-speed test with sweeping corners and long sections of full-throttle running.
Weather can often play a part in the British Grand Prix – there have been some horrendous downpours on race weekend, while the open countryside setting means that wind can upset the balance of the cars.
British Grand Prix qualifying predictions
Fernando Alonso to be fastest qualifier (each-way) at 12/1
Rain in qualifying can lead to more unpredictable results than rain in a race. That’s because drivers take to the track at different times to set their attempts at a good grid position. When the weather is changeable, being on track at the right time can be far more important than the speed of the car they’re sitting in.
There were some fine examples of that in Canada last month. Alexander Albon was fastest for Williams in the second segment of qualifying, having been on track when conditions were at their most favourable, while bigger names like Perez and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz were eliminated before the final top-ten shootout.
Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso has proved to be a master of judging changing conditions. His second place on the grid in Montreal was one of four front-row starts the Aston Martin driver has earned in the first nine races of the season.
The Spanish veteran was only seventh in qualifying in Austria last time out, but the Red Bull Ring has never been a strong circuit for Alonso. There has also tended to be huge variance in performance from circuit to circuit this year, as teams are still adapting to the very different characteristics of their cars following a rules overhaul last year.
Alonso could rate a value each-way bet whatever the weather conditions are.
Qualifying winning margin over 0.25 seconds at 6/5
In Canada’s wet qualifying session, Verstappen showed why he is well on his way to a third consecutive drivers title, blitzing the field by 1.3 seconds to claim pole position.
Any factor that threatens to upset the order appears only to push the Dutchman further clear of his rivals as he seems able to rise to any challenge.
He is operating at the peak of his powers and with Ferrari concerned about how the wind will affect their car, Mercedes’ progress apparently having been stunted and Aston Martin not likely to be best suited by the layout it is easy to make a case for more Red Bull domination.
Perez has not been at his best in changeable conditions and Verstappen should master the field by at least a quarter of a second.
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