What are the chances of a British winner at Silverstone?

But in recent weeks there have been genuine green shoots for Mercedes. The switch in concept away from the ‘zero-pod’ design with which it persevered for too long didn’t initially garner the expected uplift in form, but since Monaco, where the team introduced a technical upgrade, it has shown a fresh turn of pace.

Russell scored a surprise pole position in Canada, but of more significance was probably the showing in Spain, where the two Mercedes showed a clean pair of heels to Ferrari. Yes, Verstappen and Norris were just out of range, but Hamilton scored his first podium of the season.

This will, of course, be Hamilton’s last British GP for Mercedes before he makes that sensational switch to Ferrari. At 39 and for the first time, there have been murmurs of a fade in the seven-time champion’s superpowers.

By Spain, Hamilton lagged 8-2 in the internal qualifying battle with team-mate Russell and he was highly critical of his own performance in Canada. But critics should be wary of writing off one of F1’s greatest drivers just yet. Salacious conspiracy emails of internal sabotage against Hamilton seem far-fetched.

Instead, a script in which Hamilton breaks his win drought in front of his beloved home crowd would be pure Hollywood. A long shot, perhaps – but it’s far less fanciful now than it was six weeks ago.

George Russell

george russell

He was crestfallen by the trio of errors at the Canadian GP that knocked him out of contention for the win.

But in Spain, Russell’s dynamite start that shot him past Hamilton and then around the outside of the squabbling Norris and Verstappen into the lead was a direct reminder of the driver that created such a buzz of excitement the first time he raced a Mercedes in Bahrain in 2020, as a sub for a Covid-struck Hamilton.

It must be galling (to put it mildly) that since he stepped up as Hamilton’s full-time team-mate in 2022, his promotion to what was F1’s finest and most successful team coincided with Mercedes’ humiliating fall from grace. He has landed just one F1 win so far (Brazil in 2022), but Russell has largely acquitted himself well against one of the all-time greats.

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