The British Grand Prix plunged Formula One into a fresh controversy over the subject which has caused the most rows this year: tyres.
In the days before Silverstone, Mercedes avoided a severe punishment at the hands of the FIA International Tribunal over conducting a secret tyre test for Pirelli. Then in the grand prix itself a series of dramatic punctures almost forced the stoppage of the race.
The first driver to be affected by them during the race was Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. The hopes of thousands of home fans – and the money they staked on him – vanished when his left-rear tyre exploded on lap eight.
That and a gearbox failure for Sebastian Vettel opened the way for Hamilton’s team mate Nico Rosberg to win. It set tongues wagging about what Mercedes, who hadn’t won a race this year before their illegal test, had learned from the 1,000 kilometres of running they performed at the Circuit de Catalunya.
The question now is whether Mercedes can repeat their success on home ground this weekend – and whether F1 can avoid a repeat of what happened at Silverstone.
Winners and losers from the tyre change
On Tuesday Pirelli confirmed they will make several changes to the tyres for this weekend’s race. Some of these – such as using Kevlar instead of steel belts within the tyre – were proposed early in the year but blocked by teams who felt it would hand an advantage to rivals who are harder on their tyres. Those who stand to benefit most are Mercedes and Red Bull, so start with them when picking your bets for this weekend’s race.
Despite his two wins in the last three races, Rosberg has longer odds than three other drivers to win again this weekend. As he’s also had three pole positions this year, it’s worth taking a punt on him to win again this weekend with odds of 6.0.
Both Mercedes drivers are priced at less than 3.0 to start from pole position, which isn’t a great return. Mark Webber could make an interesting outside bet at 12.0. Although he hasn’t out-qualified his team mate all year he came close to doing so last weekend and has fared well against Vettel at the Nurburgring.
Ferrari are likely to find the revised tyres less to their liking and the same goes for Lotus. What’s more Ferrari had a conspicuously uncompetitive weekend at Silverstone – Fernando Alonso himself admitted he was lucky to get on the podium – so I’d steer clear of putting any money on the Scuderia at the moment. The short gap between the British and German races may not be enough time for them to get on top of whatever trouble they’ve fallen into.
It’s always worth thinking about the long-term. Pirelli have also said further changes will be made to their tyres for the Hungarian race at the end of the month. The likelihood is we’ll see tyres that are more durable and less prone to degrading.
This is more reason to believe we’re about to see the pendulum swing away from Ferrari and Lotus and towards Mercedes and Red Bull. Mercedes have just moved up to second in the constructors’ championship and it’s worth checking out the odds in both title races.
Mercedes offer odds of 5.5 to lift the teams’ trophy. In the drivers’ championship Hamilton is priced at 12.0 to win and is currently 43 points behind Vettel with 275 available. Rosberg is only seven points further back but his odds are twice as nice at 25.0.
Keith Collantine is the editor of Formula One blog F1 Fanatic