British Grand Prix: Can the Silverstone crowd restore Hamilton to greatness?

Lewis Hamilton wins the British Grand Prix in 2017
Lewis Hamilton won the 2017 British Grand Prix - and celebrated with some crowdsurfing

Can the roar of a crowd carry a competitor over the finish line to victory?

It's an interesting question, one which only a handful of the greatest sportsmen and women can truly answer.

Lewis Hamilton has certainly benefited from the wave of emotion the British Grand Prix fans have provided over the years.

"There is no other driver on the grid that gets what I get here [Silverstone] at any other grand prix and that is something really special," he said after a record-equalling fifth pole position at the circuit last year.

'Something really special' is Hamilton's forte on home soil. None more so than his wet-weather masterclass in 2008.

British Grand Prix fans 1998
Silverstone is home to the most dedicated of autograph hunters

Ten years ago during the first week of July, the weather was… typically British. Rain, poor visibility, waterproof coats, wellies. Summertime.

A then 23-year-old Hamilton only qualified in fourth for the race; his McLaren darted over the gravel on the first of two final qualifying runs, to the despair of the team garage.

In what should now be renamed the 'aquaplaning grand prix', race day saw one car after another spin out of control. The Force India of Adrian Sutil glided across the track like a paper aeroplane.

But where others falter, the greats succeed. Hamilton's natural ability to manage the difficult conditions was showcased in all its glory as he weaved his way through the soggy mayhem.

Lewis Hamilton wins the British Grand Prix in 2008
2008 was great: Hamilton celebrated a first British Grand Prix win and championship title

There was a perfect tyre strategy, a glorious overtake on team-mate Heikki Kovalainen at Stowe and a 60-second advantage over the rest of the field come the chequered flag, giving the grandstands arguably the best Silverstone race of all time.

One win has now become five for the Mercedes man, bringing him level with Alain Prost and fellow countryman Jim Clark on the roll of honour.

Seal a fifth Silverstone victory in a row this weekend and win number six overall will cement the boy from Stevenage as the all-time great of the British Grand Prix.

Mercedes should dominate this weekend, but they come into the race reeling from a nightmare in Austria, which saw no points scored as both cars retired. Strategy errors, worn-out tyres and both cars suffering failures led Hamilton to label Spielberg "the worst race I can remember for a very, very long time".

As Formula 1's first triple-header comes to a close, can the roar of Silverstone restore Hamilton's pursuit of racing greatness?

Flashback quiz

For every winner, there are runners-up who clap in appreciation alongside them on the podium.

Lewis Hamilton could become king of Silverstone on Sunday if he wins a record sixth British Grand Prix.

Eight drivers have joined in the celebrations either side of the four-time world champion, but do you remember who they were?

There are three minutes on the clock to name the second and third-placed drivers in Hamilton's five victories from 2008 to 2017.

How many drivers can you name?

Score: 0 / 8
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Drivers

Previously in F1... round nine... Austria

Valtteri Bottas
Flying Finn: Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas took his first pole position of the season, piping team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 0.019 seconds. Sebastian Vettel dropped from third to sixth after being found guilty of blocking Renault's Carlos Sainz
Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel
Verstappen's orange army: Red Bull had never won a grand prix at the Red Bull Ring and that didn't look like changing... until Mercedes had an Austrian meltdown by failing to pit Hamilton after an early safety car, that is. Hamilton made his feelings clear on the team radio that the win was 'thrown away', along with the championship lead. Vettel now has a one-point advantage heading to Silverstone

The track

A graphic to show the track layout at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix

Back pocket facts

  • In 1307 it was decreed that the head of any dead whale found on the British coast becomes the property of the king, while the tail belongs to the queen.
  • The Loganair Westray to Papa Westray route is the shortest scheduled passenger flight in the world. As two of Orkney's Northern Isles, flight time is around one-and-a-half minutes, with the fastest flight recorded 53 seconds.
  • The annual Cheese Rolling event at Cooper's Hill in Gloucester makes the list of the world's seven most bizarre feats of strength. Flo Early, from Stroud, has triumphed in the women's race three times and this year won the wheel of cheese even though she had a suspected dislocated shoulder.
  • The Knowledge of London was introduced as a requirement for taxi drivers in 1865. Mastering the Knowledge typically takes students three to four years, with 25,000 streets to remember.

Drivers' social

Lewis Hamilton tweet
Max Verstappen
Haas
Valtteri Bottas

How to follow on BBC Sport

BBC Sport has live coverage of all the season's races on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, plus live online commentary on the BBC Sport website and mobile app - including audience interaction, expert analysis, debate, voting, features, interviews and video content.

All times BST and are subject to change at short notice.

British Grand Prix coverage details
DateSessionTimeRadio coverageOnline text commentary
Thursday, 05 JulyBritish Grand Prix preview21:30-22:00BBC Radio 5 live
Friday, 06 JulyFirst practice09:55-11:35BBC Radio 5 live sports extra From 09:30
Second practice13:55-15:35BBC Sport onlineFrom 13:30
Saturday, 07 JulyFinal practice10:55-12:05BBC Sport onlineFrom 10:30
Qualifying13:55-15:05BBC Radio 5 live sports extra
Sunday, 08 JulyRace14:00-16:00BBC Radio 5 liveFrom 12:30
Slicks-0-six phone-in18:00-19:00BBC Radio 5 live
Monday, 09 JulyReview04:30-05:00BBC Radio 5 live

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