British GP: what time is the race? And is a protest planned?

Rain is forecast to hit the best grand prix of the year. Umbrellas at the ready

Yup, it’s that time of year again: the British GP takes place at Silverstone this weekend, and we’re giddy with anticipation because F1 arrives in the UK with the championship delicately poised.

We’re kidding, of course: Max Verstappen leads the championship by a huge 81-point margin having won seven of the nine races so far this season. The title is basically his already, sorry.

Still, if you can only get excited about who finishes first then you shouldn’t be watching F1, frankly. And (a long way) behind the two-time champion, the action is intense as Ferrari, Mercedes, Aston Martin and Sergio Perez trade blows each weekend for the remaining podium places.

Meanwhile, having started the year very badly McLaren’s performance in Austria suggests the team has turned a corner, something Alpine’s Pierre Gasly has told TopGear.com was “a bit surprising” for McLaren’s main rivals.

Then you’ve got Haas, Alfa Romeo, Williams and AlphaTauri all fighting for scraps, with Alex Albon and Nico Hulkenberg impressing among the backmarkers in recent races.

Two other things to look out for: keep an eye out for an 11th (and entirely fake) team on the pit lane this weekend: Brad Pitt is in town shooting his F1 movie. There’s also concern that the race will be targeted by protestors again this year: we’re praying that everyone remains safe throughout.

With so many teams closely matched, the British Grand Prix is certain to be a cracker. Especially with changeable weather on the horizon… all the info you need lies below.

What time is the British GP? And what time is qualifying?

The British Grand Prix gets underway at precisely 3pm on Sunday 9 July, while qualifying takes place at the same time on Saturday 8 July.

There are three practice sessions, as follows: FP1 and FP2 at 12.30pm and 4pm on Friday 7 July, and finally FP3 at 11.30am a few hours before quali.

What’s the weather going to be like?

Good question. At this point your guess is as good as any meteorologist’s. Right now on Saturday and Sunday intermittent rain showers are forecast with the race itself facing the biggest threat of precipitation as things stand. It’ll still be quite humid though, so we could be in for a spectacular wet-dry-wet-damp-bone-dry-then-monsoon kinda race. Excellent.

Where is the British GP taking place?

The British Grand Prix is being held at its home for the last 36 years: the Silverstone circuit in Northamptonshire. An ex-RAF base used in World War Two, it’s been transformed over the decades since into arguably the greatest F1 track in the world. High-speed in nature (seriously, go and watch the cars live through Maggotts, Becketts and Chapel), Silverstone presents the drivers with overtaking opportunities galore. Very rare that you get a dull race here.

How many laps is the British GP?

The F1 grid will complete 52 laps of the 5.891km (3.66mi) circuit. Last year’s race was won by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who took the chequered flag from pole after Ferrari conspired to ruin the chances of the faster Charles Leclerc, whose title bid was in the middle of unravelling this time last year.

The race was red flagged after Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu was horrifically flipped upside down (luckily he was uninjured) on the first corner. Ironically this may have prevented further injury, as several protestors stormed the track further around the lap. Scary stuff.

Who’s going to win the British GP?

We’d like to tell you that there are several drivers in the hunt… but we can’t. Max Verstappen has won all but two grands prix this weekend, and even those were claimed by his teammate Sergio Perez as the Dutchman finished second behind him.

Should those two somehow take each other out, the contenders are Leclerc, Sainz, Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and the home favourites that are Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and George Russell. Heck, if the weather causes enough chaos maybe we’ll get a surprise victor from the rest of the pack.

How can I watch the British GP?

Buy a ticket and go. Seriously, go. Actually you can’t do that this year because they all sold out months ago, but get your name down for 2024 as soon as you’re able.

If you’re watching from home, you’ve got a couple of options: Sky Sports and its F1 channel, or NowTV in order to stream Sky Sports. Both require money, obviously.

Channel 4 however doesn’t require money, and the British Grand Prix is the one race of the season that it’s allowed to broadcast live. Hooray! Build up starts from 1.30pm on Sunday, or you can watch the qualifying show from 2pm the day before. Result.

What’s the TopGear view on the British GP?

We love the British Grand Prix: call us biased but we reckon it’s the best race of the season, hands down. Not only does the circuit deliver exciting racing virtually every year (how often do we see cars stuck in DRS trains elsewhere?) but the passion of the fans makes for an incredibly special atmosphere. Naturally the drivers thrive here too as they push their cars to the limit of grip through the high-speed sections of the track.

The only downside is crawling through the traffic on the way home afterwards. Still worth it though.

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