Round 5 of the GP2 Series at Silverstone this weekend marks the halfway point of the season, with five drivers still fighting for the title in a finely balanced battle.
Romain Grosjean arrives at the British circuit still in the championship lead, just. His win in the feature race at Valencia, together with the fastest lap, gave him a decent advantage. But his would all be wiped out on the first lap of the sprint race.
Grosjean made contact with title rival Sam Bird early in the lap, and then spun out of the race further around the street circuit. As a result his points lead stands at just one point. Furthermore, his contact with Bird landed him a ten-place grid penalty for Silverstone.
Giedo van der Garde is the man in second place, but it could have been so much better for the Dutch Addax driver in Valencia. He was set to win the feature race until a drive-through penalty for ignoring yellow flags dropped him to fourth. He was able to make his way back to second, but Grosjean had scored more points than him. A third place in the sprint race limited the damage to ensure he is right on the Frenchman's tail arriving at Silverstone.
A fourth and a third place in Valencia moved Davide Valsecchi into third in the standings, four points behind Grosjean. The AirAsia driver won in Monaco and will hope to continue an impressively consistent run of points scoring. The Italian has finished in the top five in each of the last six races, banishing memories of a tough opening weekend.
iSport driver Bird is still chasing his first win of the season, and where better to top the podium than at home? He didn't quite have the outright pace at Valencia and being punted off by Grosjean in the sprint race didn't help – leaving him seven points adrift of the lead. With the passionate British fans rooting for him at Silverstone, expect him to be at the front throughout the weekend.
Charles Picvaulted to the top of the standings after qualifying in Valencia, with two bonus points for claiming pole position. He looked good for a third win of the season but his car broke down on the way to the grid. A double retirement followed, and he is now ten points off Grosjean. All it needs though is a win for him and a non-score for Grosjean to bring him right back into play.
Last year's wins at Silverstone were claimed by Pastor Maldonado and Sergio Perez, who finished the year as champion and runner-up, and on Sunday they will line up on the Formula 1 grid. Will this weekend's GP2 round prove to be as significant in the title race?
Away from the title battle, Brits Max Chilton and Jolyon Palmer will be chasing some points at home, while their respective teams Carlin and Arden are joined by Super Nova and iSport in racing at their home track.
Pirelli will provide their medium compound tyre. Pirelli's Racing Manager Mario Isola said: “At Silverstone we will take up the challenge of bringing our GP2 medium compounds to spice-up the action and meet the expectations of the series' organisers.
“Specifically, the tyre choice for GP2 is a daring decision. Tyre management will be a key factor because the drivers will have to take extremely good care of their tyres if they want to be competitive and give a hard time to their rivals.
“Generally speaking, we foresee a different result in terms of tyre wear in comparison to that experienced on other circuits. Silverstone has a significant combination of lateral and longitudinal loads. This is likely to result in the tyres wearing out in an even way instead of mostly in the inner part of the cover, as in Valencia, because of the camber effect.”
Free practice takes place at 10:55 on Friday morning, ahead of qualifying at 14:55. The 29 lap feature race starts at 14:40 on Saturday afternoon, with the 21 sprint race at 9:30 on Sunday morning.