#F1 Circuit Profile – 2013: Great Britain, Silverstone – Round 8

The 2013 Formula One Santander British Grand Prix will be the eighth round of the Formula One season this year, and the 45th edition of the British Grand Prix to be held at Silverstone. Including non-championship races, it will be the 76th time that a Formula One race has been held on the prestigious Silverstone Circuit.Silverstone Drawing © Silverstone Circuit

History

Unlike many of the recent Grands Prix that have been set up as an expensive campaign by governments to promote their country, Silverstone’s long history originates from a group of friends who decided that it would be a good idea to take advantage of a disused airfield nearby to host a race around a two mile long circuit in 1947.

The following year, the Royal Automobile Club took out a lease on the airfield at Silverstone, and hosted a Grand Prix while using hay bales and oil drums to mark out the circuit based around the runways and the perimiter roads, while officials worked in tents and an estimated crowd of over 100,000 watched behind rope barriers.

Giuseppe Farina - Alfa Romeo © J Wilds/Getty ImagesSilverstone also has the honour of being the host of the first ever Formula One World Championship Grand Prix in May 1950, and the 70 lap contest was won by Giuseppi Farina driving for the Alfa Romeo team, with the Italian side also seeing their drivers Luigi Fagioli and Reg Parnell take second and third place respectively in front of a crowd of 200,000 people.

Since then, the circuit has undergone several developments from the original runway-based track, with several corners of the track completely reprofiled or cut off, seeing a total of around 1.6 kilometres added in various ways since the original 1950 Grand Prix. The latest redevelopment came as a result of losing the F1 contract to Donington Park and subsequently gaining the MotoGP contract, before Formula One came back to race on the Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire border once again.

As a result of the circuit not being funded by the government, several other initiatives such as the Silverstone Business Park and Silverstone University Technical College have been created, in addition to the high profile Silverstone Wing building which contains the pit garages for the majority of motorsport events that take place there.

Circuit Characteristics

Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit is 3.660 miles long and features 18 corners. Ask the drivers and they will tell you the high-speed corners make it really exciting and challenging to drive, particularly Copse (8), Becketts (12) and Stowe (15). The corner combinations result in compression forces of up to 5g.

Silverstone Circuit Characteristics © FIASilverstone Circuit Legend © FIA

The maximum speed recorded on the circuit was 310kph by Vitaly Petrov while driving for Renault in 2011. Fernando Alonso holds the record for the fastest race lap at 1m30.878 and Sebastian Vettel holds the record for the fastest lap at Silverstone (current circuit) in a time of 1m29.615 which was set in 2010.

The race will be run over 52 laps giving a total race distance of 306.332km (190.346m). During a lap a driver makes 48 gear changes and spend 67% of the lap on full throttle. This year will see two DRS zones, one on the International Pit Straight and one of the Hanger Straight, just before Stowe corner.

Silverstone Braking Characteristics with Brembo

Abbey Braking © BremboThis is perhaps the least demanding track for the braking system with just 8% of each lap spent on the brakes. Other than Abbey (Turn 1), considered the most demanding corner, it is a very “driven” circuit where the long, fast turns generally translate into ‘not-too-demanding’ braking sections.

In the event of adverse weather conditions, given the low energy forces in play, there can be problems connected to excessive cooling and the “glazing” of the friction material. The carbon the discs and pads are made from do not guarantee correct friction generation if the operating temperatures are too low, thereby compromising braking performance.

A Lap With Mark Webber

Pirelli and the Silverstone Circuit

Pirelli PZero OrangePirelli will bring the P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White medium tyres to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix: effectively a second home race for the Italian squad, whose UK logistics hub at Didcot is less than an hour away from the Northamptonshire circuit.

There will also be two sets per car of the same prototype hard tyres seen in Spain, available for use in Friday’s two free practice sessions only.

Being one of the fastest circuit layouts on the F1 calendar this means that plenty of energy is put through the tyres, with a consequent effect on wear and degradation. In the past, teams have used strategy to their advantage on this track, resulting in some close finishes even with different tactics being employed.

Pirelli P Zero Medium (White) © PirelliMany parts of the asphalt at Silverstone are new, with the new asphalt less bumpy and abrasive than the older sections. Abrasive asphalt increases grip, but also adds to levels of wear and degradation.

Last year a variety of strategies were seen following a wet qualifying session, which meant that the drivers could start on whichever slick compound they chose. Red Bull’s Mark Webber won the race from second on the grid, having started on the soft tyre before completing two stints on the hard tyre. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was on pole but finished second after doing the opposite: two initial stints on the hard tyre, then one on the soft tyre.

High-speed stability is particularly important at Silverstone, with braking energy extremely low. Downforce levels are medium: a compromise between ensuring enough aerodynamic grip to negotiate the fast corners as quickly as possible and eliminating drag on the straights.

Lateral accelerations on the tyres are among the highest of the season, peaking at 5g. This means that the surface temperature of the tyre can exceed 110 degrees centigrade, towards the very top of its working range.

A Lap With Pirelli

Weather Forecast

untitledThe 7 day forecast for Silverstone suggests the organisers will be blessed with little or no rain Friday-Sunday. The ambient air temperature is predicted to reach a high of 25 degrees celsius on Sunday during the race.

With high levels of humidity expected, we may well see track temperatures reaching heights unusual for the Northamptonshire circuit. This of course will mean the tyres reach higher temperatures and the thermal degradation will be on the upper end of the tyre operating windows.

Not good news for Mercedes and Lewis Hamitlon, and possibly not great for Red Bull either. 4 stops will almost definately be the strategic route for teams with higher tyre wear and we could even see a driver 5 stop.

Force India could be smiling again, with possibly their best result ever, if they can eraditcate the errors seen so far this year.

Memorable Moments

Nigel Mansell British GP 1987 © Williams F11987 – Nigel Mansell qualified behind his  illustrious team mate Brazilian and two-time World Champion Nelson Piquet. Both were beaten at the start of the race by a fast starting Alain Prost but the McLaren was no match for the Williams’ of Piquet and Mansell who passed him before the first lap was done.

A close race ensued between the two Williams drivers however, by lap 12 Mansell was struggling with severe vibrations due to a missing wheel weight and by lap 36 his team decided to pit him for a fresh set of wheels. With new rubber Mansel set off charging after his team mate (now 29 seconds in the lead). With three laps to go the two were nose to tail and with 2 laps to go Mansel sold Piquet a dummy on the hanger straight and then proceeded to drive down the inside of Stowe corner and into the lead. This charge saw Mansell break the lap record 11 times!

British Fans were delighted with his win and as he ground to a halt on the circuit due to running out of fuel he was mobbed by them!

1994 – Damon Hill won the British Grand Prix from a hard charging Michael Schumacher. Hill stated the race on pole but was passed by Schumacher. The latter however was given a 5 second stop-go penalty for passing Hill during the formation lap and having ignored the penalty was shown the black flag… which he also ignored. After 10 laps his team had convinced the officials there was a misunderstanding about the 5 second stop-go and they called Schumacher in to serve his penalty. Hill went on to win the race (a feat his father Graham Hill did not manage) ahead of Schumacher who was later disqualified and given a two race ban for ignoring the penalty and black flag.

1999 – David Coulthard won the British Grand Prix after a race long battle with Eddie Irvine. The story of the day however was Michael Schumacher breaking his leg after going off at Stowe corner due to brake failure. Having joined Ferrari in 1996 this was the first year Schumacher had a competitive car that enabled him to challenge for the championship however his broken leg forced him out of 6 races which ended his challenge.

2008 – The British summer treated the drivers to persistent rain in the morning and although it let off by the time the race started there was still a lot of water on the track. The race was started on intermediate tyres and Lewis Hamilton, starting form 4th, had a great start to propel him into the lead momentarily. Heiki Kovalainen however had the better line and retook the lead after brushing tyres with Hamilton. On lap 5 Hamilton made no mistake as he passed his team mate into Stowe corner and pulled out a 6 second lead by lap 10.

Battling challenging conditions throughout, Hamilton crossed the finish line on lap 60 to win the Grand Prix by 68 seconds from Nick Heidfeld in second. The margin of victory was the largest in a Formula One Grand Prix since 1995.

Mark Webber British GP 2010 © Adrian Hoskins2010 – “Not bad for a number two driver”. Who can forget Mark Webber’s radio message after the 2010 Santander British Grand Prix. Red Bull brought new aerodynamic package, which included two new front wings, to Silverstone for Sebastian Vettel and Webber to race with. During FP3 Vettel’s wing came off and was destroyed. Having no spare front wing, Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner decided to take Webber’s wing and put it on Vettel’s car for qualifying and the race.

Having qualified a very close 1-2 Webber overtook his team mate into the first corner and never looked back. The infuriated Aussie went on to win the race in dominant fashion.

Notable Drivers

Britain is fortunate enough to have four drivers on the grid for the British Grand Prix this year, a number not seen since the 2008 Spanish Grand Prix where current drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button – driving for McLaren Mercedes and Honda at the time – were joined by Red Bull Racing’s David Coulthard in his final year and Antony Davidson driving for Super Aguri in their final race.

British GP Podium 2007 © SilverstoneAt the moment, the most successful of the four Brits on the grid is Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who has taken 21 career victories and one World Championship. Supported by the McLaren Young Driver Programme, he was a surprising choice for a top race seat for the 2007 season, but he proved the doubters wrong by winning four races but narrowly missing out on winning the championship in his debut season to Kimi Raikkonen, and then going on to ultimately be victorious in 2008. Since then, he has always been close to the front of races, winning several races in each season he has been entered in (except this season).

Jenson Button is next on this list, having fifteen career victories and one world championship to his name. He has much more experience than his former McLaren team mate, but was ultimately placed in uncompetitive cars or unfortunate before Ross Brawn entered his own team using the remnants of the Honda team in 2009, going on to become the only team to have a 100% success rate in World Championships due to the sheer pace of the car at the start of the season, leading Button to become World Champion. Following on from that he moved to McLaren, while similar success has not followed.

Paul Di Resta made his Formula 1 debut in 2011 after winning the DTM Championship in 2010. Having tested for McLaren-Mercedes, Martin Whitmarsh played a great part in getting him into Formula 1 with Force India, also a Mercedes engine partner.  He became Force India’s test driver in 2010 and was promoted to a driving seat in 2011 alongside Adrian Sutil.

In 2011 he was beaten by Sutil in the drivers standings and in 2012 his new team mate Nico Hulkenberg beat him again. Despite this he was very confident of his changes to move the McLaren after Hamilton made his move to Mercedes however it was not to be and he is still with Force India for the 2013 season.

Max Chilton © MarussiaThe British rookie this year is Max Chilton. Chilton made his way into Formula 1 with Marussia F1 Team after spending three years competing in the GP2 Series. In the three seasons he spent in GP2 his most successful was last year when he won two races and finished fourth in the championship.

Being teamed up with Jules Bianchi this year is hard for the youngster from Surrey. Bianchi has much more experience, being part of the Ferrari Driver Academy, and have shone in the first couple of races of the season. The good news for British fans are that he is learning and getting faster so may just be able to get up to the sharp end of the gird… eventually.

Support Races

This year’s Silverstone Grand Prix will see GP2, GP3 and the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup as support races to the Formula 1 Grand Prix.

GP2 will be coming to Silverstone for Round 5 of their series. Stefano Coletti (Rapax) currently leads the series with 120 points. Lying second is Felipe Nasr on 96 points and Sam Bird (Russian Time) is third with 58 points, almost 40 points back. British fans will be cheering their man Bird on but few doubt that Coletti will walk away with the spoils as he has a habit of finishing either on the podium or very close to it.

Silverstone will be Round 3 for the GP3 series. Round 2 was held at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Spain where  Conor Daly (ART Grand Prix) and Rober Visoiu (MW Arden) won the first and second races respectively. Tio Ellinas (Marussia Manor Racing) currently leads the standings with 55 points and will look to extend his lead over Conor Daly currently on 51 points.

Sean Edwards © Porsche MotorsportHaving won the previous two rounds of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup and a third position at last year’s Silverstone event, Sean Edwards (tolimit Motorsport) will be aiming to do a hat trick. He currently leads the championship and stands on 40 points. Kuba Giermaziak (VERVA Racing Team) and Michael Ammermuller (Lechner Racing) are lying second and third, both on 32 points. Ammermuller has finished on the podium in the last two rounds so will be someone to watch as well.

Silverstone Results:

Year Driver Constructor
2012 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault
2011 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
2010 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault
2009 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault
2008 Lewis Hamilton McLaren – Mercedes
2007 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
2006 Fernando Alonso Renault
2005 Jaun Pablo Montoya McLaren – Mercedes
2004 Michael Schumacher Ferrari
2003 Rubens Barrichello Ferrari

5 responses to “#F1 Circuit Profile – 2013: Great Britain, Silverstone – Round 8

  1. Prototype tires, it’s hard for me to imagine Pirelli getting unanimous agreement to change the tires, it didn’t happen a few weeks ago…

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  4. The Formula 1 crowd loves the Silverstone circuit! Although the track was rebuilt several times, it must be considered one of the most classic and competitive in Formula 1. Silverstone and Spa, is synonymous with Formula 1!

    • I wholeheartedly agree, it definitely deserves its place on the calendar. It has a special place in the thoughts of the fans, especially in comparison to many newer circuits that have sprung up.

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