#F1 Circuit Profile – 2014: Great Britain, Silverstone – Round 9

The 2014 Formula One Santander British Grand Prix will be the ninth round of the Formula One season this year, and the 46th edition of the British Grand Prix to be held at Silverstone. Including non-championship races, it will be the 77th time that a Formula One race has been held on the prestigious Silverstone Circuit.

This race sees the continuation of the intriguing title clash between second placed Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and his team mate, current championship leader and 2013 victor Nico Rosberg, with the British driver seeking to capitalise on whatever form of home advantage that may be offered in order to dramatically decrease the points deficit to his rival.

Silverstone International 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.

2014 British Grand Prix - Circuit Characteristics

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.

A Lap With Lewis Hamilton

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZKJRvwmS9U]

Pirelli and the Silverstone Circuit

Pirelli P Zero Medium WHITEFormula One heads to Silverstone, the home of British motorsport (with no fewer than eight teams based in the UK) and also a second home race for Pirelli, with the company’s logistics hub and ‘centre of excellence’ based in Didcot, less than an hour away from Silverstone. The track is well known for being one of the fastest of the year, putting a high-energy load through the tyres.

Making the challenge even harder is the fact that the weather is usually variable, with a high chance of rain at some point during the weekend and a notoriously wide range of temperatures and wind speeds.

This can sometimes make it difficult to rationalise the data obtained in free practice with the actual race conditions. Pirelli has nominated the two hardest tyres in the range, P Zero orange hard and P Zero White medium, to face up to the demands of Silverstone.

Paul Hembery © PirelliPaul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director:Silverstone is one of the truly great venues of the year, which is steeped in history and always thrilling for the drivers and fans because of the high speeds involved. British fans are among the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic of the year: it’s absolutely fantastic to see them out in full force, whatever the weather.

And the weather is always a talking point in Silverstone of course; in the past we’ve seen everything from bright sunshine to torrential rain. As a result, the ability to make quick strategy decisions based on real-time conditions is always very important, as you can’t necessarily rely on previous data. We’ve brought our two hardest tyres, which should be well suited to the conditions, and after the race we look forward to the final dedicated in- season tyre test of the year, from Tuesday to Wednesday.

Ferrari and Marussia will be driving for us on the first day, with Red Bull and Lotus on the second day, as we continue our development test campaign.

Jean Alesi © PirelliJean Alesi, Pirelli consultant:Silverstone is one of the real universities of Formula One, but the Silverstone of a few years ago was quite a different thing to Silverstone as it is now. Back then there were only about six corners in total, including some like Stowe that used to be taken at crazy speeds.

Now it’s changed a lot: I’ve actually only driven the current configuration of circuit in GT cars. However, there is still scope for absolute driving on the limit in some places. The Becketts series of corners is still flat-out, as it always used to be, for example. You need a perfectly balanced car and tyres to enable you to make up those vital tenths of a second that are key to a good lap time, to maintain a good pace over what is a very demanding race.

It’s more mentally rather than physically tiring, as the circuit flows quite nicely.

The circuit from a tyre point of view:

Teams tend to run medium to high levels of downforce to obtain the best possible cornering speeds through the first half of the lap, with its sequence of fast corners. These settings are not too much of a handicap on the straights, as they tend to be quite short – with short braking areas over the course of the lap as a whole. This can make it quite challenging to overtake.

Silverstone is a high-energy circuit, as the fast and flowing nature of the circuit means that the tyres are constantly subjected to different forces: sometimes several different forces at the same time. Lateral accelerations peak at 5g while the surface temperature of the tyres can exceed 110 degrees centigrade.

The medium tyre is a low working range compound, capable of achieving optimal performance even at low temperatures. The hard tyre is a high working range compound, suitable for higher temperatures and more strenuous track conditions. Temperatures in Silverstone are among the most varied of the year: there can sometimes be a shift of more than 15 degrees of track temperature between sessions, making strategy hard to predict.

The Silverstone track is quite intensively used during the season, especially with the support races during the grand prix weekend, so track evolution is not as much as a factor as it is at some other circuits.

Silverstone track with Pirelli

Brembo and the Silverstone Circuit

2014 Silverstone - Corner 3

Turn 03 – considered the most demanding for the braking system.

This is perhaps the least demanding track for the braking system with just 8% of each lap spent on the brakes. In fact, 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. In fact, 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.

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 Mansell 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 TJ13 hero 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.

Support Races

Like the majority of European rounds, this weekend will also feature races from the GP2, GP3 and Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup series. The GP2 standings are currently led by British driver Jolyon Palmer, who will be looking to add to his two race victories this season when he visits his home track. Felipe Nasr and Johnny Cecotto Jr. are in second and third places respectively after taking one race victory each at the last race weekend in Austria.

GP3 has seen all four races won by British drivers, which is good news if you are from the country that the races will be staged in this weekend. Championship leader Alex Lynn is thirteen points ahead of Jimmy Eriksson, the latter having three podiums in comparison to the top guy’s two victories. The other winners – Emil Bernstorff and Dean Stoneman – are fourth and seventh in the standings respectively.

Finally, the Porsche Supercup also continues with Polish driver Kuba Giermaziak at the top after three races and two race victories. Earl Bamber, who won the first race of the season, is second, eleven points behind the leader, while Philipp Eng, Ben Barker, and Christian Engelhart are all one point further back, with Eng being the furthest forward of the trio due to two second placed finishes in the first two races this year.

Silverstone Results:

Year Driver Constructor
2013 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
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
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12 responses to “#F1 Circuit Profile – 2014: Great Britain, Silverstone – Round 9

  1. I think Schumacher broke his leg after his ego couldn’t deal with Eddie overtaking him, and out braked himself.

    • Idiotic comment.

      Maybe Senna was upset too in chasing Schumacher that he over drive the car into the wall.

    • I always thought it was interesting that Eddie said Schumi wasn’t the best at setting up the car… but would just out-drive him on track. Considering Rubens beat him a handful of times each year too, this rings very true to where his skill-set lies..

  2. The 1990 layout was terrific, then one used until 2009 was great as well. The one used now is good considering the current state of F1 circuits, but it’s only shadow of true Silverstone.

    Hopefully there won’t be a repeat of Pirelli’s horrendous disaster of last year.

    I should be more excited, but the lastest off track news has been so dreadful that I barely feel any anticipation.

    • I wonder who did the various Silverstone redesigns? The pre-chicanes layouts look great… but there have also been some great corners developed in the last 25 years.. Becketts complex, Copse, Stowe, Bridge etc. to replace those fast 90 degree drifters that were lost. Now we have the new Abbey to replace Bridge.

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