Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Catman
Formula One returns home to Great Britain this weekend. The 120,000 fans travelling to the circuit on Sunday will be hoping to see a more thrilling contest than that of recent races. Lewis Hamilton leads the championship by ten points from Nico Rosberg, with Sebastian Vettel only 49 points adrift in third position.
There is a strong argument to put forward the British Grand Prix as the home of Formula One. Britain held the very first race of the Formula One World Championship back in 1950 and has put on an event every single year since then, covering three different venues. The British car racing industry is centered around “Motorsports valley” which stretches from the West Midlands through Oxfordshire. The area houses seven out of the ten F1 teams along with 4,500 other businesses servicing all forms of motorsport, employing over 40,000 people. Motorsport contributes a massive amount to the British economy with an annual turnover of £9 billion. A massive 25% of this turnover is reinvested in research and development, which is a larger percentage than even the UK pharmaceutical industry (15%).
Last year’s race saw a dramatic first lap crash for Kimi Raikkonen, who ran wide on the Wellington straight. He decided not to lift off and caught a bump that pitched him straight into the barriers, then spearing back across the circuit infront of Felipe Massa’s Williams. The race was delayed for an hour while extensive repairs were made to the barriers. At the restart Nico Rosberg was leading comfortably until he retired with gearbox trouble, handing the victory to Lewis Hamilton for his second win on home turf. Jenson Button has never finished on the podium in Britain but came agonisingly close behind Daniel Ricciardo for fourth.
The oval circuit at Brooklands was built in 1907 and was the first purpose-built motor racing circuit in the world, two years before the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built. It hosted a Grand Prix event in 1927, long before the inception of the World Championship. The circuit was made from concrete and had a banking of 30 degrees.
Unfortunately the second world war took its toll on the circuit. The site was heavily involved in aircraft production (particularly the Wellington, Warwick and Hurricane fighter planes) and was targeted by enemy bombers. The aerodrome and the famous banking were heavily damaged and racing was not resumed.
A circuit at Silverstone was constructed in 1947 and staged it’s first official race, the Royal Automobile Club International Grand Prix in 1948, which was won by Luigi Villoresi in a Maserati. The track used the perimeter roads and runways of the disused airfield and a course was marked out using hay bales and oil drums, mainly to protect the piggery in the middle of the circuit. Amazingly the race attracted a huge crowd – an estimated 100,000 people saw the action from behind rope barriers.
The Formula One World Championship was established in 1950 and the first race was at Silverstone followed by six other tracks across Europe. The 70 lap race was dominated by Alfa Romeo, who locked out the podium positions with Guiseppie Farina, Luigi Fagiolo and Reg Parnell. The race was attended by King George VI, the only time a reigning British monarch has ever attended a British motor race.
Between 1955 and 1962 the British Grand Prix alternated between Silverstone and the circuit at Aintree, based around the Grand National horse racing course near Liverpool. Stirling Moss took victory in the 1957 race in a Vanwall, the first victory in the F1 World Championship for a British built car. Jim Clark won the final Grand Prix at Aintree in 1962, the first of five on home soil for the British legend.
Silverstone then started to alternate hosting the Grand Prix with Brands Hatch, a hilly circuit in Kent with many challenging fast corners and elevation changes. One of the most memorable races at Brands Hatch came in 1976, the epic season that saw James Hunt and Niki Lauda battle for supremacy. Hunt won the race only to be disqualified following a protest from Lauda’s Ferrari team, as during a first lap incident that had caused a red-flag Hunt had taken a short-cut to return to the pits rather than complete the whole lap. The stewards handed victory to Lauda who had finished in second place on the road.
Brands Hatch’s final F1 race was in 1986 as the governing body FISA had decided that races should no longer alternate between venues (likely to attract greater exclusive race hosting fees) and gave the long term contract to Silverstone. Brands Hatch was deemed too narrow for the increasing speeds of the new turbo cars and the circuit facilities were not able to compete with Silverstone.
From 1987 until the present day, Silverstone has hosted the British Grand Prix. Many countries support their circuits with government funding, but the British race has had to survive without this assistance. This has led to many years of troubled negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone to hold on to it’s coveted position, but recent investment and future planned developments including the Silverstone Business Park and Silverstone University Technical College have helped to secure it’s financial future.
The layout of the Silverstone circuit had remained relatively untouched since the very early days, until 1991 saw heavy modification of the track to take on a more modern appearance. Many of the corners were reprofiled but the track maintained the high-speed nature that endeared it to the drivers. The infield “arena” section and relocation of the pits from Woodcote to Club was added in 2010. The modifications were initially created to improve the safety of Moto GP racing – a contract that Silverstone had secured to replace the F1 event that it had lost to Donington Park. Soon after the modifications were made the organisers at Donington failed to raise the necessary funds to hold the race, which allowed Silverstone to regain the F1 contract.
The Silverstone circuit represents a fantastic mixture of high speed corners mixed with a slower, more technical middle section. The combination of Stowe, Becketts and Copse are a spectacular challenge, with speeds reaching up to 190mph and pulling nearly 5g through the flowing corners.
There are two DRS zones, the first on the International Pit Straight and the second on Hangar Straight, both of which set up two fantastic overtaking opportunities. Drivers can choose to cover the inside line to defend, but the outside can be just as fruitful and makes for some exciting racing. The tight final chicane and the arena complex can also provide some good close quarters action. Silverstone saw one of the most exciting moments of the 2014 season when Sebastian Vettel battled wheel to wheel with Fernando Alonso, sometimes with only centimeters separating the cars at high speed.
The race will be held over 52 laps of the 3.66 mile circuit, covering a total distance of just over 190 miles. The lap record is the pole position time set in 2014 as a 1:29.607 by Nico Rosberg, beating Fernando Alonso’s previous record time from 2010 at 1:30.874 during the v8 era.
BRAKING WITH BREMBO
This is perhaps the least demanding track for the braking system with just 10% 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.
TYRES WITH PIRELLI – MEDIUM AND HARD COMPOUNDS
The P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White medium tyres have been selected for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone: a fast and flowing circuit that takes a lot out of the tyres, especially during the many high-speed corners. This results in plenty of wear and degradation, especially if ambient temperatures are high – which is expected to be the case this year. As well as being one of the quickest and most historic venues on the Formula One calendar, Silverstone is also something of a home race for Pirelli: the Italian firm’s Formula One logistics hub and centre of engineering excellence is located in Didcot, less than an hour away by car.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “Silverstone is always a fantastic occasion, with an extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic fan base of British spectators. It’s one of the few circuits where the drivers say that they can actually hear the crowd as they are driving along. As was the case last year, we’re bringing our two hardest tyres in the range, because Silverstone gives us the highest lateral energy loads of the season. These place heavy demands on both the tyre compound and structure. So we should be seeing between one and two pit stops at Silverstone, especially if the weather is warm, which is expected to be the case. Having said that, warm weather has been the forecast for a number of years previously – and we’ve still often ended up with a dose of more traditional British weather instead! So the teams will have to be prepared for everything and think about how to get the maximum out of their tyres during the weekend as a whole, rather than just session-by-session. Silverstone is one of those circuits that really rewards absolute bravery and commitment, so we should be in for a great race.”
The biggest challenges for the tyres: Silverstone is well known for its succession of fast and sweeping corners, which load the tyres with sustained forces that peak at 5g. The teams use high levels of downforce, meaning that there are often big vertical as well as lateral forces acting on the tyres at the same time. The straights and braking areas are reasonably short, allowing the teams to run a lot of aero without too much time loss.
Silverstone’s asphalt offers a high level of grip, further increasing the workload on the tyre. Tread temperatures can peak in excess of 110 degrees centigrade, visible on the thermal imaging cameras that have formed a popular element of Formula One broadcasting since being introduced in 2013. Last year Silverstone provided a showcase for Pirelli’s future technology when the Italian firm trialled 18-inch tyres fitted to a contemporary Formula One car for the first time, which completed some demonstration laps during the official post-race test on a Lotus driven by Charles Pic.
Last year’s strategy and how the race was won: Lewis Hamilton won the 52-lap race for Mercedes, with a two-stop strategy. He started on the medium tyre, stopping for the hard compound on lap 24 and hard compound again on lap 41. The race was affected by an early red flag, which meant a re-start with drivers allowed to change tyres on the grid. This had a profound effect on strategy: seven drivers in the top 10 were able to stop just once.
Expected performance gap between the two compounds: 1.0 – 1.2 seconds per lap
1987 – A fantastically close race between the Williams drivers of double world champion Nelson Piquet and relative newcomer Nigel Mansell. Initially Nigel struggled with a vibration from a missing wheel weight, but once he had pitted to solve the issue he set a blistering pace. Determined to reduce the 29 second deficit he broke the lap record 11 times. With two laps to go he was tucked right up behind Piquet. He sold his more experienced teammate a dummy and passed down the inside into Stowe corner. The crowd were delighted with the heroic win and as he slowed on the way back to the pits he was mobbed by ecstatic fans who had invaded the track to show their appreciation.
1994 – Damon Hill won the British Grand Prix from a hard charging Michael Schumacher. Hill started 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.
2003 – The 2003 British Grand Prix was a fascinating race, but not for all the right reasons. On the 11th lap a man wearing a kilt waving banners ran down the track, straight towards the oncoming stream of cars exiting the very fast Becketts complex. The drivers were very quick to react and all flicked past safely. The protester was escorted to the side of the track and unceremoniously dumped to the ground by one of the excellent marshals, Stephen Green, who was awarded the BARC Browning Medal for outstanding bravery for his efforts.
The track invader was a Roman Catholic priest (now defrocked) carrying the banners “Read the Bible, The Bible is always right”. He was jailed for two months after pleading guilty to the offence of an aggravated trespass. He unfortunately is also famous for interrupting the 2004 Summer Olympic marathon by pushing the race leader into the crowd, ruining his race. He has also attempted to run infront of the horses at the Epsom Derby, stage Nazi supporting demonstrations at the 2006 World Cup in Germany and was seen sporting banners about the end of the monarchy at the hospital during the birth of Kate and William’s first baby.
The race was won by Rubens Barrichello, who interestingly won the 2000 German Grand Prix that was also interrupted by a track invader.
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 standing water on the track. The race was started on intermediate tyres and Lewis Hamilton, starting form 4th, had a great start to propel him alongside teammate Heikki Kovalainen. After brushing tyres with Heikki, Lewis tucked in behind but it did not take him long to emerge from the spray to take the lead into Stowe corner. Battling challenging conditions throughout, Hamilton completely dominated his rivals and crossed the line 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.
Nico Rosberg had the measure of team mate Lewis Hamilton through the whole Austrian Grand Prix weekend and only a mistake in final qualifying prevented him from total domination. Lewis will look to draw on the massive home support to give him that extra push to get back on terms. The gap at the top is only ten points and Nico will want to keep him honest.
Jenson Button has never finished on the podium in his home Grand Prix despite fifteen attempts. He is enduring a very difficult season with Mclaren and said “I want to be on the podium and win in front of my home crowd. When they’ve been so supportive you want to repay them. You’ve got to be realistic and realise that it is not possible right now, but it might be in the future.” Button is well loved in the UK, with whole grandstands turning pink last year in a tribute to his father John Button, who sadly passed away before the season started.
Pastor Maldonado will be looking to get into the points again this weekend after a strong showing in Austria. If he does so it will be the first time in his career that he has done so in three consecutive races. Nico Hulkenberg will also be looking to continue his rich vein of form after an impressive showing at Le Mans and in Austria two weeks ago.
SUPPORT RACES AND ENTERTAINMENT
Stoffel Vandoorne broke the pole position record in GP2 last time out at the Austrian Grand Prix as the Belgian went fastest for the seventh time. He also continued his winning streak with his fifth consecutive feature race win. He was unable to repeat the feat in the sprint race but finished second, with Rio Haryanto holding him off at the end of a thrilling race.
The GP3 season continued in Austria and saw maiden wins for Luca Ghiotto and Oscar Tunjo after two incident packed races with plenty of action and multiple safety car deployments.
Christopher Zochling took his first Porsche Supercup victory in Austria with a fantastic performance in his home race around the Red Bull Ring. He pulled off some outstanding overtakes to move to the front and then defended strongly to hold his position. Michael Ammermuller lost his championship lead and now lies third behind Christian Engelhart and new leader Philipp Eng.
This year fans will be treated to a stunning air display, normally only seen at events such as the Farnborough Air Show. The Red Arrows, who have been flying since 1965, demonstrate the very best of precision flying and the talents of the RAF service personnel. They will be followed by an impressive display by the Eurofighter Typhoon, that can climb vertically at a rate of 62,000 feet per minute thanks to the two EJ200 turbofan engines generating 20,250 lbs of thrust each! Finally the RAF Falcons parachute display team based at RAF Brize Norton will take to the air to dazzle the crowds with spectacular coordinated twists and turns.
To get the weekend kicked off in style there is a Madness concert being staged on the Thursday night for the 28,000 people expected to be camping at the circuit. When there is a lull in racing there are plenty of other activities to become engrossed in, such as Zorbing, high ropes, a pitstop and reaction challenge, electric go-karts, segway racing and giant Scalextric. If it all gets too much there will be a pub, massage parlour and even a jacuzzi in the campsite!
The Grand Prix After Party is held before a crowd of thousands of fans on the main stage behind the Arena grandstand and always has a fantastic atmosphere. This year there is music from Alesha Dixon, Rick Parfitt Jnr and a performance from The Severs. Between songs Tony Jardine conducts (often hilariously irreverent) interviews on stage, which usually include most of the drivers and some of the team personnel.
|2012||Mark Webber||Red Bull Renault|
|2010||Mark Webber||Red Bull Renault|
|2009||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Renault|
|2008||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren – Mercedes|
|2005||Jaun Pablo Montoya||McLaren – Mercedes|