Brought to you by TJ13 circuit correspondent Marek
After the roller coaster ride of Austria it’s straight on to the British Grand Prix in Silverstone. The gloves (and wings) are off and the championship battle between the two Mercedes driver is on.
Jim Clark and Alain Prost have the record for the most British Grand Prix wins, with 5 each, but of the active drivers home favourite Lewis Hamilton leads the way on 3 wins, and after snatching victory on the last lap in Spielberg, he will surely be feeling confident of adding number four. In the championship battle Nico Rosberg must be feeling the pressure after yet another unsuccessful encounter with Lewis on track saw his championship lead cut to 11 points. Ferrari might not want to admit it, but with Vettel and Raikkonen now tied for 3rd some 58 points back on Rosberg, and Toto Wolff adamant (again) that this will be the last time the two Mercedes drivers play tag, the championship dream would appear to fading fast for Ferrari.
Last year’s race saw Mercedes lock out the front row, well clear of Williams who occupied the second row, and Ferrari completed the team by team progression by filling the third row. A lightning getaway by both Williams drivers saw them split the poorly starting Mercedes with Massa taking the lead. Hamilton then lost second to Bottas after trying too hard to pass Massa on the restart from a safety car brought about by a series of collisions, with both Lotus and McLaren having the unfortunate sight of seeing their two drivers collide. Bottas pestered Williams to get Massa out of the way, but when he finally got past was not able to pull clear. Lewis was able to pass both Williams in the pits for the lead, with Rosberg stuck behind them. Rain ultimately settled the race. As the rain started to fall Rosberg initially started to gain ground on teammate Hamilton after passing the two Williams, who were struggling badly in the damp track on slicks. Hamilton and Vettel got their timing just right, pitting for intermediates when needed, while Rosberg delayed his change to inters one lap to many, and with it his chance of challenging for victory ended. So Hamilton won from Rosberg, with Vettel grabbing third from the Williams drivers thanks to his well timed stop.
The British Grand Prix can claim to be the home to the first ever round of the Formula One World Championship in 1950, and has been a fixture on the calendar ever since (a feat matched only the Italian Grand Prix).
It is also the home race for 7 of the F1 teams.
While only McLaren (Woking), Williams (Grove), and Manor (Banbury) fly the British flag, there are also the nominally German Mercedes (Brackley), Austrian Red Bull (Milton Keynes), French Renault (Enstone) and Indian outfit Force India (Silverstone) based in Britain.
In addition, American Haas also have a base in Banbury, and Italian Torro Rosso have their wind tunnel in Bicester.
The race has thrown up 7 first time winners, but most of these were in the early years of the championship. There hasn’t been a first time winner at the British Grand Prix since Johnny Herbert secured his first win for Benetton way back in 1995. Herbert benefitted from Williams Damon Hill clumsy overtaking move on Benetton’s Michael Schumacher at the Priory corner, taking both out of the race, as well as problems with David Coulthard’s pit lane speed limiter.
Prior to the formation of the Formula One World Championship, races had been held in Brooklands, a banked track which could claim to be the first purpose built race track in the world, seeing its first race in 1907.
The first British Grand Prix was held at Brooklands in 1926, won by Louis Wagner and Robert Senechal sharing the drive in a Delage.
During World War I and II Brooklands was utilised for the production of military aircraft during the two world wars, and by the time the Formula One World Championship was formed, a new track was hosting races.
Silverstone, a disused airfield had been converted for use as a race track, hosting its first official event in 1948, the RAC International Grand Prix (won by Luigi Villoresi in a Maserati).
The first round of the inaugural Formula One Championship in 1950 was hosted at Silverstone, being given the honorific title Grand Prix of Europe. That race was dominated by Alfa Romeo who swept the top 3, with Giuseppe Farina taking the win.
Since then, the British Grand prix has alternated between 3 tracks, Silverstone holding the early Grand Prix before alternating first with Aintree (a track based around the Grand National course), which hosted the British Grand Prix on 5 occasions between 1955 and 1962, and then with Brands Hatch (a wonderfully fast flowing track with plenty of elevation change), which would stage races every second year from 1964 up until holding its final British Grand Prix in 1986 (a race won by Nigel Mansell for Williams but marred by a massive pile up at the start that saw Jacques Laffite suffer two broken legs). From 1987 onwards Silverstone was awarded the hosting of the Grand Prix, as Brands Hatch lost out with FISA looking to give the Grand Prix a permanent home. Silverstone looked set to be replaced by Donnington as the site for the British Grand Prix from 2010 onwards, but the funding for the Donnington project dried up, and Silverstone has remained the home of the British Grand Prix since.
The Silverstone track has seen numerous layout changes over the decades, with the 2 major revisions occurring in 1991 and 2010. The track layout used in 1950 saw the track run around the airport perimeter roads. The start/finish line and pits were located on the Farm Straight, with the track winding around through Woodcote, over to Copse, on though Maggots to Becketts, before turning back through Chapel down to Stowe, turning again down to Club before returning to the start via Abbey.
In 1952 the pits area was relocated from their original spot between Abbey and Woodcote to stand between Woodcote and Copse, with the start finish line moving from the Farm Straight to be positioned on the straight after Woodcote.
The general layout though remained unchanged over the following decades. During the 1973 Grand Prix, there was a major crash at Woodcote which spurred the first major change to the circuit.
Jackie Stewart slid around the outside of Woodcote onto the start finish straight in the lead at the end of the lap, but behind him there was mayhem as Jody Scheckter in fourth place spun his McLaren around on the exit of Woodcote, cutting across the track and bouncing of the barrier on the inside before coming to a halt in the middle of the track.
This caused a major pile up as the field came flying around the final corner, with the race stopped as debris was cleared and Andrea de Adamich was removed from his car with a broken ankle, which ended his F1 career.
For the next British Grand Prix to be held at Silverstone in 1975, a chicane was introduced at Woodcote to reduce speed. The track remained in this layout until 1987, when this section on the entry to Woodcote was altered again, replaced with a new chicane, Bridge.
The first major reworking of the track layout came in 1991. The track was completely overhauled, with only the corners at Woodcote and Abbey remaining as they were in the old layout.
Copse corner was slowed down by tightening the corner, providing more room for run off. The section from Maggots through Becketts and on to Chapel was completed reworked.
Where Maggots had been an open left handed curve heading into a short straight to a winding right hander at Becketts, this was replaced with a wonderful fast flick left right through the new chicane at Maggots and immediately into the new Becketts corner, a tighter left then right and back onto Chapel.
The exit from Stowe was modified, the exit slowed leading into a new Vale section, which then flicked left right back into Club.
The cars arrived at the existing Abbey corner, and from there the cars were diverted half way down the Farm Straight through a new right hand corner Bridge into Priory and back through Brooklands and Luffield to return to the unchanged Woodcote.
This layout continued until 1994, which saw further changes introduced to slow the track and increase run off areas following the tragic deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger in Imola, with changes made to Copse, Stowe, Vale, Abbey and Priory.
Further small changes were made over the following years, with Stowe revised again in 1996 to create a faster curving corner, and in 1997 the section from Priory through Brookfield and on to Luffield was revised.
In 2010 the track layout was given its second major layout changeThis saw the track move infield from Abbey through the new arena section before coming back to the old track at Brookfield, removing Bridge and Priory from the circuit in the process.
For 2011, the pits complex and start finish line moved to its current location.
After the highs and lows of Spielberg, the track at Silverstone is more level, with just 11.3 meters difference between the highest and lowest parts of the circuit.
After the short lap of Austria, Silverstone features one of the longer laps on the calendar, at just under 5.9 km. This is a high speed track, with plenty of fast corners that feed into each other, meaning any error can see a driver struggle for momentum over the lap. With the cars spending a large portion of the lap on full throttle the track is tough on the power units, and conversely very easy on the brakes, almost too easy, as keeping the brakes at optimum temperature can be an issue.
From the starting grid the field blast down the start finish straight and into the first corner, the fast right hander Abbey.
Pole position sits on the outside of the track, and with the variance in getaway speed we are seeing this season there will be every chance for the car in second on the grid can try to hold the inside position and gain the lead into the first corner (as Mark Webber managed to get the jump on teammate Sebastien Vettel from an all Red Bull front row in 2010).
With a relatively fast first corner watch out for cars taking the outside line into Abbey from the start and trying to hang around the inside at the second bend, the left hander Farm Curve (scene of Max Verstappen’s spin into the barriers during last year’s race).
From the Farm Curve the cars spurt back past the 1st DRS detection point braking into a tight right hander Village (where Nico Rosberg got past Felipe Massa last year), leading into the slow left hander Loop, closely followed by another left hander at Aintree.
The right/left/right/left start to the lap should provide plenty of excitement on the opening lap, and we can expect to see plenty of jostling for position through these first few turns as the inside line swaps from one side of the track back to the other.
The cars brush the kerbs exiting at Aintree and fly down the first DRS activation zone the Wellington Straight. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) ran wide here in 2014 on the opening lap and lost control as he tried to re-join the track on the Wellington Straight, causing the race to be red flagged.
At the end of the Wellington Straight the cars turn into Brooklands, a long winding left hander, leading into the right hander at Luffield.
In 2012 Mark Webber in a Red Bull used his DRS advantage down the Wellington Straight to pass Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari on the outside of Brooklands to take the lead 4 laps from the end of the race and held Alonso at bay through Luffield to take victory.This wonderfully judged move was in stark contrast to Williams Pastor Maldonado’s wild lunge down the inside of Sergio Perez (Sauber) earlier in the same race!
As the cars wind slowly around Luffield they put the power down on the exit over the kerbs and wind right through Woodcote, heading onto another straight leading into Copse, a fast right hander.
Taking plenty of kerb on the outside of Copse the cars sprint down another straight into a marvellous sweeping stretch through Maggots, Becketts and Chapel, with the 2nd DRS detection point coming on the entry to Maggots.
Rosberg nipped past Bottas here last year as Bottas couldn’t find traction exiting Copse on a track slippy from rain.
This is a quick left right kink, Maggots, leading immediately into Becketts (where Sergio Perez nipped by Sebastien Vettel last year), a winding left hander leading into long a long right hander, running wide on the exit over the kerbs at Chapel where there is a quick flick back right to left and on to the Hanger Straight (the second DRS activation zone).
At the end of the long Hanger Straight the cars bend right around Stowe, where Massa (Ferrari) passed a strongly defending Schumacher (Mercedes) on the inside in 2012, a sweeping corner leading to a short sprint past the pit entrance before braking hard into Vale (not too hard, as Hamilton found last year when overdoing it trying to pass Massa on the restart from the safety car, losing position to Bottas Williams through Club as a result), a combination of left and right turns leading into the final corner Club, winding right over the kerbs and back onto the start finish straight.
TYRES WITH PIRELLI:
Silverstone comes straight off the back of Austria but the two events could not be more different: after selecting the softest tyres in the P Zero range for Austria, the hardest tyres in the line-up have been chosen for Silverstone (with only the soft being nominated for both, which is present at every race this season). It’s only the second time this year that the hardest tyres have been selected – after Spain – and this is due to the high-energy, high-speed demands of the British circuit, which features fast straights and rapid changes of direction.
THE CIRCUIT FROM A TYRE POINT OF VIEW:
- Silverstone is one of the circuits that take the most lateral energy out of the tyres all year.
- With high levels of downforce pushing onto the cars, the tyres face forces from all directions.
- Weather is notoriously unpredictable: there can be bright sunshine or torrential rain.
- At least two pit stops per car are expected, due to high levels of tyre wear and degradation.
- The asphalt offers high levels of grip, which works the surface of the tyre even harder.
- As was the case in 2014, Silverstone will host a two-day in-season test after the grand prix.
THE THREE NOMINATED COMPOUNDS:
- Orange hard: not seen so often this year but likely to be used at some point in Silverstone.
- White medium: will be a popular race tyre and is one of the mandatory sets, along with hard.
- Yellow soft: seen at every GP year, the softest tyre available in Silverstone is the most popular choice among the teams in terms of quantities chosen.
HOW IT WAS A YEAR AGO:
- The race was affected by rain and safety cars, which skewed the strategy. Race winner Lewis Hamilton stopped twice, going from medium to hard on lap 19 then to intermediate on lap 43.
- With rain suddenly falling towards the end, the best alternative strategy was an opportunistic one. Sebastian Vettel’s early stop for intermediates allowed him to make up two places and finish on the podium.
PAUL HEMBERY, PIRELLI MOTORSPORT DIRECTOR:
“With the majority of teams choosing mostly the softest compound available – a consistent trend we have seen all year – it’s clear that the intention of many drivers is to run quite an aggressive strategy, which on a track like Silverstone could result in multiple pit stops. As last year showed, the weather is also a typically British variable, which means that we are likely to be in for an unpredictable race”.
- There are no modifications to the circuit layout, surface or infrastructure this year.
- Silverstone returns to the test calendar after the race, but this is not a dedicated tyre test.
- However, Mercedes will run an additional car for Pascal Wehrlein at the test, which will be a 2014-specification car fitted with prototype tyres (in 2016 dimensions, but with new technical contents).
OTHER THINGS THAT HAVE CAUGHT OUR EYE RECENTLY:
- Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull have all made differing tyre nominations for Silverstone, while Haas is the only team that has different choices for each driver.
It will be hard to look past Mercedes here, or anywhere else it seems this year. Given a clean run we could expect to see Hamilton and Rosberg running well clear of the field.
But the British Grand Prix has a habit of throwing the odd spanner in the works.
Although Lewis Hamilton won here from pole position last year, pole has not tended to translate into victory at Silverstone, before that you need to go back as far as 2009 for a British Grand Prix won by the car starting from first on the grid, Sebastien Vettel in a Red Bull triumphing that day.
The British summer has also had a habit of throwing in the odd shower or two, with some memorable British Grand Prix taking place on wet tracks. Last year Lewis Hamilton came out on top after judging the changing conditions perfectly, and his first British Grand Prix victory in his title winning season of 2008 was a dominant performance on a wet track, so expect Lewis to shine if there is a summer shower on Sunday.
Assuming a clean qualifying the opening lap will be critical for the title contenders, as any car coming between them at the start could clear the way for the other to build a comfortable lead, the type Toto Wolff might just think makes pushing hard to catch up unnecessary, Multi 446 or Multi 644 anyone!! With silly season seeming even sillier than usual this year, the last thing either Mercedes driver will want to see at the start is a driver desperate for a 2017 contract nipping ahead.
Williams have shown well here over the last few seasons, and will be hoping to recapture that form and put their disappointing weekend in Austria behind them. Valtteri Bottas, who recorded his best career result with second here in 2014 will be among those hoping he can be in the right place if the Mercedes duo are hit by misfortune (or each other).
Red Bull have made great strides this year, and will be encouraged by their performance in Austria, a track on which they had struggled in the PU era, and Verstappen and Ricciardo could well play a spoiler role, while Ferrari are running out of chances to unlock the potential they believe they have in their 2016 challenger before Sergio Marchionne decides all bets are off and time to focus on 2017.
2010 Red Bulls Mark Webber, who wasn’t all that bad for a number 2 driver, claims the first of his two British Grand Prix wins.
With Webber and Red Bull team mate Sebastien Vettel having collided earlier in the season in Turkey while disputing the lead, tension within the team was high.
For the race Red Bull had brought a new front wing, but when Vettel’s was damaged during practice and limited supply of the new wing, the team handed Webber’s new front wing to Vettel, who went on to take a narrow pole from Webber.
At the post qualifying press conference, the drivers were asked about the wing decision. A clearly furious Webber said ‘the team was happy with the result’, and as Vettel tried to answer Webber theatrically slammed his glass of water down on the table – an interesting battle for the first corner seemed inevitable.
At the race start a pumped up Webber got the better start and jumped Vettel, with Vettel making contact with Hamilton and picking up a puncture as Webber defended the inside of the first corner, dropping Vettel back down the field and taking him out of the fight for the race win.
Webber led the race from Lewis Hamilton, but despite having to handle a restart after a safety car period to clear debris from Pedro de la Rossa’s Sauber, Webber was able resist the pressure to keep Hamilton at bay and take the win, overtaking team mate Vettel in the championship in the process.
Webber famously cracked ‘not bad for a number 2 driver’ on the radio after he took the chequered flag.
1998 – Michael Schumacher takes a controversial win for Ferrari. Another race run on a wet track after a pre-race downpour, with many cars spinning off in the poor conditions. Polesitter Mika Hakkinen led and had built up a commanding lead over title rival Schumacher, Mika even able to retain the lead despite spinning off the damp track at speed, collecting the car after a quick 360 degree spin and driving across the grass to rejoin the track, albeit with a damaged car. Mika’s lead was eliminated however when the safety car was deployed. On the restart Schumacher overtook Hakkinen after Mika ran wide and off the track, and Schumacher pulled clear to lead to the end.
However Schumacher was handed a stop and go penalty for overtaking under the safety car period, and the race ended in uncertainty, with Schumacher pushing hard to make time despite enjoying a healthy lead as the nature of the punishment was uncertain, with Ferrari delaying taking any penalty while they argued their case with the race officials. Ferrari eventually called Schumacher into the pit lane on the last lap, with Michael crossing the finish line in the pits and winning the race before ‘serving’ his penalty.
1988 – Ayrton Senna winning a soaking race for McLaren in the great Brazilian’s only British Grand Prix victory. Gerhard Berger started from pole in a Ferrari, the only time in 1988 a McLaren would not start from pole. Senna dominated the wet race, sweeping past Berger as the Ferrari was held up trying to lap Alain Prost in the second McLaren. Prost had endured a terrible race, dropping back from the start and falling steadily back, eventually pulling into the pits and calling it a day while well outside points contention. Senna went on to win comfortably from Mansell, with Berger dropping back to 6th with fuel consumption concerns, before eventually running out of fuel at the last corner, dropping 3 places from 6th to 9th around the final bend.
1987 – A famous home victory for Nigel Mansell. Williams were dominant, with Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell locking out the front row. Mansell made a good initial start but Alain Prost (McLaren) nipped past both Williams on the outside of the first corner. There was no match for the Williams that day however, and both Williams were soon in front. Piquet led from Mansell, with Nigel struggling with a worsening vibration caused by a balancing weight coming off one of his wheels. Piquet was running to the end without changing tyres, but Mansell, forced to pit, emerged on fresh rubber and proceeded to chase down Piquet, banging in lap record after lap record as he tried to cut the gap. Mansell caught Piquet, and as Nelson tried to block off the inside of the track as they came down the Hangar Straight, Mansell feigned to try to overtake on the outside, quickly jinking back onto the inside line as Piquet tried to cover the outside, the cars going wheel to wheel into Stowe, but Mansell now coming out on top. With Mansell’s fuel gauge showing minus as he started the last lap he charged on to take victory, running out of fuel after the flag, his slowing Williams engulfed by delighted fans who swarmed onto the track to celebrate his victory.
1976 – In a race held at Brands Hatch, James Hunt took the victory but was disqualified 2 months later with the race handed to runner up Niki Lauda.
At the start Hunt made a poor getaway, with Regazzoni (Ferrarri) coming through to challenge his team mate, polesitter Lauda, on the inside into Paddock Hill. The two Ferraris collided, with Regazzoni spinning back across the track, Hunt’s Mclaren being launched into the air over the backwards facing Ferrari, nearly tipping over. Jacques Laffite in a Ligier wasn’t able to avoid Regazzoni, crashing into the Ferrari. Hunt’s front suspension was badly damaged, and he crucially wasn’t able to make it around the lap as the race was stopped to clear debris from the aftermath of the crash. Hunt dashed back to the pits, while the McLaren mechanics pushed his damaged car back to the pits.
During the cleanup officials argued over the right of the drivers to take the restart in the spare cars. McLaren worked fast and furious to rebuild Hunt’s damaged car, and managed to repair it and get it to the grid for Hunt to start without fear of a penalty for using the spare car (Laffite and Regazzoni both took the start in their spare cars, but both would retire from the race). On the second start Lauda led from Hunt, and they held position for much of the race, but from mid distance Lauda began to develop trouble changing gear, falling back and allowing Hunt to pass and take the lead. Hunt pulled clear to take the chequered flag almost a minute clear of Lauda.
But the drama continued after the race with Ferrari protesting that Hunt should not have been allowed to restart, as he had not completed the first lap. The appeal was dismissed, but Ferrari appealed to the FIA, with Ferrari being ultimately successful and having Hunt disqualified over two months later, with the result being adjusted to hand Lauda the win.
1955 – Stirling Moss takes his first Grand Prix win and the first win for a British driver at British GP – but did Fangio let him? The race was held at Aintree, and Mercedes were the dominant force. Moss took pole and led from the start from Fangio, with the lead exchanging hands between the two team-mates until Moss retook the lead for good on lap 26 of 90. Moss eventually pulled away from Fangio, with the gap going out as far as 12s, before Fangio reeled him back in. As Moss slowed on last lap Fangio latched onto the back of Moss car, with the pair crossing the line side by side, Moss half a car length ahead. Moss thanked Fangio for allowing him become the first British driver win his home Grand Prix, but Fangio never admitted to letting him, later saying “I don’t think I could have won, even if I’d wanted to”.
GP2, GP3 and the Porsche Supercup will provide the supporting entertainment.
In GP2, the title race is still wide open, with former Ferrari Driver Academy member Raffaele Marciello taking the series lead following the rain affected races in Austria. Mitch Evans is now in second following his victory in the feature race. Early leader Norman Nato is hanging on in third and previous leader Artem Markelov is fourth having failed to score in Austria. British driver Jordan King will head to his home race with his confidence boosted by winning the sprint race, while countrymen Oliver Rowland and Alex Lynn will hope to build on their places on the podium in the sprint race. Sergey Sirotkin and Pierre Gasly must be wondering how to turn their luck around after both failed to convert their pace into a meaningful points haul again in Spielberg. Sirotkin took his first GP2 victory here last year in his rookie season to break Stoffel Vandoorne’s run of feature race victories…if he is to kick start his season then this is the place to do it.
In GP3, Charles Leclerc (who will get a run around for Haas in FP1) looked untouchable after a supreme performance to win the feature race, recovering from a slow start to stamp his authority on the field in just a few corners, taking the victory from his ART teammates Alexander Albon and McLaren young driver Nyck de Vries. But the sprint race proved a disaster, with Leclerc dropping to the back of the field early on before ultimately crashing out. As well as seeing his championship lead over Albon cut to 5 points , he will now have to face a five place grid penalty for Silverstone for his role in the crash that took out Arden drivers Jake Dennis and Tatiana Calderon. With Leclerc’s grid penalty, Albon and third placed Antonio Fuoco will be looking to take advantage of the opportunity to gain ground on Leclerc in the overall standings in Silverstone.
In the Porsche Supercup, Sven Muller took the victory in Austria in a race affected by the wet track and safety car, and moves into second in the series after Mathieu Jaminet, who has yet to taste victory but has scored consistently. The winner of the opening two rounds Matteo Cairoli was disqualified from fourth in Austria after his car was found to be underweight in post race scrutineering, and now slips back to third in the championship.
|2012||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault|
|2010||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault|
|2009||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault|
|2005||Juan Pablo Montoya||McLaren-Mercedes|