Lewis Hamilton has the chance to join Jim Clark and Alain Prost with 5 British Grand Prix wins this weekend, and a home victory would be a timely boost for Lewis in the championship battle, as after his disappointment in Austria not only has he slipped to 20 points behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, but he is now only 15 points ahead of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas. Vettel does not have the added pressure of looking over his shoulder at his team-mate, as Kimi Raikkonen is not in the championship picture for Ferrari, but Kimi is beginning to come under pressure to perform, and will hope to be able to cause trouble for the Mercedes during the weekend. While Kimi could not keep Lewis behind in Austria, Vettel’s championship hopes were boosted by a former teammate, as Ricciardo managed what Kimi could not, and took what could be vital points off Hamilton. Red Bull’s performance in finishing ahead of both a Ferrari and Mercedes, and keeping within shouting distance of the race lead at Austria, a track that has not always been kind to them, will give hope that they can continue to get involved in the battle at individual races, so there promises to be plenty more twists and turns to come in the championship battle.
Last year’s race saw Mercedes Lewis Hamilton take his third British Grand Prix win in a row and fourth overall. Hamilton converted his pole position in a lights to flag win, but it was anything but easy, in a race started under safety car conditions due to a downpour prior to the race. In the tricky conditions Hamilton keep his cool to take the win, while Max Verstappen starred in the treacherous conditions, getting his Red Bull where it ought not have been, passing the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg in the wetter section of the race to go second and keeping the pressure on Lewis, before his race hopes faded as the track dried. Max ended up taking a well deserved second place after a penalty for Nico Rosberg for breaching the radio regulations in order to overcome a late gearbox problem. It was a tough day at the office for Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who had started the race with a grid penalty for a gearbox change, and was not able to make progress, incurring the wrath of the stewards and earning a penalty for pushing Massa wide off the track en route to a disappointing ninth place finish.
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 6 of the F1 teams.
While only McLaren (Woking) and Williams (Grove) officially 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 the run to the first corner can be potentially race deciding (Sebastian Vettel will need no reminding, after taking pole position his race was ruined here in 2010 after he was pushed wide by a fast starting for once Mark Webber in the second Red Bull) – so watch out for fireworks if the car in second place on the grid can replicate Valtteri Bottas perfect anticipation of the lights in Austria!!
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 in 2015).
From the Farm Curve the cars spurt back past the 1st DRS detection point braking into a tight right hander Village (where Sebastian Vettel ran Felipe Massa off track last year in the damp, leading to a 5 second penalty for Vettel), 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 (it was here in 2014 that we saw Fernando Alonso get past Sebastian Vettel in a wonderful move on the outside, before Sebastian Vettel repaid the favour on the inside after the two had run side by side through several corners later in the race).
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.
This is a quick left right kink, Maggots, leading immediately into Becketts, 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). It was through Becketts and into the entry to Chapel that Max Verstappen pulled off a stunning move to overtake Nico Rosberg in the wet last year, simply driving around the Mercedes!!
At the end of the long Hanger Straight the cars bend right around Stowe (Nico Rosberg took advantage of DRS to get back past Max Verstappen later on in the race on a drying track last year), a sweeping corner leading to a short sprint past the pit entrance before braking hard into Vale (not too hard, as Hamilton found in 2015 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:
The British Grand Prix, which marks the halfway point of the season, will feature the P Zero White medium, P Zero Yellow soft, and P Zero Red supersoft tyres: a change to the original nomination of hard, medium and soft. This change was made as a result of the information gained from previous races, and it marks the first time that the supersoft has been seen at the British Grand Prix. Silverstone is well-known for placing heavy demands on tyres, thanks to quite an abrasive surface and plenty of high-speed corners that put a lot of energy through the tyres. With it being a home race for so many of the teams, there’s always a unique atmosphere at Silverstone thanks also to the passionate and knowledgeable British fans.
THE THREE NOMINATED COMPOUNDS
1/ Red SUPERSOFT
2/ Yellow SOFT
3/ White MEDIUM
THE CIRCUIT FROM A TYRE POINT OF VIEW
- Silverstone is all about lateral energy, thanks to high-speed corners like Becketts.
- With a softer tyre selection than ever seen before, more than one pit stop is likely.
- British weather is famously variable: anything from sunshine to rain is possible.
- The abrasive surface offers high levels of grip, which takes even more out of the tyres.
- The straights are generally short, so the cars run reasonably high downforce levels.
- Track is intensively used during the year, so the surface tends to rubber in quite quickly.
- Logistically, it’s an easy race: Pirelli’s Didcot motorsport facility is only 30 minutes away.
MARIO ISOLA – HEAD OF CAR RACING
“The decision to bring softer tyres to Silverstone than we had originally planned was taken by Pirelli, but with the full approval of the drivers, FIA, teams and promoters, who have appreciated what we are trying to do with this more aggressive nomination. This should open up extra possibilities for different strategies and push teams towards more than one pit stop, although we’ll obviously have a better idea of exact wear and degradation rates when we get there, especially with the supersoft that makes its Silverstone race debut. With Silverstone being among the most demanding tracks for tyres of the entire season, it will be interesting to see how one of the softest tyres in the 2017 range performs there. A lot will depend on the weather: in the past, we’ve seen an extremely wide range of conditions and temperatures”.
- With an extremely busy schedule, the track action begins on Thursday, with Formula 2 and GP3 practice. This should lay more rubber on the track for F1 practice on Friday.
- Reigning world champion Nico Rosberg was reunited with his 2014 Mercedes W05 in England, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Valtteri Bottas also drove the car.
- Pirelli’s 2018 testing campaign resumes after the British Grand Prix, with Force India and Williams driving prototype tyres in a blind test with slick tyres on Tuesday and Wednesday.
SILVERSTONE MINIMUM STARTING PRESSURES (SLICKS)
22.5 psi (front) – 20.5 psi (rear)
EOS CAMBER LIMIT -3.25° (front) | -2.00° (rear)
Mercedes seem to have gotten on top of their tyre issues one way or another, and look to be able to consistently deliver their potential, but annoying little problems have cost Lewis Hamilton vital points over the last two races, when on out and out pace he will no doubt feel he should have won both races. Hamilton has the best form of the leading drivers at his home race, and having won the last 3 British Grand Prix, it’s hard to look past Lewis for victory this weekend. The British summer is used to throwing up surprises, and should rain make its way over the track at the weekend Lewis has shown in the past he is well capable of handling any conditions, but following on from his sensational showing last year, Max Verstappen will surely fancy his chances should there be some rain, provided his Red Bull can hold together, he’s certainly due a bit of luck. Daniel Ricciardo has certainly been getting the rub of the green lately, and the championship contenders will certainly have to keep an eye on both Red Bulls this weekend after Ricciardo’s fine race showing in Austria. Valtteri Bottas has pulled himself back into championship contention with his win in Austria, and while it’s hard to see him getting the better of Hamilton in qualifying, if he can repeat his ‘unbelievable’ start from Austria and get ahead of Lewis we might see some anxious faces on the Mercedes pitwall! Ferrari have shown good race pace recently and will look to take the fight to Mercedes, but have looked to be every so slightly behind Mercedes and will start as slight underdogs around Silverstone, and will need to make sure they are on top of their game if they are to keep the pressure on Mercedes. It will be interesting to see how Kimi Raikkonen responds to the pressure to perform at Ferrari, if Sebastian Vettel is to end Ferrari’s long wait for a drivers championship this year, Kimi’s ability to cause trouble for the Mercedes drivers will be crucial.
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”.
F2, GP3 and the Porsche Supercup will provide the supporting entertainment.
In the Porsche Supercup last time out in Austria saw Australian rookie Matt Campbell take the chequered flag for his first victory, leading all the way from pole position but surviving a late safety car to finish just ahead of Germany’s Michael Ammermuller, who continues to lead the championship from Dennis Olsen, with Campbell now up to third in the standings.
In GP3, the were two first time winners in Austria, with Mercedes junior George Russel claiming the feature race win, leading home teammates Jack Aitken, Nirei Fukuzumi and Anthoine Hubert in an amazing 1-2-3-4 result for the ART team, while the sprint race was won by Raoul Hyman, who started from pole position after finishing 8th in the feature race, with Ferrari junior Giuiano Alesi coming home second and Honda junior Nirei Fukuzumi taking the final podium place, a result that sees Fukuzumi lead teammate Russel by a single point in the championship.
In F2, Ferrari academy ace Charles LeClerc continued his dominance in qualifying, taking yet another pole position and converting it to his fourth victory of the season in the feature race, but his charge to the championship took a small setback as he spun out of the sprint race on a hectic safety car restart, LeClerc colliding with team-mate Antonio Fuoco, who had slowed suddenly in front of LeClerc after running out of track while trying to go around the outside of Oliver Rowland at Turn 4. Artem Markelov hung on to win the sprint race, his first win since winning the opening feature race in Spain. Markelov is now 3rd in the points standings, just 3 points adrift of Renault Sport development driver Oliver Rowland, but with the gap between Rowland and first placed LeClerc standing at 49 points, it’s hard to envisage anyone other than the impressive LeClerc taking the title this year.
|2012||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault|
|2010||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault|
|2009||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault|
|2005||Juan Pablo Montoya||McLaren-Mercedes|