British Grand Prix Preview

By on Thursday, June 30, 2011

F1 heads home as Round 9 of the 2011 FIA Formula One World Championship takes place at the Silverstone Circuit in Great Britain. Several of the teams are based in the UK, with Force India located opposite the circuit itself and Red Bull, Renault and Williams all a stones throw away. Virgin, McLaren and Team Lotus all operate from inside the United Kingdom. Here's's preview of what could be a classic race

Ricciardo in, Karthikeyan out

Inevitably as the F1 season draws towards the mid-point, there are driver changes to be had. We've had one already, although that was enforced through injury rather than a contractual reason. Red Bull has decided that its time to give Daniel Ricciardo a race seat, although the performances of Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari - who put in a seemingly career saving drive in Valencia - mean that Toro Rosso is no longer an option. Red Bull has reached a deal with Hispania Racing that will see Ricciardo make his debut at this race in place of Narain Karthikeyan, meaning that Karthikeyan's money from Tata that he brings to Hispania is less than many estimated. The move enables Red Bull's motorsport advisor Helmut Marko to assess Ricciardo in a race situation and to compare him against the known quantity of Vitantonio Liuzzi, who raced for Red Bull in 2005 and then Toro Rosso in 2006-7. Karthikeyan will step back into the seat for the Indian Grand Prix.

Track changes

Whilst Silverstone undertook a major track layout alteration for 2010, there are some major alterations for 2011. In terms of the track, the layout remains the same, although the bump at Abbey has been removed after complaints from the MotoGP riders that it was unsafe for their use. The big change is that the pits and paddock complex is now situated on the short straight between Club and Abbey, meaning that the first corner will still be a fast right hander (like it used to be at Copse), although the cars will ultimately bunch up for the Loop section which could be an accident blackspot in all formulae. The pit lane will start at Vale and will exit on the inside of Abbey, meaning that time lost in the pits will be minimised in comparison to other circuits. It has led to speculation that on the final lap, drivers could gain an advantage by taking to the pits rather than negotiating Vale and Club, for the finish line is just after the exit of Club. No doubt F1 boffins are calculating that one. For F1 fans though it may seem weird to see the start line in a different place, although there is no doubt that Silverstone needed a modernisation and the new Wing is a brilliant inclusion to this historic circuit.

Regulation changes

Regulation changes for Silverstone see the banning of off throttle blowing. According to the Official F1 website, this is what that means: "On road cars, the engine exhaust exits are normally located at the rear of the car. On a Formula One car they are deliberately located in front of the rear wheels so that the hot, fast flowing exhaust gases can be channelled towards the car’s rear diffuser. This increases airflow through the diffuser and in turn increases the amount of downforce the diffuser produces. Normally the engine will only produce exhaust gases when the driver is on the throttle. This means when the driver lifts off, the blown diffuser is suddenly robbed of the additional airflow. To get around this, some teams have modified their engine mapping so that when the driver lifts off, although fuel supply and ignition are cut, airflow through the exhaust - and hence to the diffuser -continues. This technique has become known as ‘cold blowing’ - the exhaust is still ‘blowing’ into the diffuser, but that airflow is now ‘cold’ since no fuel or ignition is involved."

This change is thought to be where Red Bull gain most of their advantage, but don't for one moment think that Vettel is suddenly going to slip down the order. The car is still supreme in other areas and whilst Helmut Marko reckons it will cost the reigning champions 0.5s a lap, it is unlikely to change the order. Both McLaren drivers sounded downbeat about the changes, claiming that it will be their team - not Red Bull - that will be affected the most. Similarly, the change will undoubtedly hurt Renault, for their car has been largely designed around off throttle blowing. Just listen to an onboard of the R31. Sauber could be the midfield team to benefit, for they do not currently use off throttle blowing.

Stats & facts

Past winners:

2010 - M. Webber (Red Bull)
2009 - S. Vettel (Red Bull)
2008 - L. Hamilton (McLaren)
2007 - K. Raikkonen (Ferrari)
2006 - F. Alonso (Renault)
2005 - J. Montoya (McLaren)
2004 - M. Schumacher (Ferrari)
2003 - R. Barrichello (Ferrari)

  • Lap record: 1.30.874 (Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F10, 2010)
  • Length: 5.901 km a lap, 52 laps for a race
  • Race date: 10th July 2011, Start time 1pm local time

Entry List

1 | Sebastian Vettel | Red Bull Racing Renault
2 | Mark Webber | Red Bull Racing Renault
3 | Lewis Hamilton | Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
4 | Jenson Button | Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
5 | Fernando Alonso | Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
6 | Felipe Massa | Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
7 | Michael Schumacher | Mercedes Grand Prix
8 | Nico Rosberg | Mercedes Grand Prix
9 | Nick Heidfeld | Renault F1 Team
10 | Vitaly Petrov | Renault F1 Team
11 | Rubens Barrichello | AT&T Williams Cosworth
12 | Pastor Maldonado | AT&T Williams Cosworth
14 | Adrian Sutil | Force India Mercedes
15 | Paul di Resta | Force India Mercedes
16 | Kamui Kobayashi | Sauber Ferrari
17 | Sergio Perez | Sauber Ferrari
18 | Sebastien Buemi | Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
19 | Jaime Alguersuari | Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
20 | Heikki Kovalainen | Team Lotus Renault
21 | Jarno Trulli | Team Lotus Renault
22 | Daniel Ricciardo | Hispania Racing Team Cosworth
23 | Vitantonio Liuzzi | Hispania Racing Team Cosworth
24 | Timo Glock | Marussia Virgin Cosworth
25 | Jerome d'Ambrosio | Marussia Virgin Cosworth


Lewis Hamilton's onboard lap in Q3 2010

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