Formula One switches its focus from the last-lap drama at Spielberg to a guaranteed action-packed weekend at Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix and the tenth round of the championship. The paddock travels to the location that hosted the very first Grand Prix in 1950, in one of the only two countries with a permanent presence on the Formula 1 calendar, alongside Italy.
Silverstone is not just one of the highlights of the season for every driver, it is also a special event for both the fans - due to its history and atmosphere - and for the people who work in Formula One. Eight of the 11 teams are home-based in the UK and plenty of factory staff comes to watch their team at the track during the entire weekend.
Teams and drivers will be spending some extra time at Silverstone for the two-day in-season test on Tuesday and Wednesday after the race.
Silverstone is located at a former WWII Royal Air Force station and the perimetre track around the airfield was the area used for racing before the construction of a dedicated circuit. The track layout has evolved over the years with the major redesign changes happening in the 1990s.
The inaugural race at Silverstone in 1950 - won by Giuseppe Farina - was graced by the presence of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and marked the only time a reigning monarch has attended a motor race in Britain. The British GP has also been held at Aintree and Brands Hatch, before the event relocated permanently to Silverstone in 1987.
Having a reputation as one of the few remaining power circuits on the calendar, the long, flat and fast track produces one of the most challenging races of the season. Its high-speed nature makes it enjoyable to drive even if a quick lap requires bravery and implies pulling some high G-forces. The most fitted car for this circuit is the one that is fast on the straights but also has a strong aerodynamic package to cope with the high-speed corners and swift changes of direction.
“It’s a really cool track, especially the fast part through Maggotts, Becketts and Chapel corners. When you have the grip in the car there, you really get the sensation of the g-forces. Everything’s pushing down. You really want to get the first part of the flowing corners right. If you don’t, you just lose a lot of time. When the car is very stable and has good balance, you can go flat out and really push it to the limit. That’s where F1 is at its best”, says Haas F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean.
“I think probably Baku we were flat out for longer periods of time, but Silverstone is a power track as well. You need good power to get a good lap time there. There are a few straight lines and a few overtaking opportunities but, mainly, Silverstone is about the grip of the car through the high-speed corners.”
“There are a few spots [to overtake]. On the straights and through the high-speed corners, you have an opportunity if your car is much better balanced than the car in front of you. After turn three or turn four, there’s the long section after the slow-speed corners, and that’s a good opportunity as well. But the thing about Silverstone is really the difference between a well-balanced car and an unbalanced car, that’s where the opportunity lies.”
Lewis Hamilton’s victory at the Austrian GP reduced Nico Rosberg’s lead in the standings to only 11 points. Even if the two team mates didn’t secure a Mercedes a 1-2 finish, the constructor increased its advantage over Ferrari to 103 points.
There are five British GP winners on the grid this year - Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen - and the Briton is the most successful one having 3 wins, including the last two events. The most experienced driver is Jenson Button, who took part in 16 races at Silverstone but is yet to finish on the podium in front of his home crowd.
The summer weather in Britain has been quite unpredictable and this will add some unknown to the strategies that teams will prepare for this weekend. Weather forecast shows a high of 21°C and a low of 14°C.
DRS: Zone 1 - Wellington Straight, Zone 2 - Hangar Straight
Driver Steward: Nigel Mansell
Press conference schedule:
Thursday - Jenson Button (McLaren), Valtteri Bottas (Williams), Romain Grosjean (Haas), Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Jolyon Palmer (Renault), Pascal Wehrlein (Manor)
Friday - Maurizio Arrivabene (Ferrari), Eric Boullier (McLaren), Vijay Mallya (Force India), Dave Ryan (Manor), Claire Williams (Williams), Toto Wolff (Mercedes)
Facts and stats
Circuit length: 5.891 km
Race laps: 52 laps
First Grand Prix: 1950
Lap record: 1:33.401 (Mark Webber, 2013)
Most wins (driver): Alain Prost (5)
Most wins (constructor): Ferrari (16)
2015 Qualifying: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2015 Race: 1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 2. Nico Rosberg, 3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
Timetable (GMT +1):
Friday 8 July
Practice One: 10:00 – 11:30
Practice Two: 14:00 – 15:30
Saturday 9 July
Practice Three: 10:00 – 11:00
Qualifying: 13:00 (60 minutes)
Sunday 10 July
Race: 13:00 (52 laps or two hours)