It’s almost the halfway point of the 2014 Formula 1 season and that means it’s time for the sport to roll into its ‘home race’ – the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The first ever Formula 1 race was held at the former airfield in 1950 while eight of the 11 teams are based within a 90 mile radius. This year is Silverstone’s 50th Formula 1 race and as a result there will be a series of celebratory parades featuring Grand Prix legends and historic cars. In the modern era Nico Rosberg heads to Lewis Hamilton’s home race with a 29 point advantage over his Mercedes team-mate. Last season it was Hamilton who stormed to pole position but a puncture in the race scuppered his chances and Rosberg collected the spoils.
Everyone’s gradually getting used to the enormous Wing complex and different start/finish line, which leads into Abbey and Farm as the first two corners. Abbey is a fast right hander which immediately leads into the rapid left at Farm. Village is the first proper braking zone of the circuit and it’s a corner which will exploit cars struggling in that particular area. The Loop is a tricky section and good traction will be vital on the exit for the long run down the Wellington Straight, which is where the first DRS zone is located.
The braking point into Brooklands provides drivers with one of the best overtaking chances of the lap while Luffield follows straight after and leads the drivers onto the old start/finish line. Copse remains a fearsome corner although with sufficient run-off, the challenge is somewhat reduced compared to previous events. The legendary Maggotts/Becketts/Chapel complex will punish any car with a lack of downforce while the Hangar Straight contains the second DRS zone of the lap, before the quick right hander of Stowe. If a driver can follow a rival through Stowe then he has a good chance of making a move into the slow left hander at Vale, which leads into the long acceleration zone of Club. The previously long right hander has had a kink on the exit since the 2010 circuit overhaul and in the wet it’ll be a turn to catch out several drivers.
Overall Silverstone is a high-downforce circuit which will suit teams with a balanced car – although everyone has to be wary of the likelihood of strong winds which regularly change direction. There are also a couple of long straights which will naturally suit the Mercedes-powered teams.
Pirelli will bring the Medium and Hard compound tyres in order to deal with the high energy load being put through them through the fast corners. But with the weather forecast looking sketchy, expect the Intermediates and Wets to be used at some point as well.
Several reserve drivers will be getting a chance to shine in first practice, including Williams's Susie Wolff, who will become the first female driver to participate in an official session in over two decades. Force India's Daniel Juncadella will also make his Grand Prix weekend debut, while Dutch duo Giedo van der Garde and Robin Frijns will test for Sauber and Caterham respectively.
Silverstone is one of the best attended races of the entire season and 2014 marks the 50th Formula 1 race at the circuit. There will be extra entertainment – including a performance by the Kaiser Chiefs on Thursday – but it’s the historic action which will be centre of attention. There will be a display of historic cars available for viewing for fans with Centre North access.
But the cars won’t remain static for the weekend as some will be demonstrated by a host of Formula 1 legends:
- Nigel Mansell (car TBC)
- Emerson Fittpaldi – McLaren M23
- Sir Jackie Stewart – Matra MS80
- Alain Prost and David Coulthard – Red Bull RB8
- Damon Hill – Lotus 49B
- Johnny Herbert – Tyrrell 006
- Rubens Barrichello – Williams FW07
- Jackie Oliver – Lotus 33
- Derek Warwick – McLaren M29C
- Martin Brundle – McLaren M26
- David Brabham – Cooper Climax T53
- Dario Franchitti – Lotus 25
- Adrian Newey – March 711
- Paul Stewart – Tyrrell 006
Friday 4 July
- Practice One: 10:00 – 11:30
- Practice Two: 14:00 – 15:30
Saturday 5 July
- Practice Three: 10:00 – 11:00
- Qualifying: 13:00
Sunday 6 July
- Race: 13:00 (52 laps or two hours)