Formula 1 returns ‘home’ this week to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix, one of the highlights on the calendar. The presence of World Champions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button on the grid is a huge boon to a perennially-popular event, which has grown rapidly in recent years. Organisers are expecting a capacity crowd this weekend as the 2015 season reaches its halfway mark.
The British Grand Prix has been a mainstay on the Formula 1 calendar since 1950, when the circuit hosted the first ever event in the World Championship. Aintree and Brands Hatch have also hosted the historic race but since 1987 it has been held at Silverstone, which has been transformed over the years.
Whereas once it was a barren airfield with just hay bales to mark out the circuit, the layout evolved over the years with the fearsomely quick circuit gradually modified, with the most recent major alteration coming in 2011, when the Wing complex opened and the start/finish line was moved, making Abbey the first corner. This came off the back of modifications in 2010, when an infield complex was added, creating Village, The Loop and the Wellington Straight, bypassing Bridge and Priory. The circuit layout from those days remains visible, but the area has since been turned into a fan zone.
Silverstone places an emphasis on aerodynamic strength and handling courtesy of corners such as Abbey, Copse and the Maggotts/Becketts complex, while the straights mean that the power unit still receives a workout.
The 5.8km circuit remains one of the fastest on the calendar and is a favourite among fans and drivers, with many of the teams also based in nearby towns and villages.
“Driving the Silverstone circuit is always immense fun for all the drivers, and it’s definitely one of my favourite racetracks,” said Jenson Button.
“The combination of Maggotts-Becketts has legendary status for good reason, and it’s one of the most exhilarating corner combinations of any circuit on the Formula 1 calendar.”
Home favourite Hamilton heads into Silverstone searching for a third British Grand Prix win following his triumphs in 2008 and 2014.
His likely challenger is Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, who scored a podium in 2010 before climbing onto the top step three years later, in a race where punctures affected several drivers. Rosberg’s victory in Austria cut the gap in the standings to 10 points, the closest margin between the Mercedes drivers since Australia.
Other British Grand Prix victors in the field are Fernando Alonso – who won in 2006 and 2010 – while Sebastian Vettel was successful for Red Bull back in 2009.
After three weekends with the softest compounds, Pirelli now moves to the other end of the spectrum, with the Medium (white-banded) and Hard (orange-banded) tyres set to be used this weekend.
The DRS zones will be on the Hangar Straight and on the Wellington Straight.
1992 World Champion Nigel Mansell will act as the driver steward.
Timetable (GMT +1):
Friday 19 June
- Practice One: 10:00 – 11:30
- Practice Two: 14:00 – 15:30
Saturday 20 June
- Practice Three: 10:00 – 11:00
- Qualifying: 13:00 (60 minutes)
Sunday 21 June
- Race: 13:00 (70 laps or two hours)