Silverstone is one of the oldest races on the calendar and started life as an airfield. The end of Second World War left Britain with no major race track. An ex-farmer, James Wilson Brown, was employed by the RAC and given just two months to turn the site from a wartime airfield and farm into a race track for the first RAC International Grand Prix.
On the 2nd October 1948, an estimated 100,000 people flocked to see Luigi Villoresi drive from the back of the grid to beat a field of 22 others in his Maserati with a top speed of 72.2mph. Silverstone racing history had begun. From the 50 races held here at the circuit, Alain Prost holds the record for most wins at the circuit in 1983, 1985, 1989, 1990 and 1993. Nigel Mansell is only just behind Alain with 4 wins in 1986, 1987, 1991 and 1992.
Silverstone has the fastest corner combinations on the F1 calendar and is loved by the drivers, but it can be a real headache for the engineers and strategists, as it shows up aerodynamic instabilities and it can be very difficult to get a good reading on the tyres, especially as there is usually some rain during the practice sessions.
Race distance : 52 laps (306.198 kilometres).
Corners : 18 corners in total. A high speed circuit based on an old WWII airfield. Lots of high-speed corners, aerodynamically challenging, very easy on brakes.
Aerodynamic setup : Med/High downforce.
Top speed : 311km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 301km/h without.
Full throttle : 66% of the lap (medium).
Fuel consumption : High.
Time spent braking : 9% of lap (very low). 9 braking zones.
Brake wear : Low.
Total time needed for pit stop : 25 seconds.
The weather in England, even in summer, is notoriously hard to predict. Something of a heatwave is currently hitting Britain, with temperatures soaring to 36.7ºC (98ºF) at Heathrow Airport on Wednesday, making it the hottest July day ever. Although temperatures have cooled a little at Silverstone on Thursday, the heat is expected to return for the three days of on-track running.
The P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White medium tyres have been selected for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone: a fast and flowing circuit that takes a lot out of the tyres, especially during the many high-speed corners. This results in plenty of wear and degradation, especially if ambient temperatures are high - which is expected to be the case this year. As well as being one of the quickest and most historic venues on the Formula One calendar, Silverstone is also something of a home race for Pirelli: the Italian firm's Formula One logistics hub and centre of engineering excellence is located in Didcot, less than an hour away by car.
There will be two DRS zones at Silverstone. The detection point of the first is 25m before Turn Three, with the activation point 30m after Turn Five. The second detection point is at Turn 11 with the activation point 55m after Turn 14.
Because the new pit lane at Silverstone is quite long, a stop is relatively slow by F1 standards at 25 seconds total pit lane time. This encourages teams to do less, rather than more stops.
Silverstone is a fast, open circuit with lots of run off areas. So for marshals it’s relatively safe to recover a broken car. The chances of a safety car are therefore quite low – 57%, with 0.6 safety cars per race.
BRITISH GP FAST FACTS
► The British Grand Prix is one of two ever-present races on the Formula One World Championship calendar. The other race featuring every year since 1950 is the Italian Grand Prix.
► Three venues have hosted the British Grand Prix during the World Championship era. Silverstone shared the early races with Aintree, which held races in 1955, ’57, ’59 and 1961-2. Aintree was replaced by Brands Hatch, which held the British Grand Prix in even years between 1964-1986. Silverstone has hosted all of the other races.
► 2014 marks the 48th running of the Formula One World Championship British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The circuit, however, is celebrating it’s 50th race, having hosted pre-World Championship grands prix in 1948 and 1949. Both of those races were won by Maserati, courtesy of drivers Luigi Villoresi and Baron Emmanuel ‘Toulo’ de Graffenried respectively. Giuseppe ‘Nino’ Farina won the inaugural world championship race in 1950. Before Silverstone, a British Grand Prix was held at the Brooklands circuit in 1926 and 1927.
► Silverstone is situated in an area known as ‘Motorsport Valley’. Eight of the 11 F1 teams are clustered within 125km of the track. In order of distance they are McLaren (125km), Williams (65km), Caterham (59km), Lotus (40km), Red Bull (33km), Marussia (24km) and Mercedes (13km), with Force India based a few hundred metres from the front gates of the circuit. Additionally, Mercedes High Performance Powertrains’ manufacturing facility is based 33km from the circuit and Toro Rosso’s wind tunnel is located 23km away.
► Jim Clark (1962, ’63, ’64, ’65, ’67) and Alain Prost (1983, ’85, ’89, ’90, ’93) share top billing at the British Grand Prix with five victories each. One behind them is this weekend’s driver steward Nigel Mansell who won in 1986, ’87, ’91 and ’92. Mansell did, however claim five victories on home soil, winning the 1985 European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch a year before winning the British Grand Prix at the same circuit. Mansell is one of only two drivers to have won differently titled grands prix at the same circuit (Nelson Piquet won the 1980 Italian and 1981 San Marino Grands Prix at Imola.)
Silverstone is well known for its succession of fast and sweeping corners, which load the tyres with sustained forces that peak at 5g. The teams use high levels of downforce, meaning that there are often big vertical as well as lateral forces acting on the tyres at the same time. The straights and braking areas are reasonably short, allowing the teams to run a lot of aero without too much time loss.
Last year's strategy and how the race was won: Lewis Hamilton won the 52-lap race for Mercedes, with a two-stop strategy. He started on the medium tyre, stopping for the hard compound on lap 24 and hard compound again on lap 41. The race was affected by an early red flag, which meant a re-start with drivers allowed to change tyres on the grid. This had a profound effect on strategy: seven drivers in the top 10 were able to stop just once.
This year with the super hot weather could see some high tyre wear which should lead to a more exciting race to watch. And Lewis Hamilton coming off a bad weekend in Austria to his home race should put some fire up Rosberg's ass as well.
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