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 first noteworthy rain is expected to arrive from the south-west in the early hours of Friday morning and potentially last until around the start of the first practice session. There should be no further rain on Friday, giving the teams a chance to do some more productive work during the second practice session. The sun may even break through later in the day.
Saturday’s conditions look set to be the most challenging so far as a more significant shower will arrive from the same direction and potentially affect both final practice and qualifying. However warm air from the south should keep temperatures reasonably warm and help dry the track out.
On Sunday the temperatures will again push towards 20C but at present it is expected to stay dry for the race.
Silverstone comes straight off the back of Austria but the two events could not be more different: after selecting the softest tyres in the P Zero range for Austria, the hardest tyres in the line-up have been chosen for Silverstone (with only the soft being nominated for both, which is present at every race this season). It's only the second time this year that the hardest tyres have been selected - after Spain - and this is due to the high-energy, high-speed demands of the British circuit, which features fast straights and rapid changes of direction.
Orange hard: not seen so often this year but likely to be used at some point in Silverstone.
White medium: will be a popular race tyre and is one of the mandatory sets, along with hard.
Yellow soft: seen at every GP year, the softest tyre available in Silverstone is the most popular choice among the teams in terms of quantities chosen.
There are two DRS zones, the detection point of the first is 25m before T3 (Village), with the activation point 30m after T5. The second detection point is at T10 (Maggotts) with the activation point 55m after T14 (Chapel).
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.)
The current Silverstone layout is a huge challenge for teams and drivers, with the fastest corner combination of any F1 circuit. It is a strange one for the hybrid systems as the track is the lightest of the season on braking, but with 70% of the lap at full throttle, it’s hugely demanding on hybrid Energy Recovery, which harvests braking energy. So you have the demand on the energy but not enough opportunities to harvest the energy in braking. A very efficient system is essential to be competitive.
The internal war within Mercedes will still be raging into the British Grand Prix weekend, possibly with ramifications for the battle at the front. If the two drivers find themselves anywhere close together in the dying moments on Sunday, there will be a lot of gritted teeth on the pit wall.
Legend Murray Walker says:
“I suspect that deep down in his heart he may realise that Hamilton is actually a bit better than he is, in my opinion. There’s very little in it, very little, but when push comes to shove, put Hamilton in the same car as Rosberg and I think he will win.”
I agree with Murray. Rosberg knows that and is under pressure all the time. Just what is needed for the Hammer to smash him into oblivion.
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