The Big Preview: British Grand Prix at Silverstone

Round eight of the 2013 FIA Formula 1  World Championship brings the teams and drivers to Britain and Silverstone, one of the few remaining power circuits on the F1 calendar.

Silverstone hosted the first Formula One race, in 1950 and has been a permanent fixture on the calendar since. The circuit has been modified several times, most recently in 2010, but despite the facelifts it has retained its character as a high-speed test of nerve. That much is proved by the fact that seven of its 18 corners are taken at over 250 km/h and that the cars are at full throttle for just over 60 per cent of each lap.

The high-speed corners, swift changes of direction and an abrasive surface do, however, mean that tyres take a beating at Silverstone and to cope with the heavy lateral loads Pirelli is bringing its hard and medium tyres to this weekend’s race.

Silverstone Arena Circuit aerial view

Silverstone Arena Circuit aerial view

Having taken his third victory of the season by a comfortable margin three weeks ago at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, championship leader Sebastian Vettel would appear to be best placed to tackle Silverstone’s demands. However, it’s the German’s Red Bull Racing team-mate, Mark Webber, who has thrived most obviously here in recent years, the Australian racking up wins in 2010 and last year.

However Ferrari cannot be ruled out and 2011 British Grand Prix winner Fernando Alonso will be looking to reduce the current 36-point gap between himself and Vettel at the top of the FIA Drivers’ Championship.

When it comes to outright single-lap pace, however, few will look further than Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Four of the seven pole positions so far this season have gone their way and the Silver Arrows look primed to add a fifth here. Vettel, who has the other three poles to his credit, might have other ideas.

Mark Webber won the 2012 British GP

Mark Webber won the 2012 British GP

Silverstone Circuit Data

  • Length of lap: 5.891km
  • Lap record: 1:34.661 (Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, 2012)
  • Start line/finish line offset: 0.105 km
  • Total number of race laps: 52
  • Total race distance: 306.198 km
  • Pitlane speed limits: 60 km/h during practice. 100 km/h during qualifying and the race

Changes to the circuit since 2012

  • A number of new drains have been installed in verges around the circuit in order to improve drainage in areas where water has accumulated in the past.
  • The tyre barrier on the driver’s right at the exit of Turn 14 has been extended by 50 metres.

DRS Zone

  • There will be two DRS zones at Silverstone. The activation point of the first is shortly beforeTurn 3 (Village) and the activation point is after Turn 5 (Aintree) on the Wellington Straight. The second zone’s detection point is after Turn 10 (Maggots) and the activation point will be after Turn 14 (Chapel) on the Hangar Straight.
Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton are crowd favourites at Silverstone

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton are crowd favourites at Silverstone

British GP Fast Facts

  • This will be the 64th time that Formula One has staged a British Grand Prix and Silverstone will stage its 47th British GP this year. The race has also been held at Aintree (alternating yearly with Silverstone from 1955 to 1960 and in 1961 and 1962) and at Brands Hatch (alternating with Silverstone from 1963 until 1986).
  • Jim Clark and Alain Prost have the most British GP wins with five apiece. One of Clark’s was scored at Aintree (1962) and one at Brands Hatch (1964). All five of Prost’s were at Silverstone (1983, ’85, ’89, ’90, ’93). Prost’s best finish from attempts at Brands Hatch was third in 1986.
  • In 63 editions the race has been won by a round dozen Britons: Stirling Moss (1955, ’57), Tony Brooks (’57), Peter Collins (’58), Jim Clark (’62-’65 and ’67), Jackie Stewart (’69 and ’71), James Hunt (’77), John Watson (’81), Nigel Mansell (’86, ’87, ’91-’92), Damon Hill (’94), Johnny Herbert(’95), David Coulthard (’99 and 2000) and Lewis Hamilton in 2008.
  • Ferrari is the most successful team at the British Grand Prix with 16 wins. The Scuderia’s first F1 win was claimed at this event, with José Froilan Gonzalez, who died on June 15 this year aged 90. He drove a Ferrari 375 to victory at Silverstone in 1951. The team’s most successful driver in Britain is, unsurprisingly, Michael Schumacher, who claimed all three of his British Grand Prix wins at the wheel of a Ferrari.
  • McLaren – in their 50th anniversary year – are just two wins away from Ferrari’s total, while another British constructor, Williams – at Silverstone celebrating their 600th GP – are third on the list of most successful teams at the event with 10 wins. McLaren’s most recent victory came courtesy of Hamilton in 2008, while Williams have not won here since Jacques Villeneuve stood on the top step in his championship-winning year of 1997.
  • Of the current drivers, the most successful here are Alonso and Mark Webber. Both drivers have two wins to their credit. Alonso won here with Renault in 2006 and with Ferrari in 2011. Both Webber’s victories have been with Red Bull Racing, in 2010 and last year.
  • Jenson Button has more British GPs under his belt than any other driver on the grid, with 13. Despite the total he’s never appeared on the F1 podium here. The closest he’s come was fourth place in 2004 for BAR and in 2010 for McLaren. His last Silverstone podium appearance was in 1999 when he won round 15 of the British F3 championship.
  • Pole position isn’t of great benefit. The race has been won from the front of the grid just three times since the turn of the century (Rubens Barrichello ’03, Alonso in ’06 and Sebastian Vettel in ’09).
  • It certainly doesn’t hurt to be at the sharp end of the grid however. Since 2000 every winner has started from fourth or better. The last time the race was won from further back was in 1995 when Johnny Herbert started fifth. The race has never been won by anyone starting outside the top 10.
When it rains at Silverstone... it pours!

When it rains at Silverstone… it pours!

Race Stewards Biographies

  • Swede Lars Österlind is a highly experienced FIA steward who has officiated at more than 100 grands prix and a similar number of World Rally Championship rounds. A social sciences graduate and lifelong motor sport enthusiast, Österlind was President of the Swedish Rally Commission from 1978-1982, then President of the Swedish Automobile Sport Federation from 1982-1996. He became Honorary President in 1996 and has been a member of the FIA World Council since 1984. Outside motor sport Österlind has specialised in management, working as a consultant and pursuing his own business interests. He is also experienced in local government at city council level.
  • Paolo Longoni is a steward with more than 20 years’ experience. Milanese Longoni began his stewards’ training at his home circuit – Monza – in 1990 and was immediately ‘bitten by the bug’ of motor sport. While his early stewarding experience was based largely at Monza, since 2006 Longoni has been a national steward, officiating at rounds of the Porsche Supercup, Ferrari Challenge Championship, FIA Historic Championship, ETCC, WTCC, Formula Two and Le Mans Series events.
  • For the fourth year in succession, Nigel Mansell is the FIA driver steward at the British GP. From 187 grand prix starts Mansell took 32 pole positions, 31 victories and 28 other podium finishes. He raced for Team Lotus, Williams, Ferrari and McLaren, winning the FIA F1 World Champion in 1992 with Williams. The following season Mansell took a sabbatical from F1, racing in the CART championship. He become the first rookie to win that title and the only man to hold the F1 and CART titles simultaneously. Mansell is a four-times winner of the British Grand Prix, with three of those victories at Silverstone. (FIA)