The Big Preview: British Grand Prix

Die-hard Formula 1 fans will be out in forcxe at Silverstone

Die-hard Formula 1 fans will be out in force at Silverstone

Round nine of the 2014 FIA Formula One World Championship sees the majority of teams faced with a short trip to their local race – the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Silverstone sets a different challenge to the circuits that have seen action so far this season, its defining characteristic being high-speed changes of direction that will severely test 2014’s reduced downforce specification.

There is more, however, to the modern Silverstone than just its fast corners. The Arena layout, introduced in 2010, has subtly changed the nature of the circuit. Drivers were slow to appreciate the changes but today the infield section has acquired many fans, with the variety of lines through Turns Three and Four creating more overtaking opportunities leading into the first DRS zone on the Wellington Straight.

After three races in a row with the Soft and Super-soft compounds, Pirelli this weekend have gone to the other end of the scale with the Hard and Medium tyres as the succession of medium and high-speed corners puts huge amounts of energy through the rubber. Something else to factor in when considering those corners is the fact that Silverstone is not especially demanding on the brakes. With drivers braking for only around eight per cent of the long lap, recovering the maximum allowed amount of energy through the MGU-K every lap will prove difficult, as was the case with KERS.

Mercedes have pulled a long way clear in the Constructors’ Championship but a battle royal rages between drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Rosberg leads by 29 points but, with 11 races to go, Hamilton is far from an underdog. He has four victories to Rosberg’s three and has been unfortunate to suffer both of Mercedes’ DNF’s this season. The Briton will be highly motivated to begin closing the gap at his home race.

Top three on the podium after the 2013 British Grand Prix

Top three on the podium after the 2013 British Grand Prix

Silverstone Circuit Data

  • Length of lap 5.891 km.
  • Lap record 1:33.401 (Mark Webber, Red Bull Racing, 2013).
  • Start line/finish line offset 134 m.
  • Total number of race laps 52
  • Total race distance 306.198 km
  • Pitlane speed limits 80km/h in Practice, Qualifying and Race
  • Artificial grass has been removed from the exits of Turns Five, Eight and Nine.
  • The wall to the driver’s left before Turn Six has been extended.
  • Drainage has been improved in a number of places around the circuit..
  • There will be two DRS zones at Silverstone. The detection point of the first is 25 m before Turn Three, with the activation point 30 m after Turn Five. The second detection point is at Turn 11 with the activation point 55 m after Turn 14.
Giuseppe Farina won the 1950 British Grand Prix driving an Alfa Romeo 158/50

Giuseppe Farina won the 1950 British Grand Prix driving an Alfa Romeo 158/50

British Grand Prix 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 125 km of the track. In order of distance they are McLaren (125 km), Williams (65 km), Caterham (59 km), Lotus (40 km), Red Bull (33 km), Marussia (24 km) and Mercedes (13 km), with Force India based a few hundred metres from the front gates of the circuit. Additionally, Mercedes High Performance Powertrains’ manufacturing facility is based 33 km from the circuit and Toro Rosso’s wind tunnel is located 23 km away.
  • Mercedes have dominated 2014 with seven victories and seven poles from the eight races so far. Neither driver, however, has shown dominant form at Silverstone in the past. In Nico Rosberg’s eight races he has been out qualified by his various team-mates five times. Lewis Hamilton has been out qualified by his team-mates three times in seven attempts. As team-mates in 2013 Mercedes locked out the front row with Hamilton on pole – but Rosberg won the race after Hamilton suffered a tyre failure. 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.)
  • Austria marked Mercedes’ sixth one-two finish of the eight races so far this season. McLaren hold the record with 10, set in 1988 by Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.
Silverstone has been the scene of some of the Formula 1's most memorable moments

Silverstone has been the scene of some of the Formula 1’s most memorable moments

British Grand Prix Race Stewards

  • Dr Gerd Ennser has successfully combined his formal education in law with his passion for motor racing. While still active as a racing driver he began helping out with the management of his local motor sport club and since 2006 has been a permanent steward at every round of Germany’s DTM championship. Since 2010 he has also been a Formula One steward. Dr Ennser, who has worked as a judge, a prosecutor, and in the legal department of an automotive-industry company, has also acted as a member of the steering committee of German motor sport body, the DMSB, since spring 2010, where he is responsible for automobile sport. In addition, Dr Ennser is a board member of the South Bavaria Section of ADAC, Germany’s biggest auto club.
  • As the son of former McLaren Team Principal Teddy Mayer, Tim Mayer grew up around motor sport. He organised IndyCar races internationally from 1992-98, aided the construction of several circuits, and produced international TV for multiple series. In 1998 he became CART’s Senior VP for Racing Operations. He also became VP of ACCUS, the US ASN. In 2003, Mayer became COO of IMSA, operating multiple series at all levels, and also took on the role of COO and Race Director of the American Le Mans Series. He was elected an independent Director of ACCUS and FIA US Alternate Delegate, responsible for US World Championship events.
  • 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 Formula One 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 Formula One and CART titles simultaneously. Mansell is a four-time winner of the British Grand Prix, with three of those victories coming at Silverstone.
Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are local heroes

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are local heroes

Reuters British Grand Prix Facts & Stats

  • Mercedes have won all but one race so far this season. The exception was Canada, won by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.
  • Red Bull’s quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel has 39 career wins, Fernando Alonso 32, Lewis Hamilton 26, Kimi Raikkonen 20 and Jenson Button 15. Championship leader Nico Rosberg has six.
  • Rosberg’s win in Austria meant his career tally of wins now exceeds that of his father Keke, the 1982 champion.
  • Ferrari have won 221 races, McLaren 182, Williams 114 and Red Bull 47.
  • McLaren have not won for 27 races, a run that dates back to Brazil 2012.
  • Ferrari’s last victory was in Spain in May 2013 – the last time a team other than Mercedes or Red Bull won.
  • Brazilian Felipe Massa’s pole for Williams in Austria ended Mercedes’ run of seven in a row. It was also the first time since Brazil in November 2012 that a team other than Mercedes or Red Bull had started on pole.
  • Hamilton (Australia / Malaysia / China / Spain) and Rosberg (Bahrain / Monaco / Canada) had previously started every race on pole.
  • Vettel took nine poles last year, and now has 45 for his F1 career.
  • Hamilton now has 35 poles, more than any other British driver in the history of Formula One.
  • Ferrari’s last pole position was in Germany with Fernando Alonso in 2012.
  • Caterham, who came into the sport in 2010, are the only team on the grid who have yet to score a point.
  • Ferrari have finished a record 75 successive races with at least one car in the points, a run that dates back to the 2010 German Grand Prix.
  • Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat is Formula One’s youngest point scorer aged 19 years and 324 days.
  • Silverstone hosted the first race in the Formula One World Championship in 1950, two years after putting on a grand prix for the first time.
  • Pole has not been a significant advantage, historically. Only four times in the last 19 races has the quickest driver in Qualifying gone on to win, but every winner has started from fourth or higher since 2000.
  • The race has never been won by anyone starting outside the top 10.
  • The last British winner was Hamilton in 2008.
  • McLaren’s Jenson Button, the most experienced driver on the starting grid, has never stood on the podium at his home race.
  • Ferrari have won 16 times in Britain, McLaren 14 and Williams 10.
  • Five current drivers have won at Silverstone: Rosberg, Hamilton, Alonso (twice), Vettel and Raikkonen.
  • Massa will be starting his 200th grand prix.
  • Ricciardo turned 25 on Tuesday, July 1.
  • Silverstone is celebrating its 50th Grand Prix this weekend (but 48th in the world championship)
Fans at the 2013 British Grand Prix

Fans at the 2013 British Grand Prix

FIA press conference schedule

Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, fresh from his breakthrough Formula One podium in Austria, will be among the six drivers who will take part in the official FIA press conference at Silverstone on Thursday. The British trio of McLaren’s Jenson Button, Marussia’s Max Chilton and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton – a winner on home soil in 2008 – will also be present.

On Friday it is the turn of senior personnel – including Red Bull’s Adrian Newey and Gerry Hughes of Caterham – to answer questions from the press. The line-ups in full…

  • Thursday, July 3, 1500 hours local time (1400 GMT)
    Valtteri Bottas (Williams), Jenson Button (McLaren), Max Chilton (Marussia), Lewis Hamiton (Mercedes), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso), Felipe Massa (Williams)
  • Friday, July 4, 1600 hours local time (1500 GMT)
    Gerry Hughes (Caterham), James Key (Toro Rosso), Jonathan Neale (McLaren), Adrian Newey (Red Bull), Pat Symonds (Williams), Rob White (Renault Sport)

The Qualifying and post-race press conferences with the top three drivers will take place immediately after the respective sessions. (FIA-Reuters)