British Grand Prix Preview

Formula One makes its yearly return to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix this weekend. Silverstone is the home of motor racing in Britain, but will always have its place in the history books of F1 as this is where it all began back in 1950.

Back in 1950, Silverstone held the first ever Formula One championship race and over the subsequent 64 years it has been the primary home for the British round of the Formula One championship. Other homes for the race have been Aintree, which held the race every other year during 1955 to 1960 before being the permanent home for the following two years. From that point on, Brands Hatch become the next track to alternate with Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. These two shared the race for a 23 year period, starting in 1963 and ending in 1986. Since then the race has been held at Silverstone and has proved to be a fan favourite for many years. And will continue to be on the F1 calendar for many years to come with its current contract expiring in 2027.

This could all have been different, as back in 2009 the contract for the British Grand Prix was handed to Donington Park. They had agreed a 10-year deal to host the race at Donington, however after the track failed to secure the necessary funding, Formula One agreed the new deal with Silverstone.

Now a fortnight on from the Austrian Grand Prix, F1 is not just returning to the track where it all started 64 years ago. But it is also the home race for eight of the teams. Force India are the closest team to the Silverstone track with their headquarters just over the road from the track. But for the rest of the eight teams, they are all within a 80-minuets drive of the track in what is nicknamed Motorsport Valley. The other seven teams who live in Motorsport Valley are the current constructors champions Red Bull, as well as McLaren, Mercedes, Williams, Lotus, Caterham and Marussia.

Given the close battle in the drivers championship between the two Mercedes drivers, Lewis Hamilton must be hoping that his home crowd will be able to give him the added boost to out perform Nico Rosberg. At last years British Grand Prix, it was all looking good for Lewis to take the win at his home grand prix after taking pole position on the Saturday. But come race day, the glory of winning your home race soon evaded Lewis on lap 8 after his Pirelli tyre exploded causing him to hand over the lead of the race.

Exploding tyres soon became the theme of the 2013 British Grand Prix, sparking safety concerns with the tyre supplier. Thankfully, a change in compound after the race has seen no repeat of the scenes that unfolded.

A track guide to the Silverstone International Grand Prix circuit - Image from Formula1.com

The current track layout was first used in 2010 after the new agreement was made. The changes to the track saw the addition of the village complex leading onto the Wellington straight. Before this, the track would have turned left at the current turn one, heading into a short segment of track, ending at Luffield.

The Maggotts, Becketts complex is one of the most demanding parts of any circuit on the Formula One calendar. Here, the drivers face a fast sweeping couple of turns, that really show a car with good downforce as they can stay on the throttle for longer and attack the corners with more aggression.

Other demanding corners for the drivers will be turn one and nine. Turn one (or Abbey) should be a great spectacle at the start of the race as the drivers attack the right hander off the line before sweeping into the newest parts of the track. As for turn nine (or Copse), this is another challenging corner as drivers try to carry as much speed through the old turn one as possible, breaking late and sweeping in as close to the barrier as possible.

After the track had the new section added in 2010, it also saw a new pit complex built for the 2011 British Grand Prix, dubbed the ‘Silverstone Wing’. Here the track gained a fresh modern pit complex between Club corner and Abbey. For some teams, they will find their pit garage in the shadow of the hill at turn one. The increase in gradient also added a steep pit exit, but the entrance to the pits cuts out the final chicane at Vale and Club.

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For the race this year, Pirelli will be providing the teams with the orange branded ‘hard’ compound tyres along with the white branded ‘medium’ compound tyres as the drivers battle the 5.891 km. track.

Form would suggest the race will be another battle of the Mercedes drivers. As they fight it out for the 25 points, that could push Rosberg further ahead of Hamilton in the championship fight. As it stands Nico has the advantage in the championship over Lewis, add this to Nico winning in Austria two weeks ago and Lewis DNF’ing in Canada, Lewis really needs a win this weekend to begin his fight back.

But with Silverstone’s high average speed, the other Mercedes powered teams could challenge the Silver Arrows, like Williams did back in Austria. This might also give McLaren encouragement after their recent poor performances have been miles behind the scenes at the season opener in Australia.

For viewers in Britain wanting to watch the race live, every session from the weekend will be shown live on both BBC and SkyF1.

For SkyF1 fans, this is their schedule for the weekend:

Thursday 3rd July

15:00 – Drivers’ Press Conference – Live
18:00 – The Grid – Live

Friday 4th July

9:45 – British GP Practice One – Live
12:00 – GP2 Practice – Live
13:45 – British GP Practice Two – Live
15:50 – GP2 Qualifying – Live
17:00 – Team Principals’ Press Conference
18:00 – The F1 Show – Live

Saturday 5th July

8:45 – GP3 Qualifying – Live
9:45 – British GP Practice Three – Live
12:00 – British GP Qualifying – Live
14:35 – GP2 Feature Race – Live
16:15 – GP3 Race One – Live
17:55 – British GP Qualifying replay
20:30 – Ted’s Qualifying Notebook

Sunday 6th July

8:05 – GP3 Race Two – Live
9:15 – GP2 Sprint Race – Live
11:30 – British GP – Track Parade – Live
12:00 – British GP – Race – Live
15:30 – British GP – Paddock Live
18:15 – British GP Highlights
19:00 – Ted’s Race Notebook

For fans of BBC’s F1 coverage, this is their schedule for the weekend:

Friday 4 July

09:55 – Practice One – Live on BBC2 & BBC Radio 5 live sports extra
13:55 – Practice Two – Live on the BBC Red Button & BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

Saturday 5 July

09:55 – Practice Three – Live on BBC2 & BBC Radio 5 live sports extra
12:05 – Qualifying – Live on BBC2 13:00 – Qualifying – Live on BBC Radio 5 live

Sunday 6 July

12:00 – Race – Live on BBC2
12:30 – Race – Live on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra
15:30 – F1 Forum – Live on the BBC Red Button
19:00 – Highlights – BBC3