The British Grand Prix has been at the heart of Formula 1 since its very beginning in 1950, featuring on the calendar ever since. The event is also the home race for most of the teams, making it a extra special event.
Silverstone has been the race’s permanent home since 1987, the track’s intoxicating mix of fast corners making it a firm favourite with drivers and teams alike.
The weekend is set to become epic, especially for Jenson Button as fans are set to pay tribute to John Button, Jenson's father who passed away. It will be interesting to see the grandstands as people wear pink shirts to remember John. Button will suitably also drive during this weekend with a properly adapted pink helmet.
Another point worth mentioning will be the debut of Susie Wolff as she will take part in first practice for Williams F1. Susie already ran tests for the team but this weekend marks her first outing during an official championship event.
Silverstone stages its 50th British Grand Prix this weekend. Since the first (pre-world championship) race in 1948, the track has had numerous facelifts – most recently in 2010 – but it’s retained its high-speed character throughout.
With an average speed of 225km/h (140mph), Silverstone is one of the fastest circuits on the F1 calendar. Only one of its 18 corners is taken at less than 100km/h (62mph); the remainder are all medium- or high-speed challenges, with the renowned Copse-Maggotts-Becketts sequence located in the middle sector. Through these six corners a car’s minimum speed doesn’t drop below 215km/h (134mph) and the drivers battle with lateral forces of up to 5g.
The high speed and flowing nature of the track makes high-speed stability for the cars essential, sometimes difficult to realise due to the often windy weather conditions around the former World War II airfield.
An added complication for the engineers is the track surface. It’s relatively bumpy and there are several different surfaces around the lap, owing to the number of facelifts that Silverstone has had over the years. To cope with the loads generated through fast corners, Pirelli are taking their two hardest tyres to the race, the Medium (Option) and the Hard (Prime) compounds.
While low speed traction will be less critical than at Austria or Canada, top end power of the engines will still play a major role in the event. Over the years Silverstonet has become known as a power track and this year will be no different with the hybrid units. In fact the high torque, low downforce cars should produce even quicker speeds than we have seen in previous years.
The front aero of the car is critical at Silverstone . The E22’s unique twin-tusk layout has so far shown good efficiency on high speed tracks and with the open central section getting the airflow to the centre of the car more efficiently, thus providing more grip on direction change through the fast elements of Becketts/Maggotts and also Farm/Abbey.
Silverstone is the ultimate challenge for the engineers and explicitly the aerodynamicists.The Becketts/Maggotts series of corners is a major challenge where downforce is king to maintain speed through the turns and enabling change of direction. Efficiency is critical here.
A stable car through the complexes of Brooklands/Luffield and Vale/Club is important but Silverstone is generally low-maintenance when it comes to vehicle dynamics.
In stark contrast to Montréal and Austria brakes should not be a big concern at Silverstone. The biggest areas of braking and therefore good overtaking opportunities are in to Brooklands after the Wellington straight and in to Stowe after the Hangar Straight. Both these corners though are fast enough not to create significant wear on the pads or discs.
With high energy loading on the Pirelli tyres the two hardest compunds have been selected for Silverstone (medium as the option tyre and hard as the prime tyre). This was the same choice as at Sepang and Barcelona which both have similar traits to the Northamptonshire track – fast and medium speed turns.
Silverstone has always been a power track and this year we should see even quicker speeds from the high torque, low downforce cars. From Luffield to Stowe the ICE, turbo and MGU-H will be flat out for a total of almost 40secs with enormous pressures going through the internals through the high speed turns of Maggots and Becketts. The new complex will give sufficient opportunity for the MGU-K to recover energy through braking and recharge the battery but fuel consumption will still be high. With this in mind, the effect of the turbo will be rather small as they are little to no hard accelerations from low speeds.
Race distance: 52 laps (306.198km/190.263 miles)
Start time: 13:00 (local)/12:00 (GMT)
Circuit length: 5.891km/3.660 miles
Number of corners: 18 (8 left,10 right)
Distance from pole to Turn 1 apex: 420 m
Braking events: 6 (2 heavy)
Pit lane length under speed limit control: 460 m (longest of the season)
Pit lane time at 80 km/h: 20.7 s
Tyre energy: medium
Brake energy: low
Fuel consumption: medium. There’s a high average speed at Silverstone, but it’s not too demanding on fuel consumption because there are few hard accelerations from low speed
Track abrasiveness: Medium. However, the track surface isn’t homogenous due to the various resurfacing projects carried out in recent years