Spurred on by the World Championship points collected in Turkey, the BMW Sauber F1 Team is working tirelessly on further improvements to the F1.09. The British Grand Prix at Silverstone offers another opportunity for the recently debuted double-decker diffuser to prove its mettle, along with a series of other upgrades.
The ingredients which make up the special atmosphere at the British Grand Prix read like a template for motor sport: a challenging track layout, renowned high-speed corners, frequently unpredictable weather and, above all, enthusiastic fans. This is racing at its purest. The large number of medium and high-speed corners at Silverstone place a premium on downforce and aerodynamic balance.
Many will travel to Silverstone this year with tears in their eyes; for 2010 there is no Formula One race planned at the time-honoured Northamptonshire circuit. Instead the British Grand Prix is supposed to move to Donington Park.
Robert Kubica: “I always like to go racing at Silverstone. The British fans are amazing. It is a historic motor sport place and you can always feel the special racing atmosphere there. Usually the weather is quite unpredictable at Silverstone. Wind plays an important role. Especially in the high-speed corners it can have a big effect on the car’s behaviour. From a driver’s perspective the circuit is quite challenging. The first sector is very fast and has a couple of real high-speed corners. I think Silverstone might be a track that suits our car.”
Nick Heidfeld: “I’ve always really liked driving at Silverstone and I’ve been there many times. I first raced at the track in Formula 3000 and then did a lot of kilometres there in my early days as a Formula One test driver. I’ve always enjoyed competing at the circuit but, despite the number of laps I’ve covered there, for some reason it has never been one of my showcase tracks, unlike Budapest or Suzuka. Last year’s race in Silverstone was great. In the middle of all the chaos caused by the weather we opted for the right tyres, and I was able to pull off several good overtaking manoeuvres and finish second.
“The whole opening section at Silverstone is fantastic – very fast and unmistakable. I would be really disappointed if Silverstone did end up being taken off the calendar. I’ve never found the circuit outdated – traditional yes, but not antiquated. In addition to the wonderful corners at the track, the very special atmosphere generated by the fans would be a big loss.”
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: “Going into the British Grand Prix we are well aware that we still have a serious amount of work to do. However, we can now build on our performance in Istanbul. We fitted a double-decker diffuser for the first time in Turkey and the effect was clear. Our car was fast enough to score points thanks to our own performance. Of course, nobody within the team is satisfied with the result, but we will use it as a platform to put the next steps into action. We have increased our speed of development and will arrive at Silverstone with another package of new components. From now on we will introduce significant improvements to the car at two to three-race intervals, and these will include further development stages of the double-decker diffuser. We are a long way away from writing off the 2009 season.”
Willy Rampf, Head of Engineering: “To be quick at Silverstone you need to have a car with a lot of downforce, but above all one with very good balance. The track is characterised by its many medium and high-speed corners, and it is critical that the drivers carry a lot of speed out of them. Maggots-Becketts-Chapel is one of the best and most challenging combinations on the Formula One calendar. The track surface is pretty rough, which means that tyres come in for a good deal of punishment. Bridgestone is bringing the same two compounds to Silverstone which did such a good job in Istanbul. We used the double-decker diffuser for the first time in Turkey and took a step forward as a result. This was certainly pleasing, but we are still far from satisfied with the situation. Our intention is to introduce improvements to the car at short intervals. We will be running a further developed front wing at Silverstone with the aim of improving the balance of the car. I am confident we can continue our upward trend.”