British Grand Prix – Preview

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Great-Britain, Silverstone Circuitgb

After an exciting and thrilling race in Austria, Formula One will be back in action this weekend with Round 10, the British Grand Prix. After Mercedes had been controlling the first part of the season, Red Bull brought an end to this domination at the Austrian Grand Prix. The question is whether the sport’s current third leading team Ferrari can end its 12-race-long winless drought on Sunday.

This weekend’s British Grand Prix will be the seventies running of the British Grand Prix. Its position inside the history of motorsport is unquestionable as it marked the birth of the Formula One World Championship by hosting the first ever round of the newly-formed series.

The mecca of motorsport

The world’s first ever purpose-built motor racing track was built in Brooklands in 1907, located just outside the British capital of London. This circuit played host to the first British GP in 1926, a motorsport event established by Henry Segrave and won by the French Louis Wagner. 1927 saw Brooklands hosting the second British Grand Prix which was won again by a French driver named Robert Benoist.

When the Second World War ended in 1945, the legendary Brooklands had fallen into disrepair and so Silverstone was adopted by the Royal Automobile Club as the home for the British Grand Prix in 1948. Silverstone started life as an aerodrome. The 1948 and 1949 races were won by Maserati. 1950 saw the birth of the Formula One Championship with Silverstone hosting the first ever round. Alfa Romeo’s Giuseppe Farina was victorious in the first ever F1 Grand Prix. The next four years saw Ferrari dominating the venue with José Froilan Gonzales and Alberto Ascari. The Argentinian’s win in 1951 was the first ever victory for the fabled Ferrari stable.

In 1955, the British GP moved to Aintree which began to alternate the race with Silverstone for the coming years. Aintree played host to the GP in 1962 for the last time. Out came Aintree, in came a new venue. 1964 saw the first Formula One race at the southern English circuit known as Brands Hatch, located in Kent, just outside London. The track was built in the early 1950s and had been extended in 1960. Silverstone hosted the British Grand Prix in odd-numbered years and Brands Hatch in even-numbered years. Since 1987, Silverstone has been a fixture on the F1 calendar, hosting the British Grand Prix in every single year.

Silverstone's layout, like Brands Hatch, had changed little since 1949. 1987 saw Silverstone being modified; the Woodcote chicane was no longer used and a new left-right chicane was built on the Farm Straight just before Woodcote. After the tragedies of Imola in 1994, a chicane was installed at the flat-out Abbey corner 6 weeks before the event was due to take place and Stowe corner was slowed considerably. The 2010 race saw a new circuit configuration being used, using the brand new "Arena" layout.

For 2011 a new pit complex was built between Club and Abbey Corners, to where the start/finish line was moved. Silverstone is still a very fast circuit- with average speeds up in the 145 mph range for Formula 1 cars; one of the highest average speeds on the F1 calendar.

Hamilton sets sights on new record

Lewis Hamilton can become the most successful driver in the history of the British Grand Prix if he can emerge victorious on Sunday. The Briton has won on five occasions, once for McLaren and four times for Mercedes. Alain Prost and Jim Clark won the British Grand Prix on five occasions, as well.

Nigel Mansell is the only driver with four British Grand Prix victories. Jack Brabham, Niki Lauda and Michael Schumacher all claimed triumphs in Great Britain three times. The two-time British Grand Prix winners form a long list of drivers including Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, David Coulthard, Emerson Fittipaldi, Stirling Moss, Alberto Ascari, Jose Froilan Gonzales, Jackie Stewart, Stirling Moss and Jacques Villeneuve.

Among the constructors Ferrari is the most successful outfit, followed by McLaren and Williams. The Maranello-based team won sixteen races, the Woking-based outfit fourteen while the Grove-based squad ten Grands Prix. With eights victories, Lotus is the fourth most successful team. The team founded by Colin Chapman in 1954 enjoyed a sweeping winning streak between 1962 and 1972 with only failing to win the British Grand Prix three times during this 11-year-long period.

Mercedes have won on six occasions. The Anglo-German outfit emerged victorious at the 1955 British Grand Prix held at Aintree. With Nico Rosberg at the wheel, Mercedes scored its second victory in the country lying on the largest European island in 2013. When the hybrid power units were introduced in 2014, the sport’s current dominant force began its winning streak which came to an end due to Sebastian Vettel’s 2018 victory.

Red Bull is a three-time winning team in Great Britain. The Milton Keynes-based outfit scored its second victory in its history at the 2009 British Grand Prix thanks to Sebastian Vettel’s masterful performance. Mark Webber took Red Bull’s two other triumphs in Great Britain.

A high-speed race track

At the end of the relatively short start-finish straight, drivers arrive to Turn 1, Abbey, which in many cars will be a slight lift with a committed and almost blind turn. Drivers then take the following turn, Farm at full throttle, allowing cars to run wide, using every inch of its exit. The next two corners build the slowest part of the circuit where patience is a key word. It is possible to use the kerbing to hold a tighter line through the Village and Loop corners, but it is vital to be patient on the throttle and try to clip the apex in Aintree in order to have a perfect exit onto the Wellington Straight.

Sector Two starts with the Brooklands corner. Drivers are adamant to hold a tight line by clipping the kerbing through Brooklands. As they usually carry as much speed as possible into it, they are forced to run wide on their way to the right-hand Luffield Corner. There are different ways to take that never-ending middle-speed corner, but it is important to get the car rotated to allow early acceleration out of it onto the iconic Woodcote turn. It is taken flat-out and leads onto another high-speed section of the National Pits Straight. Drivers can here prepare themselves and their cars for a blind and very fast turn into Copse. The next combination of corners test drivers’ courage and car’s aerodynamic balance as they allow massive speeds. Maintaining speed with patience on the throttle through the Maggots, Becketts complex is of key importance.

The following Chapel Curve is the exit out of this combination of high-speed turns and it leads onto the 770-m-long Hangar Straight. The setup is also under review in the following slightly uphill Stowe Corner. It is vital to hold a tight line into it, but there is plenty of kerbing on the exit, allowing drivers to take wide exit lines. The run downhill to Vale requires good and precise braking. Through the last part of the circuit, the Club Corner, drivers can use the kerbing in a wild manner to maintain tight lines before arriving back onto the finish straight.

For this weekend, Pirelli’s compound offer includes the hard C1, the medium C2 and the soft C3 tyres.