McLaren ready for Silverstone challenge

By on

The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team travels to Silverstone, which is located approximately 125km from the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking and 35km from Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines in Brixworth, this week for one of the team’s home races of 2007, the Santander British Grand Prix.

The race marks the mid point of the 2007 Formula 1 World Championship, with a further eight Grands Prix remaining. At this middle stage of the season, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team lies in first position of the Constructors’ table with 114 points. Lewis and Fernando continue to lead the Drivers’ standings with 64 and 50 points respectively. This is the first time that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Corporate Partner Santander has been the Title Sponsor of a Grand Prix, which is considered by Santander as a key activity this year in their commitment to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and the sport.

Fast facts Why is aerodynamic efficiency key at Silverstone?

Silverstone is renowned for its super high speed corners that populate the first half of the circuit. These demand optimum aero efficiency and a stable balance; this allows the drivers to attack the fast corners and get a good lap time. In addition, it is essential to have good mechanical grip for the latter part of the track; so whilst the aerodynamic performance is vital, so is a compromise with the set-up.

At the 2006 race, the lap times around Silverstone were faster despite the use of V8 engines. Will the control Bridgestone Potenzas have any effect on lap time this season?

At the race last year, the cars had more grip because of the use of softer tyres, and this meant that despite the V8 engines, lap times were faster and the cars were quicker in the corners. The Bridgestone Potenza tyres are not as soft this year, and as a result, the cars carry marginally less speed through the corners, particularly at the start of the track. However the difference from 2006 to 2007 will not be as marked as from 2005 to 2006 lap times.

Why is the Maggots - Becketts - Chapel sequence so renowned?

This complex is one of the most legendary sequences in Formula 1. At the start of the track, the S bends see the drivers flicked left through Maggots, before an immediate right-left flick of Becketts that leads you into Chapel. This slightly longer right hander is followed by a sweeping left that takes you onto the long Hanger straight. This series of high speed direction changes see the cars pushed to their limits and the drivers put under heavy g-force, as they try to hook up the apexes. It is one of the best locations to watch a Formula 1 car in action.

When did motor racing arrive at Silverstone?

Silverstone was the host venue of the first race in the history of Formula 1, which took place on 13th May 1950, The then 4.7km track had originally been an airfield. Since 1950, 40 British Grands Prix have been hosted at Silverstone, with Aintree and Brands Hatch running the event on five and twelve occasions respectively. McLaren has won 13 out of the 41 British Grands Prix it has entered to date. The team has won four of the last eight races including Juan Pablo Montoya's maiden win for the outfit in 2005, David Coulthard’s victories in 1999 and 2000, which was a double victory ahead of Mika Hakkinen, and Mika’s win in 2001.

Fernando Alonso "After the race at Magny Cours, which was always going to be challenging following qualifying, we came away with a decent result considering and we are now focusing on a more positive weekend at the Santander British Grand Prix. Silverstone has always been a special race for me as it is one of the biggest Grands Prix of the year and has a unique atmosphere. The fans have a big passion and knowledge for the sport; and it is always a pleasure to race in front of the British crowd. This is even more the case this year as it will be the first time in front of lots of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes employees who will be attending the race; it definitely gives extra motivation. It was a special win for me last year; it was very competitive and tough, but that is always the way at Silverstone. It is great fun to race here as there are some great corners; Copse is one of the fastest we race through. We drive it flat out; it is very quick in the entry with a short apex and you have to get the line just right. Because of all the speed, the car needs to have good handling balance. The track surface is quite bumpy and this can mean visibility is quite bad at some points of the track and you need a good ride height. Overtaking is also possible; probably the best places to do this are through Stowe, Vale and Club."

Lewis Hamilton "Without a doubt, the Santander British Grand Prix will be the biggest race of the year for me, as it’s my debut home race. It is going to be another new experience, I expect the atmosphere will be incredible and I cannot wait to race in front of my home fans. To win at this race would be immense, but we have to be realistic with our expectations. This is one race out of 17 and as with all the Grands Prix, I will do my best to win for the fans, but the most important thing for them is to enjoy the whole weekend whatever the result will be. Silverstone always seems to have great races. I certainly had fun here last year as you can really push the limits. That weekend with GP2 last year is something I will never forget; the response from the crowd was like nothing I had ever experienced before and I can’t wait to get back out on track. The Silverstone circuit is very different to Magny Cours due to all the high speed corners. It still needs a set-up compromise to make sure we have high speed stability for first section and grip for the latter part with the slower corners such as Priory and Brooklands. You are also under heavy loadings for much of the lap, so it is quite tough. I hope everyone enjoys the race and the team has a great result."

Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula 1, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes "We had a mixed weekend in France but were able to score points towards our Championships challenges. Whilst we did not take maximum points, we are not disheartened, there is more performance coming to the MP4-22 and Fernando and Lewis both drove well in France and they will continue to get more out of the package. We are also confident that the issue with Fernando’s gearbox was a one-off and we are working to eliminate any recurrence. The Santander British Grand Prix is going to be a big event for the team. The expectations of the British fans for the team are high . Fernando, Lewis and the whole team will be pushing hard to fight for the victory, but there are no guarantees in this sport. We hope all the spectators enjoy the race and that the team continues to build on its lead in both Championships. The Silverstone circuit is traditionally pretty tough on tyres, however we collated some useful data at the recent test with Bridgestone which will aid our strategy decisions regarding tyres."

Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport "The Silverstone circuit has a unique layout; there is nothing similar during the entire Formula 1 season. Silverstone is called ‘The Home of British Motor Racing’ and this year we will see there spectators and more enthusiasm than ever - because of Lewis and the performance of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes during this season so far. We have won four out of the last eight races at Silverstone; as well as we four out of this year’s Grands Prix so far. However, Magny-Cours showed that there is no guarantee of race wins. Ferrari was stronger there and this means that we have to improve further. Silverstone will be the first of our two races on home ground; the second will follow two weeks later at the Nürburgring. Many of the employees in Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart will have the opportunity to see the team in action and to support them. In both races we will have more fans to keep their fingers crossed for us than in the previous races - apart from Spain where we enjoyed the support from Fernando’s fans. Our team will do everything to match the high expectations."