BRITISH GP PREVIEW
THE FAST-FLOWING CLASSIC
Williams’ chief technical officer The British Grand Prix is the home race for many of the F1 teams and, furthermore, it is based very close to the headquarters of most of them. Although this may perhaps create the impression that this is an event where the preparation and execution can be a little more relaxed, usually the opposite it is true. Being so close to base means that teams are often in more of a rush to get new developments on the car, because they can without having to ship or fly the components abroad.
The Silverstone circuit, on the site of a former World War II bomber station, has seen many changes over the years. It was last renovated in 2010, but its inherent nature remains unchanged: it is still a high-speed circuit with rapid direction changes, and that makes it the favourite of many drivers.
The positioning of the circuit on the large, flat expanse of a former airfleld means prevailing winds can be strong here. And when changeable and potentially strong winds combine with the high-speed corners that dominate this track, it creates a thorny problem for drivers and engineers alike. Both need to understand the wind conditions since it will affect drivers’ braking points in to and out of corners, depending on whether there is a headwind or tailwind and because crosswinds, especially in high-speed corners, can really unsettle the car.
The key to a quick lap around here is a car that remains stable during direction changes, and one that is aerodynamically stable, because most of the track is spent at high speed where aerodynamic loads dominate. There are not too many large braking events, which means that overtaking can be difficult and brake wear is not really ever an issue here.
The circuit is quite bumpy and cars’ ride heights must be set up with this constraint in mind. But with many drivers having driven here in the lower formulae, most will know Silverstone like the backs of their hands, which helps.
The bumpiness aside, there are a few other peculiarities at Silverstone, one being that due to the different resurfacing projects carried out over the years, the track is not exactly homogenous. It’s often noted that certain parts take longer to dry out in the wet (sector three, for example).
Round 9 / 4-6 July / Silverstone
In one of 2013’s most dramatic races, problems with the Pirelli tyres caused a number of lengthy Safety Car periods. A puncture robbed Lewis Hamilton of his lead and, ultimately, the victory. He fought back to finish fourth, while team-mate Nico Rosberg took the win.