Silverstone: What You Need to Know

Fact File: Silverstone, Britain, United Kingdom

Laps 52
Lap Length 5.891 km (3.660 miles)
Race Length 306.227 km (190.281 miles)
First Race 1950
Fastest Lap F Alonso 1:30.874 (Ferrari, 2010)
2010 Winner Mark Webber (Red Bull)

Layout and Approach:

The drivers have already tested the waters of this new layout in 2010, but this year they have another dramatic change to get to grips with. Originally the drivers would leap off the start line and instantly charge towards Copse, but this year they will be heading towards Abbey instead. The new pit complex was built in order to stave off another attack from Bernie Ecclestone wanting to move away from Silverstone. The multimillion pound facelift has now brought the circuit up to ‘world class’ standards, without making it look like a desperate Hollywood starlet trying to revive her career. It’s a high downforce track, which now has a pit lane that may not be that much of an imposition, another race full of pitstops then. As it stands, rumours seem to points towards ‘stop-go’ penalties in the pit lane rather than a simple drive through under the speed restriction. Regardless of how many times the circuit is tweaked and altered it will always remains a speed demon’s dream, hence its popularity with both drivers and fans. With an average speed of 240 km/h, the drivers will be zipping around this lap, so why don’t we?

This year we’re starting on the straight heading towards Abbey, but instead of a left turn into Bridge and Priory, we’re going right towards the sweeping left curve into Farm. Next up is the new area built for the spectators, Village corner, a tight right turn designed to help with overtaking in conjunction with The Loop. Aintree’s left turn will be taken flat out, considered more of a kink than a corner before the new Wellington Straight (DRS zone). Now we’re back to something more familiar, they’ll sweep through Brooklands before heading into the long Luffield right-handed hairpin. The old final corner of Woodcote remains a fast right turn feeding into the former start/finish straight. Now here comes the history, the brave, full of downforce and in the dry will take Copse flat out, a breath is taken as they head into the classic combination of Maggots, Becketts and Chapel (right, left, right). The Hanger Straight leads the procession into the fast right turn of Stowe, two right hand turns later take you past Club and towards the finish line.

Overtaking and Strategy:

The weather is sure to play a part this weekend, with revellers and early arrivals already taking cover in their (hopefully) waterproof accommodation. Jenson Button was hoping for a wet race, and with this being the middle of the British summer his wish was granted, but one has to assume that he did a little rain dance for insurance. With the off-throttle ban in action this weekend free practice, regardless of the weather, will be of utmost importance for the likes of Red Bull testing out the level of destruction to their design. But then again, Silverstone rewards cars that are aerodynamically efficient, and guess who has that down a fine art?

Usually a lack of overtaking is frowned upon in F1, but Silverstone manages to eschew the criticism (mostly) as the atmosphere is second to none, but the addition of DRS/KERS/Pirelli promise to make it less tricky. As mentioned above, the new section designed for the spectators also had overtaking in mind. Getting the jump on a rival in the Village/Loop combination will feed into the Wellington Straight and DRS zone, the run between Stowe and Vale also serves as another overtaking spot. Although as we’ve seen at almost over track this year, overtaking is unknown territory.

Pirelli chose their compounds to cope with the demanding circuit (hard) and to push for another lap record (soft), and therefore the strategy will be split. Choose to go for longer stints and less pitstops on the prime tyres, or rely on their performance and use the less durable option. But back to the weather (we’re in Britain after all) it intermittent showers have been forecast, so this may mean nothing on Sunday.

Tyres:

Prime compound: Hard (silver)

Option compound: Soft (yellow)

DRS:

We’ve returned to the single zone in Silverstone this weekend, two were used in Canada and Valencia and neither produced the expected results. So back to one, the zone stretches the length of the Wellington Straight, in the run up to Brooklands. The detection zone is shortly before activation just before the entry to Village.

Why Silverstone Rocks:

Now if you want to experience a slice of motorsport history then you don’t have to look much further than Silverstone, parked in what is considered the ‘home of motorsport’ it is, next to Monaco and their respective home race, the one the drivers want to win. The best of the best have raced, won and celebrated here and some have even got the fans to invade the circuit. Silverstone is legendary, and a staple of the F1 diet now, and hopefully for decades to come. And it’s not just the history that makes this a haven for fans and drivers, speed, speed, speed is the name of the game here. From inception its consistently been the one of the fastest courses included in the calendar, providing the drivers with a opportunity to push themselves and their cars to the limit. Located across the borders of 2 counties (Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire) and on an old airbase it signifies the formative years of a great sporting institution.

5 Key Points:

  • The history
  • The fans
  • The speed
  • The home race of McLaren, Hamilton, Button, Renault, Paul di Resta and Williams
  • The debut of Daniel Ricciardo
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