Formula 1: 2013 British Grand Prix Preview
After a three-week break to get over the trip to Canada, the British Grand Prix will take place on 30 June at the Silverstone circuit in Northamptonshire, England.
This event is the oldest of the World Championship era. The first race of the inaugural Formula One World Championship was held here in 1950, and there has been a British Grand Prix every year since.
In the days of Michael Schumacher-dominated history lists, some different names get a look in here. Jim Clark and Alain Prost have the most wins in British races, with five apiece. Home favourite Clark's wins came from only eight attempts.
Of the current drivers, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber have two wins each. Eight times in the past 20 years, the man who won this race went on to become champion.
Silverstone has had many shapes in its layout history and has produced some memorable races in the past. With the Mercedes tyre scandal mostly behind us, let's hope this weekend breathes some new life into the championship battle.
As It Stands
Sebastian Vettel's victory in Canada gave him a substantial lead at the top of the drivers' championship. Kimi Raikkonen has had a poor run of races and has lost second place to Fernando Alonso.
Unless something bizarre happens, Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber are probably too far back to mount a challenge. The current Top 10 are:
|01||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||132|
|05||Mark Webber||Red Bull||69|
|08||Paul di Resta||Force India||34|
Red Bull seem to be cruising to yet another constructors' title. Unless one of their rivals improves dramatically (or Adrian Newey decides he'd like a quiet life), they're unlikely to be challenged.
The once-mighty Williams are yet to score a point this year. The British Grand Prix marks their 600th race. The teams with at least one point are:
This will be the fourth race held on the "new" layout, and it's still somewhat confusing to fans who grew up with the pit straight being between Woodcote and Copse.
Changing corners are easy to keep up with, but when you shift the pit lane and start-finish line it takes a while for the mind to catch up.
Silverstone has been around a long time, and therefore nearly all the corners have well-known, established names.
Turns 1 and 2
A lap begins on the pit straight with a decent-length run down to the fast right-hander of Turn 1 (Abbey). Ideally there's no braking done here, which makes it unique among first corners on the current calendar (if we pretend Valencia doesn't exist).
This takes us onto the "new" section of the circuit, and Turn 2 (Farm) is a longer, equally fast left.
Turns 3, 4 and 5
The first dry braking zone of the lap comes into Turn 3 (Village), a tight right-hander and the first part of what is known as the Arena section. "Arena" (or Stadium) is F1-speak for a series of slow corners in close proximity.
The drivers have to quickly get across to the other side of the track for Turn 4 (The Loop), a long, tight right-hander.
Following almost immediately, Turn 5 (Aintree, named for one of the British GP's former homes) is a quick left-hander which spits the cars out onto the Wellington Straight.
Turns 6, 7 and 8
At the end of the straight comes the left-hand Turn 6 (Brooklands, named for another former home and the world's first purpose-built motor-racing venue). The corner starts out wide but tightens towards the apex.
There isn't a huge, modern-style braking zone into here, but it should be considered one of the premier overtaking spots on the circuit.
We're back on the old F1 circuit now, and next up is the long, slow right of Turn 7 (Luffield). Slightly more than 180-degrees, this corner seems to last forever before it eventually lets the cars out to where the old pit-lane entry was.
Turn 8 (Woodcote) is a flat-out right-hander leading onto the old pit straight.
Down the straight, we're approaching probably the finest high-speed section of track in the world.
Once the first corner, what is now Turn 9 (Copse) is taken flat-out. Tighter on the entry and opening out at the exit, Copse is a majestic corner—but only a taster of what is to come.
Turns 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14
Out of Copse the cars speed down a short straight towards the Maggots-Becketts-Chapel complex, comprising Turns 10-14. The only way to consider these five corners is as a set.
The first two corners (left, then right) are taken full-throttle, with a small lift before the third (left).
The fourth (right) is slightly slower still, and the most important of the set because it sets the drivers up for the straight which follows after the flat-out fifth (left) corner.
There is no better corner sequence to show off the incredible capabilities of an F1 car, and drivers consider it one of the best experiences of the year.
Out of Chapel is the Hanger Straight. Not many straights have established names, and few are as well-known as this one.
Long regarded as Silverstone's prime overtaking location, the cars are already going in excess of 150 mph when they enter it. By the end they'll be pushing 190 mph as they prepare for Turn 15 (Stowe).
Again, there's no huge braking zone. It's a quick, slightly downhill (one of the few noticeable elevation changes this very flat circuit has) right-hander which is very wide and open at the entry, before tightening a little around the apex.
The outside of the track pinches in a little at the exit, and a small straight follows.
Turns 16, 17 and 18
Only a short, slow section stands between the drivers and the start-finish line. Turns 16 and 17 (Vale) comprise Silverstone's only remaining chicane.
It's first left, then right, and one of the slowest parts of the circuit. During last year's wet qualifying, this section seemed especially slippery and awkward.
The track opens significantly at the exit to allow the drivers to get the power down early, before slowing again for the final corner, Turn 18 (Club). This is a fairly straightforward right-hander, which leads the cars back onto the pit straight and the end of the lap.
Tyres and DRS
Silverstone is full of high-speed, high-g corners which put massive loads (up to 5g lateral acceleration) through the tyres.
They wear out fast around here at the best of times, and with a track surface which offers up a decent level of grip, the emphasis is on durability.
Pirelli are bringing the white-marked medium and orange-marked hard compound tyres. This is the same combination used in Malaysia and Spain.
The hard tyre should be the first choice for the race, and according to their press release Pirelli expect a Catalunya-like three or four stops if it stays dry. Red Bull will be delighted.
Also present (Friday practice only) will be a prototype hard tyre (with increased durability), last seen in Friday practice in Spain. Each driver will receive two sets.
Pirelli have already said they won't be changing the tyres this season, so perhaps they're just using leftover stock to encourage the teams to do more running in practice.
This is a circuit on which overtaking became increasingly difficult as the cars improved over the years, and it lacks braking zones compared to most tracks on the calendar.
So DRS is probably a good thing on this circuit, and there will be two zones this weekend at opposite ends of the circuit. Each has its own detection point.
The first detection point is just before Turn 3, with the activation point just after Turn 5. The zone runs the length of the Wellington Straight, ending with braking at Brooklands.
The second detection point is between Turns 10 and 11 in the Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel complex. The activation point is on the Hanger Straight just after Turn 14, with the zone ending at Stowe.
The race is held at the height of the British summer, which means you'd probably expect the drivers to swim around the track rather than drive around it.
Instead, it looks reasonably pleasant. Rain is likely for the practice sessions on Friday, but Saturday and Sunday are expected to be dry, and the sun should make an appearance on both days.
Of course, ask any British weather aficionado and he'll tell you the forecast is probably wrong. Certainty will increase as we get closer to the race—BBC Weather, Accuweather and Formula1.com will have the latest.
As always, the British Grand Prix weekend will consist of three free practice sessions, qualifying and the race.
The session times are as follows:
All times given are local time (BST). Formula1.com has a handy one-click tool to convert them to your own timezone.
Enjoy the weekend!