Circuit Length: 5.891 Km
Lap Record: 1:30.874 = 233.373 km/h - F. Alonso (Ferrari) 2010
Silverstone hosted the race that is regarded as the first Formula 1 World Championship Grand Prix on May 13, 1950. It was another time, another era – only five major teams took part in the championship and three of them were Italian. Alfa Romeo had the great Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina at the wheel, Ferrari had Italian Alberto Ascari and Maserati Monaco’s Louis Chiron. But at that inaugural event run between straw bales on the old wartime aerodrome it was Giuseppe Farina, of Italy, who triumphed for Alfa in a clean sweep ahead of compatriot Luigi Fagioli and home favourite Reg Parnell. Alfas had also taken the front three place on the grid with Farina ahead of Fagioli and Fangio third. The great man, who was to be champion by the end of the season, retired with an oil leak after 62 of the 70 laps in a contest watched intently by the King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth. It was also designated that year as the Grand Prix of Europe.
Since 1950, Silverstone has been a near ever-present feature of the world championship and, along with Monza and Suzuka, remains as one of the few ‘power circuits’ remaining on the regular calendar. It has been modified many times since the second world war, but remains a sweeping, open and often wind- or weather-affected venue characterized by its rural location and sense of tradition. The most recent modifications were in 2010 yet it remains, essentially, a high-speed test of nerve and talent. Proof of this comes with the statistic that seven of the 18 different corners are taken at more than 250 kph in a modern F1 car. Additionally, more than 60 per cent of each lap is driven at full throttle. These speeds, added to the swift changes of direction on an abrasive surface, can mean the tyres take a pounding…
Q: In which year did Jack Brabham win the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on his way to claiming the Drivers World Championship? Answer below
Despite its huge attendances – a record 315,000 attended the weekend’s action in 2011 – and traditional place at the heart of motor racing history, Silverstone is this year having to offer tickets for sale on the day. The organisers say this is as a result of a combination of factors including economic austerity, doubts about the weather and the continuing domination of Sebastian Vettel… Yet, Vettel drives a Red Bull Racing car built at nearby Milton Keynes. It is also thought that a sole home winner (Lewis Hamilton in 2008) in 12 years has damped local enthusiasm.
However much you try, it is difficult not to answer Sebastian Vettel to that question. His win in Canada three weeks ago was executed in consummate fashion with pole position and then a lights-to-flag demonstration of his and Red Bull’s utter supremacy on the day. Yet, while Red Bull have won three of the last four British Grands Prix, only one of those has been taken by the German triple champion, back in 2009. This season, however, Vettel has been Mr Consistency with three wins and five podiums in his string of seven top four finishes.
Pirelli will hope for a weekend when they are not the hot topic of news or controversy. After the prolonged saga of the ‘secret testing/tyregate’ scandal, that led to an International Tribunal hearing in Paris, the Italian company is covering all bases with the tyres they are bringing to the English midlands. “We've brought the two hardest compounds because of it’s a circuit that takes a lot out of the tyres, and with a new bonding process connecting the tread to the steel belt, which is designed to eliminate the isolated delamination issues seen earlier this season,” said Paul Hembery. They will also have some prototype hard tyres available, developed for more durability, for free practice and a supply of the Cinturato Green intermediate and Cinturato Blue full wet tyres in readiness for rain.
Alas, for his many admirers and British fans, it is Jenson Button, a great favourite on home soil, but never a winner and currently competing in a car that he knows lacks the performance to compete even for a podium position. He and his Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team went straight line testing in Spain in a bid to find more downforce and better understand their car. But after seven races off the podium – with a best this year of fifth in China – it is unlikely that the 2009 champion will be aiming for anything better than a points finish.
Fernando Alonso (Scuderia Ferrari); 1:51.746 = 189.783 km/h
1st: Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing) 1:25.11.288
2nd: Fernando Alonso (Scuderia Ferrari)
3rd: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing)
Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus F1 Team); 1:34.661 = 224.037 km/h on Lap 50
Webber / Ricciardo Watch
Mark has a chance of completing a ‘hat-trick’ of three Silverstone wins in four years after claiming victory in 2010 and 2012. He was also second in 2009 and third in 2011, so he has been on the podium four years running – not bad, as he once said, ‘for a second driver…’ This will be his 12th visit, but only Dan Ricciardo’s third as he bids to improve on a 13th place finish in his Toro Rosso last year.
+ Jack Brabham won the 1960 British Grand Prix at Silverstone in a Cooper-Climax en route to his second Drivers’ World championship.