Round nine of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship takes the Honda Racing F1 Team just seven miles from its base in Brackley to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. The 5.141km (3.194-mile) circuit is one of the fastest and most famous...
Round nine of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship takes the Honda Racing F1 Team just seven miles from its base in Brackley to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. The 5.141km (3.194-mile) circuit is one of the fastest and most famous tracks on the F1 calendar, making it popular with drivers, engineers and spectators.
Silverstone was the scene of the first F1 World Championship Grand Prix in May 1950, although the circuit staged its first non-championship race two years earlier and will celebrate its 60th anniversary this year. Formerly a World War II airfield, the track initially used the airfield's perimeter road before undergoing various facelifts. The layout that is used today has been in place since June 1994, when the Abbey Chicane was modified following the events of Imola the previous month.
The Honda Racing F1 Team's Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello know Silverstone well, having contested much of their racing in the junior formulas in the UK. They have regularly finished in the points here and the most emphatic of Rubens' nine wins took place at the track in 2003, when he overtook Kimi Raikkonen to win the race by five seconds.
SILVERSTONE - THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE
Generally, Silverstone is a very fast track. The fast, sweeping bends at the start of the lap require a lot of confidence from the drivers, so they tend to set-up their cars for Copse, Becketts and Stowe while doing the best they can through the slow complex of corners at the end of the lap.
As at any track, there is more lap time to be lost and found through the slow corners, particularly at Club, the Abbey chicane and the final complex, where traction is all-important. As a result of the slow-speed grip needed through these slower sections, the cars run slightly more downforce than at Magny Cours, the last race on the calendar, and that places an emphasis on aerodynamic efficiency.
There are several sections of the track where the absence of traction control this year will frustrate the drivers, particularly at the exit of Club where the cars accelerate from second gear through to fifth while under severe lateral load. This makes it one of the key corners, as are the two left-handers - Priory and Brooklands - entering the final complex.
The asphalt is quite smooth, except for a couple of bumpy sections midway through the lap. Notably, the braking point for Vale is very bumpy so a few cars may be swapping ends early in the weekend as drivers work out their braking points.
Full throttle: 62%
Brake wear: Light
Downforce level: High - 8/10
Tyre compounds: Medium / Hard
Tyre usage: Medium
Average speed: 230kph (143mph)
HONDA TEAM TALK
Ross Brawn, Team Principal
Q. How do you expect the Honda Racing F1 Team to perform at the British Grand Prix?
"As the first of our two home races on the calendar, the British Grand Prix is very important to the team, particularly with Silverstone being located so close to our operational base in Brackley. We expect to see an improvement to the performance of the RA108 at Silverstone, certainly compared to the French Grand Prix at Magny Cours. We have a number of new performance parts on the car in the areas of chassis, aerodynamics and engine, which should allow us to be on the pace with our current competitors in the midfield. Our drivers are looking forward to the challenge of the weekend and both rate this track as one of their favourites. Rubens has a great history here and always performs very well at Silverstone, and Jenson is extremely motivated to do well at his home race."
Q. The team tested various performance upgrades last week. Will you be running the new parts this weekend?
"The Silverstone test went very well last week and all of our development parts performed as expected. We will complete our performance and reliability analysis at the factory over the next few days before making the final decisions on our package for the race weekend. A major advantage of the test was that it enabled us to complete a comprehensive set-up programme and tyre evaluation with the Bridgestone Potenza tyre compounds available for the race, which will allow us to concentrate on pure performance gains during practice."
Q. How much are you looking forward to your home race at the British Grand Prix?
"The British Grand Prix is always a very special weekend for me and I'm excited about racing there again in front of the British crowd. Whatever position you are in and regardless of the performance of your car, the fans are always so supportive and the atmosphere from the grandstands over the weekend is fantastic. Silverstone is one of my all-time favourite circuits and I particularly love the section of the track around Becketts. The change of direction is amazing as is the speed that the cars carry through there. It's one of the best complexes in F1 and a great place to watch the race."
Q. You won the British Grand Prix in 2003. What does it take to be quick around Silverstone?
"I've spent a great deal of time testing and racing at Silverstone since I was very young so it is almost like a home track for me. I also have some very special memories from here, especially my win from pole position back in 2003. To get the best from a lap of Silverstone, you need to have good aerodynamic performance from your car. This is a high-speed and fast-flowing circuit, one of the few remaining on the calendar, and it's a highlight for the drivers as you can really let the car go. The entrance to Becketts is the quickest corner on the track, a 290kph bend, leading into a challenging complex. Overtaking is possible, particularly into the slower corners at Vale and Abbey. You can overtake elsewhere and because it is such a high-speed circuit, such moves tend to be spectacular. As one of our home races, there is always a lot of expectation prior to Silverstone. Following the test, I am confident that we can have a good race this weekend."
Honda in the United Kingdom
Honda has a strong presence in the UK. The company sold 106,018 vehicles here last year, making it the biggest European market, and sales were driven by strong demand for the Civic, Jazz and CR-V models.
The UK is the home of Honda's UK Manufacturing car plant in Swindon, which produced 237,783 units in 2007. One of these was the millionth Honda Civic, which came off the line in November 2007, with the two millionth Swindon-produced car - a silver CR-V - coming off the line on 21 February 2008.
New to HondaRacingF1.com
Honda Racing TV will be previewing the British Grand Prix with an exclusive interview with Jenson Button on his home race. Also featured will be an in-depth look at traction control and how the drivers have adapted to its removal this year.