The Event Falling earlier this year than usual to avoid clashes with the World Cup, the British Grand Prix will take place this Sunday, 11 June. Silverstone, now regarded as one of the most challenging tracks remaining on the calendar, is a home...
Falling earlier this year than usual to avoid clashes with the World Cup, the British Grand Prix will take place this Sunday, 11 June. Silverstone, now regarded as one of the most challenging tracks remaining on the calendar, is a home Grand Prix for the majority of Formula One teams but holds particular significance for WilliamsF1.
The Home of British Motorsport provided the stage for the team's very first victory twenty seven years ago as well the 100th Grand Prix win, achieved in 1997. Over the years, the British Grand Prix has proved to be a most fortuitous track for Williams with over 70% of the races held at Silverstone yielding at least a podium finish for the team.
Between the races
The team's drivers encountered a busy schedule following the Monaco Grand Prix. Nico and Alex spent two days last week at the Circuit de Catalunya undertaking key preparations for Silverstone while Mark Webber has undertaken the marketing responsibilities. The weekend saw Mark at the Bluewater shopping centre, in Kent, where he braved the Saturday shoppers to participate in simulator competitions with fans as part of a Philips promotional day.
On Tuesday, he visits the world famous Hamleys toy store on behalf of Baugur where, among other customer-focused activities, he will lunch with children from the Make-a-Wish charity. The final commitment in his diary will take Mark to London again on Wednesday for a Tourism Tasmania press function to promote the Mark Webber Pure Tasmania Challenge to the British media before heading north to Silverstone for more familiar responsibilities.
Making the car go faster
Renowned as one of the most demanding tracks on the calendar, the team has undertaken a rigorous test programme ahead of this weekend's race. A trip to the Northamptonshire track in April allowed Mark, Nico and Alex to get to grips with the fast straights and corners over the three day test during which the trio covered nearly 3,000kms while working on set-up, tyre compound testing and aero mods specific to Silverstone.
This week, the Circuit de Catalunya, a track which bears similar characteristics to Silverstone, has been used as a testing ground for the British GP. A two day session allowed Nico and Alex to carry out tyre testing with Bridgestone to assist in the selection for the race, while also developing set-up options.
Silverstone from a technical perspective
A sixty lap race, the British Grand Prix is a punishing 191 mile endurance test. The blend of high and slow speed corners, connected by three long straights, creates an uncompromisingly fast circuit, one that inevitably rewards engine power but one which also demands a delicately balanced set-up to cope with the high speed directional changes. Aerodynamic efficiency and harder compound tyres will therefore be crucial to sustain pace and position through the faster corners, such as Copse, but also through the slower corners, particularly into the Complex at the end of the lap.
Not only are the drivers presented with one of the most technically demanding circuits, they are also forced to contend with the unpredictable weather conditions common to Silverstone's micro-climate. Prevailing winds are a concern at the old airfield and can affect the car's drivability, so must be carefully considered in the set-up process. A traditional track, Silverstone naturally boasts several areas which promote overtaking, principally Vale and Abbey, which will undoubtedly encourage some exciting racing action on Sunday afternoon.
"Although I wasn't involved in this week's test at Barcelona, I know part of our programme was to try a few different things to help our performance at the British Grand Prix. Barcelona is not dissimilar to Silverstone and, based upon our performance there in the Spanish Grand Prix, we have a lot of improving to do. Unfortunately, our Monaco pace will have no relevance whatsoever to next weekend at Silverstone as it requires totally different characteristics from the car."
"Of course, having lived in England for the past six or so years, Silverstone is almost like a second "home" Grand Prix for me. It's good to be able to go home each night and enjoy the familiar comfort of my own house, and also being able to share the weekend with friends and family which I don't often get to do. Being a British-based team, this race is always an important one for WilliamsF1 too, both in terms of entertaining sponsors and enabling the factory-based members of staff to be a part of the weekend."
"Silverstone is a very exciting track. I already have quite a lot of experience of it as I have done lots of testing there, especially with the V10 engine last year. I don't think we are going to be as strong there as we were in Monaco, but I think we can still score some points. During the intensive test in Barcelona last week, we managed to improve many things, Cosworth, in particular, have made another good step forward with the engine."
Sam Michael, Technical Director, WilliamsF1:
"After our strong car performance in Monaco was let down by two exhaust failures, we have been busy testing at Barcelona with a series of changes to avoid a reoccurrence. Now on to Silverstone which is a high speed circuit with fast changes of direction and three straights that reward power. There is a slow speed section at the end of the lap where good mechanical grip is important. As always, aero efficiency is a key factor and, as such, the set-up is tuned towards improved high speed stability."
"We have some small upgrades for the British Grand Prix, with the main difference being a return to a normal downforce level after Monaco. Strategy is now becoming interesting again as the first stint fuel load is normally affected by how close the cars are to each other in qualifying trim. Overtaking is difficult, but still possible here."
Simon Corbyn, Head of F1 Race Engineering, Cosworth:
"No major mechanical problems have been identified with the ex-Monaco Grand Prix engines and Cosworth plan to run both engines on for their second events at Silverstone. As unfortunately neither engine completed the last race then we are in a position where we could change without penalty but, given the reduced mileage and low duty cycle at Monaco, these are strong second event engines. Both have therefore been prepped for the race and all damaged external parts replaced. In line with FIA Regulations, we will fire the engines up on Thursday at Silverstone for their final checks."