After France, Formula One moves quickly on to the British Grand Prix for round 11 of the championship. Silverstone is a favourite with the drivers and is considered a real racer's circuit with its high speed sections and challenging corners. Seven...
After France, Formula One moves quickly on to the British Grand Prix for round 11 of the championship. Silverstone is a favourite with the drivers and is considered a real racer's circuit with its high speed sections and challenging corners. Seven of the ten teams have bases in Britain so Silverstone is an important event for those that call it a home race.
The track has three fast straights and a complex section of slow corners at the end of the lap, so both engine power and aerodynamic efficiency are needed. The infamous British weather has been known to provide very unpredictable conditions for the race.
"Silverstone is a track familiar to our three drivers and it requires the car to be good aerodynamically, mechanically and in terms of power, so it is challenging in every respect for engineers and designers," said Jordan sporting director Adrian Burgess, whose team headquarters is just over the road from the circuit.
"The wind is another major factor at Silverstone because the surrounding area is very flat and that can affect handling," said Toyota's Jarno Trulli. "Of course, the weather can then throw anything at you in one race, so we have to be prepared for anything."
Fernando Alonso was on form in France and while Renault teammate Giancarlo Fisichella had a few ups and downs, the Italian has gone well at Silverstone in previous races. "I think we will be very strong -- although when we tested there last month, McLaren also looked very quick, so maybe they will be a little bit ahead of us," said Fisichella.
"But we have new engine developments for Silverstone, which will give us a boost, and I have always had strong races there in the past. The car needs to have quite high levels of downforce and a strong engine, and the R25 has both. We have been strong at every circuit, fighting for the podium everywhere. So we will definitely be aiming for a podium finish."
McLaren is the team favoured to be dominant this weekend. Kimi Raikkonen put in a blistering performance at Magny Cours and the car will be more suited to Silverstone than the Renault. Juan Pablo Montoya was on the pace in France until a hydraulic failure robbed him of a podium finish, so McLaren is looking good.
"I think Silverstone is usually good for us," Raikkonen commented. "We did one test there already this year and we were pretty quick, so I think we will have a good week as long as we don't have any problems with the car."
Michael Schumacher came home third in France but Ferrari was not overjoyed with the result as it had expected to be challenging for the win. If not for Montoya's retirement, Michael probably wouldn't have been on the podium and he finished the race over a minute down on Alonso. Ferrari was disappointed with its lack of performance.
"We thought we had better pace," admitted team principal Jean Todt. Michael commented: "The race at Magny Cours led us astray a little. After our showing on Friday and Saturday we thought we would have had a better chance. So, now I am a bit careful about making predictions."
Jenson Button finally managed to score, and keep, some points for BAR in France and the Englishman is hoping for a podium finish at his home race. "It goes without saying that it would be fantastic to achieve another podium this weekend," he remarked. "I love racing at Silverstone and we completed a very positive test there in June in preparation for the race."
Red Bull's David Coulthard, fresh from signing a new contract to race for the team next year, is the other Brit on the grid. "There is no individual section that's the key to a good lap at Silverstone," he said. "Nailing Becketts -- a high- speed corner with a sudden change of direction -- always helps and is particularly satisfying from a driver's point of view."
As preparations for the on-track action continue, the off-track shenanigans also continue apace. The Grand Prix Drivers' Association was due to meet with FIA president Max Mosley at Silverstone this weekend but Mosley called it off after taking a dim view of comments Coulthard made in the press in regard to the current rules.
The drivers then sent Mosley a letter in which they questioned his attitude towards safety and said they were disappointed not to have his support in such matters. Most of the drivers signed the letter, including, interestingly, Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello. Those who did not sign were Michael Schumacher and, curiously, the Red Bull drivers.
Politics and cloak-and-dagger goings on aside, let's hope that Silverstone can give us a good race. France was not exactly a thriller and we could do with some decent on-track action as a welcome break from the off-track arguments.