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How the engineers and strategists will approach the British Grand Prix

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How the engineers and strategists will approach the British Grand Prix
Jun 25, 2013, 7:32 AM

Silverstone has the fastest corner combinations on the F1 calendar and is loved by the drivers.

Silverstone has the fastest corner combinations on the F1 calendar and is loved by the drivers. It can be a real headache for the engineers and strategists, however as it often shows up aerodynamic instabilities and it can be very difficult to get a good read on the tyres and the strategy, especially as there is usually rain during the practice sessions.

Last year's race was won on a different strategy call by Red Bull compared to Ferrari, which worked in Mark Webber's favour.

The track was built on a wartime airfield and therefore is in a windy spot, which can upset the balance of the cars.

The circuit has been modified quite a bit in the last few years and changes to the pit lane have changed the strategy planning, as the time taken in the pits is now longer. There are two DRS zones, so overtaking is not a problem at Silverstone, therefore the strategists will be looking for the fastest race option.

Various parts of have been resurfaced, such as the high speed Copse corner. The grip level remains relatively low, but the high speed corners take a lot out of the tyre, with especially high lateral energy.

Pirelli is bringing its medium and hard tyre compounds to the race this year, a similar selection to what we saw in Malaysia, Bahrain and Spain.

Track characteristics

Silverstone – 5.891km kilometres. Race distance - 52 laps = 306.227 kilometres. 18 corners in total. A high speed circuit based on an old WWII airfield. Lots of high-speed corners, aerodynamically challenging, very easy on brakes.

Aerodynamic setup – Med/High downforce. Top speed 311km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) - 301km/h without.

Full throttle – 66% of the lap (medium). Total fuel needed for race distance – 150 kilos (average/high). Fuel consumption – 2.36kg per lap (high)

Time spent braking: 9% of lap (very low). 9 braking zones. Brake wear- Low.

Total time needed for pit stop: 25 seconds.

Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.38 seconds (high)

Form Guide

The British Grand Prix is the eighth round of the 2013 FIA F1 World Championship.

Traditionally Silverstone has been a circuit which suits the Red Bull car, with its aerodynamics very effective in high speed corners. Red Bull has won the race in three of the last four years. With a lead in both the drivers’ and the constructors’ championships, they are currently the team to beat.

As far as drivers’ form is concerned; Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso have won the race twice, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen have won there once.

Weather Forecast

The weather in England, even in summer, is notoriously hard to predict. Last year saw torrential rains spoil the weekend. It could be warm and sunny, or cold and wet. Currently it is warm and sunny in the UK.

There has been very little rain in the build up to the event, unlike last year. The long range forecast for this weekend is for temperatures around 18 to 19 degrees, cloudy, but no rain forecast for race day.

Likely tyre performance and other considerations

Pirelli tyre choice for Silverstone: Medium (white markings) and hard (orange markings). This is a similar combination to what we saw at Malaysia, Bahrain and Spain.

Last year Pirelli brought soft and hard to Silverstone and the rain throughout the weekend made for a fascinating tactical battle on race day between Red Bull and Ferrari. Alonso went for the hard tyre at the start, Webber went for the soft and he caught and passed Alonso in the closing stages.

This year the medium and hard tyres have been selected. These required four stops in Barcelona, so it will be interesting to see how much progress the teams have made on tyre management since early May. Two to three stops is more likely here (see below)

The wear rate of the tyres at Silverstone is high because of the lateral loads through the high speed corners, like Copse and Abbey. The surface of the track is not particularly grippy or aggressive, unlike Barcelona, so this will lead to less tyre degradation.

Number and likely timing of pit stops

Because the new pit lane at Silverstone is quite long, a stop is relatively slow by F1 standards at 25 seconds total pit lane time. This encourages teams to do less, rather than more stops.

Early predictions, provided that the weekend is not too much affected by rain, show that two stops is a likely scenario with the first stop between laps 10 and 15 and the second between laps 29 and 35.

But the key will be the deployment of the medium and hard tyres. Medium will be the qualifying tyre, so the top ten will start the race on it. But the strategists will be looking for which tyre combination gives the fastest race over the 52 laps, as traffic should not be too much of a problem.

Chance of a safety car

Silverstone is a fast, open circuit with lots of run off areas. So for marshals it’s relatively safe to recover a broken car.

The chances of a safety car are 57%, with 0.6 safety cars per race.

Recent start performance

As far as 2013 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season, on aggregate, as follows –

Gained:


+12 Van der Garde*****



+9 Perez



+8 Gutierrez



+8 Sutil***



+7 Maldonado



+7 Massa




+4 Chilton



+4 Di Resta



+3 Button



+2 Pic


+1 Alonso



+1 Vettel



Held position:

Hulkenberg**


Lost:



-1 Rosberg


-1 Bianchi******


-4 Bottas



-4 Raikkonen



-5 Hamilton



-5 Webber*



-6 Ricciardo



-7 Grosjean


-9 Vergne ****



Pit Stop League Table

Of course good strategy planning also requires good pit stop execution by the mechanics and we have seen tyre stops carried out in less than two and a half seconds by F1 teams.

Here again McLaren leads the way. But it's very close with the top six teams separated by just six tenths of a second.

The league table below shows the order of the pit crews based on their fastest time in the Canadian Grand Prix, from the car entering the pit lane to leaving it.

1. McLaren 20.212 secs

2. Ferrari 20.372s

3. Mercedes 20.656s

4. Red Bull 20.716s

5. Toro Rosso 20.739s

6. Lotus 20.859s

7. Force India 21.000s

8. Sauber 21.014s

9. Marussia 21.374s

10. Williams 21.637s

11. Caterham 22.033s

The UBS Race Strategy Briefing is written by James Allen with input and data from several F1 team strategists and from Pirelli
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