2010 British GP preview For round ten of the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) Formula One World Championship all Formula One teams have traveled to Silverstone, the "Home of British Motor Racing", for this year's British Grand...
2010 British GP preview
For round ten of the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) Formula One World Championship all Formula One teams have traveled to Silverstone, the "Home of British Motor Racing", for this year's British Grand Prix. The circuit has been completely renewed, and works are on their way to build a complete new pits and paddock area, which will be completed before the British Grand Prix in 2011. The circuit has spent many millions of pounds to improve the spectator facilities. New grandstands have been build, older grandstands have been relocated and have also been elevated to offer spectators a better vantage point. A new Arena section has been added to the track, which starts at Abbey corner, and rejoins the old track at Brooklands again. The new section increases the length of the track by 759 meters.
Silverstone is a typical high-speed circuit, with very demanding fast sweeping corners and long straights where cars reach top speeds of over 310 km/h. Many drivers are looking forward to the new track layout, Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg about the circuit, "Silverstone is a great circuit and one of those tracks which provides a real challenge for you as a driver. I think every driver loves to race there. The layout is demanding with the very quick corners and it will be interesting to see the new changes in the Arena complex for this year. The atmosphere and the fans are always fantastic at Silverstone and it will be even better this year with our factories just down the road and the support of everyone at the team."
The FIA has appointed four stewards who will make up the F1 Stewards Panel for the race in Silverstone: Australian Gary Connelly and Swede Lars Osterlind will represent the FIA, Ron McCabe represents the hosting country Great Britain, and ex-Formula One driver Briton Nigel Mansell will represent the drivers.
Nigel Mansell will be back after his high-speed accident during the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where he suffered a concussion after his car spun and hit the guardrail on both sides of the track during the early stages of the race. The 56-year old Britain won the Formula One championship in 1992 and the US CART World Series in 1993, drove in Formula One for Lotus, Williams, Ferrari and McLaren, and in the CART Series for the famous American Newman- Haas team.
He participated in 191 Grands Prix, won 31 races, scored 42 podiums, 32 pole positions and 480 World Championship points. He won the British Grand Prix in 1986, 1987, 1991 and 1992. In the 1980s he was part of the fab-four (not the Beatles, but the four greatest F1 drivers of the 1980's), the other three drivers being Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Nelson Piquet. Mansell was elected BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1986 and 1992, and in 2005 he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Latest news ahead of Silverstone
Lotus is the first team who announced they will stop development on the 2010 car and will focus their attention on their 2011 contender. The team hopes to make another step forward with the updates they have for Silverstone. According to technical director Mike Gascoyne, the Lotus will have new lightweight parts that will help them to use the ballast more efficiently, which will give the drivers a better chance to optimize the car's balance and setup. Gascoyne about the teams choice, "We have the last major aero modifications of the season, including a new floor and various bodywork updates, and then the design team's attention turns to next year's car." Which also means they will not work on a blown rear wing or blown rear diffuser this year.
Williams hasn't decided whether they will run their blown diffuser at Silverstone, but they will test the new exhaust layout on Friday, and the result will determine whether they will use it during the race. Williams technical director Sam Michael, "We'll evaluate the exhaust during the practice sessions on Friday and will make a final decision as to whether we race it that night." Rubens Barrichello, who scored a fourth position in Valencia, is optimistic about the race in Silverstone, "Valencia was a good effort by the team. It was satisfying to see us move forward and I hope that we continue to do so. To help with that, we have more upgrades coming for Silverstone, which I hope will make the car go faster again."
Renault was very poised to retain the services of Robert Kubica, and Kubica has now signed a contract for 2011 and 2012. Renault was, and still is, very impressed by the 25-year old Pole, and team principal Eric Boullier is happy Kubica will stay with the team for two more years because Renault wants to win the title in the future, "To do so, we need a driver of Robert's caliber; somebody who is fast, totally committed and doesn't make mistakes.", Boullier commented in an official team statement.
McLaren has warned the FIA not to change the safety car regulations after the problems some teams encountered in Valencia. The discussion about the rules was fired up by Ferrari, who in a hot-headed reaction stated they had been 'robbed' by McLaren with the help of the FIA stewards, which is of course rubbish. McLaren's managing director Jonathan Neal about changing the rules, "If history's taught us anything in rule-making in Formula 1, it's that lurching from one thing to another doesn't pay off. The rules are there." And indeed, the rules are there, perhaps they need some fine- tuning, perhaps the penalties in Valencia were too mild, but as some Formula One pundits already pointed out after the Ferrari outburst: only sore losers want to change the rules.
And there is another championship going on, the soccer World Cup final in South Africa will kick off only a few hours after the end of the race, and Silverstone officials have decided to show the final on big screens after the race. And because the final will be decided between the best two teams who have never won the Cup, Spain and the Netherlands, the Spanish HRT team, and Spanish drivers Fernando Alonso, Jaime Algueruari and Pedro de la Rosa will certainly watch the final on the big screens, together with hundreds of other Formula One soccer fans.
Ferrari wants a victory before the summer break
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has admitted that winning a race before the summer break is very important if the team wants to remain in the race for the championship. Domenicali also told on the Ferrari website that development is now of great importance, "We believe that the rate of development will be the key to this year. We did quite a reasonable step in Valencia, and we'll do another one, maybe smaller for sure, at Silverstone. We're speaking about the front and rear wings. Then in Germany, a new package, in Hungary, a new package -- and then we will see." Although Ferrari is third in the Constructors' Championship and Alonso managed to score 98 points and is fifth in the Drivers' Championship, the Italian team has been struggling with the F10 all season.
Ferrari started the season well with a one-two victory during the first race in Bahrain, but after that the going got tough, the team made some mistakes during qualifying, which ruined their chances for the race. Alonso jumped the start during the Chinese Grand Prix, could not participate in qualifying in Monaco because he had damaged his car during Saturday's free practice, and therefore had to start from the back of the grid. Felipe Massa got involved in a few crashes like in Canada with Vitantonio Liuzzi, and to complete the misery, both Alonso and Massa were stuck behind the safety car before they could pit during the last race in Valencia, Alonso finished in 8th, and Massa in 11th position.
Alonso, however, remains optimistic about this weekend's race, "I think Silverstone will be a nice Grand Prix to race, it's always good to be racing in England, I think the people understand about Formula One, there is a big culture of Formula One there as well." And added, "I think we can do well, there is a new layout on the circuit, so there is a big challenge for the drivers and engineers to get ready for the new Silverstone, so let's go!"
Bridgestone tyre report
Bridgestone will bring the Soft and Hard tyre compounds to Silverstone, and the Japanese tyre company thinks the new circuit layout will be more punishing for the tyres, "The high speeds and high lateral forces caused by the circuit layout and the abrasion from the track surface mean that it will be a severe test for Bridgestone's tyres."
Hirohide Hamashima, "The track was previously one of the most severe for the tyres in terms of layout and circuit roughness on the calendar. The new layout, if anything, makes it more punishing, and certainly too severe to bring our super soft compound. The additional straight means that the average speed should be higher than before. Entering the new section, the right hand turn at Abbey should create high lateral forces. We are hopeful of a good spectacle with the soft and hard compound tyres and certainly will learn a lot from the new configuration."
BMW-Sauber wants to keep the momentum of Valencia
BMW-Sauber is looking for a repeat of their excellent performance in Valencia, and the team has planned a few update packages for Silverstone. According to technical director James Key the team is working hard to keep up the good results, "Valencia showed that the car works when it's in the right conditions. Silverstone should be better suited to our car -- it's mainly a mix of medium and high-speed corners, which our car is definitely well balanced for. Hockenheim might be a little less suited to our car than Silverstone." The private team are also splitting their resources, and apart from building upgrade kits for the C29, they are also working on the 2011 Sauber C30.
Kamui Kobayashi was the star of the race in Valencia, he opted not to change tyres during the safety car period during the early stages of the race, and lapped the circuit in third place until he, with only four laps to go, made his mandatory tyre stop. He joined the race in ninth position and overtook Alonso and Sebastien Buemi during the last lap. He later confessed he didn't even know it was the last lap, he was just concentrating on overtaking any car on front of him. The Japanese driver is optimistic ahead of Silverstone, "I have a very good feeling for the race in Silverstone. I like this track a lot and I'm looking forward to seeing the new parts. The high speed corners make it one of my favorite circuits. Also there is always a good crowd, and I think this time with their fellow countrymen leading the championship they will be very excited."
British fans hope for an all-British victory
An all-British victory seems closer than ever: two British top drivers, the present and past World Champions Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, who are also leading the Drivers' Championship, employed by a British top-team, McLaren, who is currently leading the Constructors' Championship. But like McLaren, Red Bull has also been fast on the high-speed circuits this season, but although it seems they have lost out on the long straights due to the McLaren F-Duct, they are still title contenders and Sebastian Vettel, who won the race last year, and Mark Webber will be the main opponents for both McLaren drivers.
Webber admitted the relationship with Vettel is still not optimal after both drivers crashed in Turkey. "If Seb's drowning in the ocean then I'll go and help him out. It's not easy to have a beautiful, fuzzy, warm relationship when your teammate is clearly a competitor", the Australian explained. Webber will be using Vettel's old chassis, Luscious Liz, after his chassis was badly damaged as a result of the crash in Valencia.
Hamilton, who won the race on a wet circuit in 2008, is determined to repeat his win, "I can tell that everybody is really fired up, particularly for this weekend, where we'll be performing in front of a home crowd, and all our friends and families." He also hailed the British spectators, "I know very well the effect of people-power around here -- in 2007, when I got pole position, I vividly remember driving around on my slowing-down lap and I could hear the noise of the crowd over the engine." Button, who is six points behind Hamilton, is a bit more cautious, "I have never been on the podium in the British Grand Prix. I am going to change that this year. I know this will be the best chance I have ever had of winning at Silverstone. This is the best car I've ever had for this race and I am going to take advantage of that."
Ex-Formula One Champion Damon Hill thinks the 'friendly' rivalry already displayed during the Turkish Grand Prix, will boil over at Silverstone, "Between the two British drivers in possibly the best car you will have a very close and fascinating battle. Your closest most significant competitor is your team-mate and when you've got a team-mate as good as Jenson then it's not a foregone conclusion. There is only room for one guy." Triple World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart said in an interview with the UK Sun, "It promises to be an epic battle between them. I don't know which way it will go but if they could get a one-two it would be absolutely enormous." And Stewarts prediction? "The British Grand Prix is always special -- but this one has the makings of a classic!"