Brands Hatch, situated in south-east England, has a long history as one of the UK's leading motorsport venues. The site was first used in 1926 by cyclists who were drawn to the mushroom field, as it was back then, due to its natural bowl shape.
Brands Hatch, situated in south-east England, has a long history as one of the UK's leading motorsport venues.
The site was first used in 1926 by cyclists who were drawn to the mushroom field, as it was back then, due to its natural bowl shape. The venue gradually increased in popularity and by 1947 national motorcycle events were being broadcast by the BBC from there.
Car racing first took place in 1950 when a one mile oval anti-clockwise tarmac track was laid down. The first race was a Formula Three race and, over the next few years, legends of motorsport such as Graham Hill, Stirling Moss and John Surtees worked their way up through the lower formulae there.
In 1954 the circuit underwent a major transformation and formed the basis for what is there today. The direction of the track was switch to clockwise, the track was widened, and Paddock Hill bend, the plunging right-hander after the pit straight, was formed.
The full Grand Prix circuit was opened in 1960 and Jack Brabham won the first ever race to be held there. Four years later the circuit hosted its first Formula One World Championship event, which was won by Jim Clark. The circuit then alternated hosting the British round with Silverstone until 1986. In 1978 Brands Hatch held the British round of the USAC Championship Car Series on the Indy circuit which was won by Rick Mears.
Brands Hatch consists of two circuits used regularly for race meetings. There is the 1.226 mile (1.973 km) Indy circuit which is being used for today's Champ Car race and then full 2.623 mile Grand Prix circuit which is used for some Touring Car and motorbike races.
The pit straight is a long slightly uphill climb with several lines available for drivers. Darren Manning, who had a vast amount of experience here, prefers to drive close to the pit wall before pulling over to the left at the last-minute.
Turn 1, known as Paddock Hill Bend, is a daunting corner. It is a long sweeping right-hander that drops sharply into a dip before rising again on the exit. There is a forgiving tarmac run-off area at the entry but a gravel trap outside the exit of the corner, the point where Bourdais ran out of road during qualifying.
The track then continues up Hailwood Hill, a long and steep climb, towards Druids Bend. Druids is a tight right-hand hairpin and has seen a lot of action during the meeting so far. Many drivers have tried braking late and have run wide loosing several tenths of seconds. Some drivers, such as Alex Yoong and Rodolfo Lavin, have pushed too hard and spun off.
Turn 3 is called Graham Hill bend and is a quite a tight left-hander with a kerb on the apex which drivers cut across and then a forgiving kerb on the exit allowing the drivers to run wide slightly.
The cars continue along the short flat Cooper straight before entering the left-right kink. The left section of this is called Surtees and then the drivers immediately turn right into a corner called McLaren -- this is the short section of track that cuts across the entrance and exit of the section known as the "Grand Prix loop", the forest section of the Grand Prix circuit which is not being used today. The Surteers/McLaren section has caught out several drivers this weekend, most notably Adrian Fernandez who was experimenting with the kerbs a little too much on the opening day and badly damaged his car in the barriers.
The final corner is called Clark Curve which is a fast downhill right-hander that leads on to the pit straight. This corner does not usually cause many problems for the lower formula drivers, but several Champ Car drivers have been caught out and spun under acceleration at the exit of Clark Curve.
The drivers then continue downhill into another dip before rising again to cross the start-finish line to complete the lap. Today's race will consist of 165 laps around this Indy circuit and the fastest lap times so far have been just shy of 37 seconds.