It’s been a very long three weeks between Grands Prix, made longer still by the sport’s ham-fisted handling of ‘Testgate’.
But thankfully our eyes can now return to what really matters: racing. And there are few venues better equipped for a great event than Silverstone, which has been part of the Formula 1 circus – for the most part – since the very first World Championship season way back in 1950.
Let’s take a look at our 2013 British Grand Prix Preview…
2013 FORMULA 1 SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX
|Date:||28-30 June 2013|
|Race Lap Record:||1:34.661, Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus Renault E20) – 2012|
|Event Schedule:||Free Practice Session 1||Fri 10:00-11:30|
|Free Practice Session 2||Fri 14:00-15:30|
|Free Practice Session 3||Sat 11:00-12:00|
|Race (52 laps, 306.198km)||Sun 13:00-15:00|
|Past Ten Winners:||Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing Renault RB8)||2012|
|Fernando Alonso (Ferrari F150 Italia)||2011|
|Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing Renault RB6)||2010|
|Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing Renault RB5)||2009|
|Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes MP4-23)||2008|
|Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari F2007)||2007|
|Fernando Alonso (Renault R26)||2006|
|Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren Mercedes MP4-20)||2005|
|Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2004)||2004|
|Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari F2003-GA)||2003|
* All event times are quoted in GMT
Silverstone’s place on the F1 calendar is locked in for the long-term, and its ‘Arena’ layout has been in place since 2010, with last year’s being the second to have the start/finish straight and pits complex relocated to this new section of the former World War II airfield.
The circuit has always been a high-speed spectacle, with ferocious corners like Copse, the Becketts/Maggotts sweeps and Stowe laid out for drivers to navigate with a heavy right foot and plenty of bravery. But the problem with so few proper braking points was that overtaking had become too difficult.
So the British Racing Drivers’ Club – the circuit’s owners – came up with a new section featuring a new loop that incorporated a long straight and slower corners to encourage overtaking, and last year the paddock relocated to its glorious new pit complex on the straight after Club corner.
The track – in a multitude of configurations – has been a part of the Formula 1 landscape since 1950, although occasionally sharing hosting duties with Aintree and Brands Hatch.
British fans are a parochial bunch, and this was no more apparent than during the years of ‘Mansellmania’ in the 1980s and early 1990s, where the crowds swarmed the track to celebrate his wins in 1987, 1991 and 1992. Damon Hill took over the mantle in the mid-1990s, and now ‘Buttonmania’ and ‘Lewisteria’ are the latest crazes, with the fans cheering their homegrown heroes.
The track’s fast corners a serious test for drivers but there tends to be little in the way of serious carnage at Silverstone. However, the relocation of the start/finish straight to the other side of the circuit gave the potential for a little bit of argy-bargy between the drivers as they try to funnel their way through the opening sequence of slow corners on the first lap.
For more of our thoughts on the circuit, take a look at our Silverstone Circuit Track Guide:
Silverstone Talking Points
So what are this weekend’s critical talking points? Let’s see what our expert analysts have to say (although do note that the team’s comments were made before the news of Mark Webber’s retirement decision):
So what do the Richard’sF1.com readers and contributors think will happen this weekend?
“Well the talk of the town is Mercedes and ‘Testgate’, but I’m more interested in whether Ferrari can break the building momentum of Red Bull Racing! Mark Webber did take the top podium position here last year, will he be able to repeat it or will Alonso repeat his 2011 performance? If Webber can get the pole position, he might be able to clinch a three-in-four-years win… Also it’ll be interesting to see what updates Lotus bring to the track and whether that will help then recover and challenge the front runners again after a disappointing GP in Canada.” – Yassmin Abdel-Magied, RichardsF1.com Journalist
“The Silverstone Grand Prix circuit is the ultimate test for a Formula One machine. It is one of the most demanding tracks on the calendar, featuring an assortment of frighteningly fast corners integrated amongst slow, tight sections. When faced with daunting sweepers such as Stowe, Copse, Maggotts and Becketts, the confidence of a driver to keep his foot planted on the loud pedal will separate the contenders from the pretenders. There is absolutely nowhere to hide at the Northamptonshire based circuit, and if your car lacks comparative down force and grip, this weekend will be a long and arduous struggle. It’s interesting to note that the winning manufacturer in six of the past ten British Grands Prix (all hosted at Silverstone) has proceeded to win the Constructors’ Championship in that year. While it isn’t easy to predict a winner, the victorious manufacturer will almost certainly be at the pointy end of the Constructors’ standings at the end of the year.” – Tristan Clark, RichardsF1.com Journalist
“Over the past three years Red Bull and Ferrari have shared the spoils of victory, with Red Bull beating the Italian giants in two of the last three years. Sebastian Vettel claimed his first win for the senior Red Bull team in 2009, and the outfit utterly dominated proceedings in 2010 with Mark Webber claiming the spoils. Were it not for the sudden ban on off-throttle blown diffusers and a sprinkling of rain, the team would have won in 2011 – instead that went to Ferrari, with Fernando Alonso claiming the team’s only win of the year. A year on and it was Red Bull and Webber again, although his path to victory was rather more hard-fought. Will 2013 feature another battle between the two giants in Formula One? We’ll soon see.” – Sean Collins, RichardsF1.com Journalist
“The last two years have seen British Grand Prix ticket sales soar, yet we are just days away from this year’s race weekend and tickets are still widely available. Granted, the weather may be a factor considering last year’s washout and the forever rising ticket prices could also play their part but overall it is probably due to the fact that there is only a slight chance that there will be some homegrown talent on the podium. Out of all four British drivers, it’s Lewis Hamilton who holds the hopes of a nation on his shoulders. But with his car lacking serious race pace, fans may just have to accept it may not happen this year. But to true fans this will not matter. We’ll show our support of course, but we’ll be there to watch 22 beautiful cars racing on one of the best tracks in the world.” – Kerry French, RichardsF1.com Journalist
“Silverstone is a track Mark Webber has fond memories of. He has won there twice (2010, 2012), and he needs to add 2013 to that list if he wants to remain in contention for this year’s championship. Currently sitting in fifth position, Webber is 63 points adrift of teammate Sebastian Vettel with a best finish of second at the controversial Malaysian Grand Prix. Silverstone is a track well suited for the Red Bull RB9, with high speed corners like Maggotts and Becketts highlighting the downforce Adrian Newey sacrificed top speed for. So it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw another Vettel v Webber showdown. Although, as cliché as it sounds, you can never count out Alonso and Ferrari. Like Webber, Alonso has also won twice at Silverstone (2006, 2011) and with the constant threat of rain that looms over the British circuit, he could reduce the Championship margin to Vettel.” – Josh Kruse, RichardsF1.com Journalist
“After a three week break – somewhat rare for this time of the year – the focus will very much be back to racing after the well-documented tyre testing controversy. Mark Webber, driving one of the grid’s strongest cars, is again having a poor season and must be wondering whether he still wants to do this from next year. From seven races so far, Webber has no pole positions, no wins and only one fastest lap, and really needs to get his act together if he is to be anything more than another bit player. Fernando Alonso was firmly put in the shade by his main rival Sebastian Vettel last time out in Canada, and will want to rebound quickly. Vettel now has a lead in the Drivers’ Championship of more than one victory and the rest of the field will want to reel him in before he gets too far ahead and makes a serious challenge at the title an insurmountable task for everyone else.” – Matt Lennon, RichardsF1.com IndyCar Series Journalist
“Another three-week break has flown by and it’s time to head back to Europe for the British Grand Prix! As an Aussie it’s always good to watch this race because I consider it the ‘home race Mark Webber does well at’. And in 2013, he needs to do well to not only keep his Championship hopes alive, but also keep his seat at Red Bull alive for 2014 as well. The cars from Milton Keynes have won three of the last four at Silverstone, so you would be pretty stupid to bet against them again this weekend. And although I like to give a ‘kiss of death’ to a driver when I say ‘THEY WILL WIN’, I’m going to go out on a very small limb and hope for the best in saying that ‘Aussie Grit’ himself will walk away with that golden trophy come Sunday evening Aussie time. We can’t slip over when it’s against the Brits two weekends in a row right?” – Ben Waterworth, The Qualifying Lap radio show host
The Form Guide
Heading into this weekend, Sebastian Vettel holds a healthy 36-point advantage over his nearest rivals in the championship standings, which means that regardless of what happens on Sunday, he’ll still be on top of the leaderboard when the field regroups in Germany in a week’s time.
Can he win for a second time at Silverstone? Undoubtedly. The circuit’s flowing nature suits the traditional handling strengths of the Red Bull RB9, and if he shows the kind of tyre management that he demonstrated with his rather unexpected success last time out in Canada, then it’s difficult to see how anyone else could get a look-in.
The German’s closest rival should actually come from the other side of the Milton Keynes team’s garage. Two of the last three Grands Prix here have been won by Mark Webber, and with the Australian announcing that he will quit F1 and head to the World Endurance Championship next year, the grid’s oldest driver will be more motivated than ever to vanquish the demons of the ugly ‘Multi 21’ affair at Malaysia.
Unless some rain strikes, the only other serious challenger for victory this weekend is Fernando Alonso, which is still showing great form, although he’s progressively getting hamstrung by the limitations of his car. By all estimations, the Ferrari is about two-tenths of a second per lap slower than the Red Bulls, and that could be stretched further given the very aero-dependent nature of the Silverstone circuit and the RB9’s inherent strengths.
Local fans’ hopes can really only be pinned to Lewis Hamilton, who represents the best chance of God save The Queen being played on the podium come Sunday afternoon. Like Montreal, Silverstone is another unique circuit in terms of the demands it places on the car, and it will be interesting to see if he can be as competitive as he was last time out in Canada. If he can, then it bodes well for the team’s hopes for the rest of the season, given their well-documented early-year tyre woes.
Fellow-Brit Jenson Button will also be cheered on by his army of fans, but the best that the McLaren driver can really hope for this weekend is a top-six finish, and on the team’s current form even that looks like a stretch. The evil MP4-28 lacks pace and downforce, and it could be found seriously wanting around the Silverstone sweeps.
McLaren’s woes have very much been to Force India’s benefit, with the Silverstone team on a high heading into one of its two ‘home’ events after a double-points finish last time out in Canada. The team sits 14 points ahead of McLaren in their battle for fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship, having consistently shown that its car is one of the few designs to have gotten to grips (no pun intended) with this year’s Pirelli tyres. Expect big showings from Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil this weekend; they’re my tip to spring a surprise result this weekend.
One spot ahead of the team in the points’ race, Lotus has fallen off the pace at recent Grands Prix. This weekend will be critical to regain momentum for the Enstone team, and for Kimi Räikkönen in particular. The Finn’s year started so strongly with that excellent win in Australia, but the team hasn’t been able to keep the resurgent Red Bulls, Ferraris and Mercedes entries at bay. Räikkönen now sits the equivalent of three race wins (75 points) adrift of Vettel in the championship standings. The team is bringing a host of upgrades to try out on its E22 challenger, and no doubt there will be high hopes that they yield some extra pace.
Don’t forget to enter your F1 Predictions!
This weekend’s round of our 2013 RichardsF1.com F1 Predictions Competition is now open for business, and you can enter and edit your predictions for the 2013 British Formula 1 Grand Prix right up until five minutes before qualifying!
Entry is open to all of our readers, and it’s so easy to submit your predictions! All you’ll need to do is correctly guess:
- which driver will win pole position and the race
- which two teams will earn the best finishes in the race
- which eight drivers will finish in the top-eight positions
- who will post the fastest lap of the race
- who will gain the most positions relative to their starting position
You can also choose to ‘double up’ your points tally for the British Grand Prix – but be careful, you can only do this twice per season!
To view the current points standings, click here.
To enter your 2013 British Grand Prix Predictions, click here.
As always, RichardsF1.com will be bringing you the best of the on- and off-track action this weekend, so make sure we’re your first port of call for your British Grand Prix fix!