Formula One returns home this weekend with the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, scene of the very first World Championship Grand Prix in 1950. It is the home race of eight out of twelve teams, as most Formula One factories are based in England.
Although this is a big weekend for Formula One, this week’s racing news has been dominated not by the British Grand Prix, but by Maria De Villota’s horrific accident that occurred during testing of the Marussia MR-01 on Tuesday. As a result of the crash, she has lost an eye and remains in critical condition in hospital. The thoughts of the racing community are with Maria, her family and the Marussia F1 team at this difficult time.
Who can challenge Alonso?
Fernando Alonso is obviously the form driver thus far this season. He has not had the quickest car, but is the only driver to win two races this season, and consequently leads the Drivers’ Championship.
Based on their form in the early part of the season, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are Alonso’s major title challengers, and they will be looking to take as many points away from the Spaniard as possible this weekend.
Pirelli are bringing their hard and soft compounds to Silverstone. The large gap between tyre compounds (the medium compound separates them) should result in a substantial performance gain on the softer rubber, perhaps as much as a second per lap. The setup challenge will be to generate enough energy to heat up the hard tyres but not so much that the soft tyres overheat.
With rain predicted, dry setup could become irrelevant, and the teams may choose to focus on wet weather setup instead.
Pirelli are bringing an experimental hard tyre for the teams to test during Friday practice. This allows the tyre manufacturer to evaluate the performance of the tyres on current cars. The rest of Pirelli’s track testing takes place on a car that is two years old, and therefore not current in terms of technical regulations.
The Silverstone track is likely to play to the strengths of McLaren and Red Bull – the teams with the strongest aero packages – due to the large number of high speed corners on the layout. However, Fernando Alonso is bullish ahead of the weekend, suggesting that the Ferrari F2012 could be in contention.
It looks likely that the race will take place in the rain, which throws the contest wide open. The teams are already so closely matched that rain can only disrupt the order. It does bear remembering that Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez were strong in rain-hit Malaysia, suggesting that Ferrari and Sauber could be strong this weekend.
Fernando Alonso has been a step ahead of the field in the early part of the season, which makes him the favourite for victory.
Circuit Length: 5.891 km
Race laps: 52
Race length: 306.198 km
Lap Record: 1:30.874 – Fernando Alonso / Ferrari (2010)
Race winner: Fernando Alonso / Ferrari
Pole position: Mark Webber / Red Bull – 1:30.399
Fastest lap: Fernando Alonso / Ferrari – 1:34.908
- Local hero Jim Clark won the British Grand Prix five times from only eight attempts between 1960 and 1967.
- The last driver to win back-to-back British Grands Prix was David Coulthard in 1999-2000.
- Only three of the last ten British Grands Prix have been won from pole position.
In true Silverstone fashion, rain is predicted for the entire weekend. Running is therefore likely to be limited in practice on Friday, unless there is a break in the weather that allows for some serious setup work.
The European Grand Prix is upon us! Read my preview at F1plus:
Formula One is in Montreal this weekend for the Canadian Grand Prix. Read my race preview at:
Kamui Kobayashi: “At the circuit in Montreal there are long straights but also slow corners. I think our car seems to be okay for this. I hope there we can have the performance we want to see. Last year I was second on the grid for the re-start after the red flag for the wet conditions, but then we suffered with tyre warm up problems and I am sure we have definitely improved on that with this year’s car. We shall have to see what we can do, but I think Montreal is one of the places where we can be strong. In case it is cold there, a key will be how the tyres work. I really like the city and the track, although, unfortunately, I have never had a great result there. This year I want to make up for this. Our car is getting better and I’m looking forward to the Canadian Grand Prix.”
Sergio Pérez: “It will be my first Canadian Grand Prix, as last year I only did a few laps in the first free practice before I realised I did not feel well enough to drive. I felt very dizzy in the car which was a consequence of last year’s Monaco accident. I think at times in recent races we have been very unlucky, but the pace is there as my lap times during the Monaco race clearly proved. I’m looking forward to doing a good job in Canada and scoring as many points as possible. It is a fast and fluid circuit on which you are often close to the wall – challenging and exciting.”
Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Head of Track Engineering: “The Montreal track is narrow with walls that are very close in some places. It offers interesting challenges. The first one is to find the right level of aerodynamic efficiency, because the level of downforce and drag is lower than on most of the other tracks. The time spent on the straights requires maximising the speed, while the corners, with the exception of the hairpin, are low speed and feature changes of direction. Therefore the car needs to be well balanced under braking, needs good traction and must be reactive. The next interesting challenge is the fact Pirelli has decided to provide us with the soft and the super soft tyre compounds as they did in Monaco. We don’t expect any problems with the super soft tyre in qualifying, but then the more difficult part will be to find the right race strategy to get the maximum out of the tyres. What’s different to last year is that there will only be one DRS zone. However, I don’t expect this to make a big difference, because overtaking is normally possible on the Montreal track. On the car we will have a new rear wing for the medium downforce requirement, plus some minor modifications.”
Pastor Maldonado: “We have been working very hard to improve the performance of the car and I can feel it getting better all the time. I am therefore hoping for a strong finish in Canada, a circuit which I really enjoy. It has a nice combination of corners with very high speed straights followed by slow speed chicanes, and the feeling of speed is increased by the closeness of the walls. There is a big DRS effect on the straights as well so we should see some overtaking this week.”
Bruno Senna: “Canada is one of the most challenging tracks of the season. It is a combination of a street circuit and a normal fixed circuit with a mixture of very fast, long straights and tight slow corners with heavy braking. It is also important to have as much track time as possible before the weekend to learn the track surface because it can evolve quickly. Our car is looking competitive at this stage of the season so hopefully we can show good pace here.”
Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer: “On the back of a mixed weekend in Monaco the whole team is looking to demonstrate further improvement in Montreal, with the aim of getting both cars home in the points. Montreal is a great race and usually full of drama with a very low pit lane loss which pushes the strategy towards having more stops. The high likelihood of a safety car deployment adds to this drama. The track layout is very hard on brakes and one must also ensure that the aerodynamic package has an appropriately high efficiency target. Pirelli bring to Montreal the same tyre compounds used in Monaco, namely the soft and super soft tyres. Weather wise we are expecting ambient temperatures into the high 20Cs with corresponding track temperatures in the high 30Cs, although there is a chance of rain throughout running.”
Rémi Taffin, Head of Renault Sport F1 Track Operations:” Canada is a completely different track to Monaco and also unique in itself. The long straights demand good top end power but the heavy braking zones of the hairpin and chicane need effective engine braking and good pick up on the exit, so it’s rightly called an ‘engine breaker’ because the engine doesn’t get any respite at all. The challenge is to find the right balance between delivering maximum performance and maintaining 100% reliability, just like at Spa and Monza where the risks have to justify the gains.”
Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director: “Montreal is a great place and a fantastic race track, which has thrown up more than its fair share of unpredictability and excitement in the past. We have the same nomination as for Monaco – P Zero Red supersoft and P Zero Yellow soft – but they will be used in a very different way, as Montreal is much faster and gives greater tyre degradation. So there will definitely be scope for a lot of strategy, with teams having the possibility to be quite inventive in their approach. The rear tyres in particular have plenty of work to do in Montreal, due to the heavy traction demands, so looking after those will be crucial.”