Prixview – British Grand Prix

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Round eleven brings F1 to its spiritual home of Silverstone in England for the 75th running of the British Grand Prix. Silverstone held the very first world championship race in 1950 and despite moving around England over the nine last decades the circuit has become the anchor for seven of the ten teams all based in the 50-mile‘ motorsport valley’ around the circuit.

Silverstone started life as an airfield during the second world war being leased by the RAC and BRDC in 1948 to create a circuit. The circuit today is still largely based on the runways and taxiways built during the war and has evolved into the modern circuit we see today was introduced in 1949 and until 2009 largely remained on the taxiways before the construction of the arena section between Abbey and Brooklands.

May 1950 saw the circuit cerement its place in F1 history when it held the first world championship race and the fifth round of the Grand Prix season. The race was dominated by Alfa Romeo with Giuseppe Farina winning with Alfa Romeo teammates Luigi Fagioli and Reg Parnell finishing on the podium.

Silverstone is an airfield circuit, which means unpredictable weather and wind can blow around the circuit. The long straights, largely based on taxiways, means drivers need high downforce and straight-line speed, the corners are quite open which creates opportunities for overtaking.

The circuit has been largely dominated by Mercedes in the hybrid era, however at last years 70th Anniversary Grand Prix it was Max Verstappen who took victory for Red Bull. The first time in the hybrid era that Mercedes have been beaten by any team at this circuit. However, you need to believe that this season there are a lot closer, I still think they could be close.

This weekends race sees a sellout crowd as fans return to sports venues for the first time since the start of the pandemic. This race is seen as one of F1’s ‘crown jewels it’s a circuit that challenges drivers with high-speed corners and long straights, it’s also for seven of the ten teams their home Grand Prix.

Its often said that British fans don’t support one team or driver, while Sir Lewis Hamilton, Lando Norris and George Russell, McLaren, Williams, Aston Martin, will get home support you will see all kinds of banners and drivers supported. This fifty-mile so-called motorsport valley will come alive, seven of the ten teams all based nearby.

The official trophy for winning the race is one of the most iconic, it’s an example of a Victorian, two-handled cup. It is thinly covered with hallmarked sterling silver leaf. The classical waisted urn-shaped body is decorated with eight lobes to its upper half, each hand engraved with floral designs.

The first Grand Prix was held in August 1926 at Brooklands and was won by Robert Sénéchal and Louis Wagner driving a Delage. The second Grand Prix of the RAC was also held at Brooklands, on 1 October 1927, and was again won by a Delage 15 S 8, this time driven by Robert Benoist.

Donington Park would become home to the race in the 1930s, the circuit however only would hold one world championship race in 1993. It was acquired by the MOD and remained in government hands until 1977, it went into administration after acquiring the rights to host the race from 2010.

Between 1955-62 the race alternated between Aintree and Silverstone, the Aintree Circuit was built within the horse racing circuit. The first race at Aintree, Mercedes drivers Juan Manuel Fangio and home favourite Stirling Moss arrived at Aintree expecting to win.

They took the lead at the start and the two drivers battled throughout, and Moss passed Fangio on the 26th lap, and he kept the lead for a while, but Fangio fought back and was about to pass Moss on the last corner on the last lap, and all were certain Fangio would pip Moss at the chequered flag.

Two years later Sir Stirling Moss became the first British driver to win the race, as well as a first of five home wins for Scotsman Jim Clark. He added more wins dominating in 1964 and 1967, before a battle between Chris Amon and Jo Siffert.

Sir Jackie Stewart took his first home win in 1969, and 1971 saw Stewart win again in a Tyrrell. 1973, however, saw a huge first lap accident at Woodcote that took out 11 cars, including all three works Surtees cars. Amazingly, there were no deaths or any fires and the worst news was that Andrea de Adamich received career-ending ankle injuries.

Since 1987, Silverstone has been the sole home of the race up until 2009 the circuit was run on what is now called the Bridge Grand Prix Circuit. All the different layouts largely followed the 1949 layout this remained in use until the construction between 2009-11 of the arena circuit.

The following five years saw domination by Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell, with their races becoming intertwined. Prost winning in 1989, Mansell finishing second. The 1990 Grand Prix was the last motor race on the high-speed circuit, and Mansell drove hard and led a lot of the race; but gearbox problems eventually forced him to retire, where he threw his gloves into the crowd and announced that he was going to retire.

Mansell would later go on to win the next two events, Damon Hill looked on course for victory in 1993 however it was Prost who took victory after an engine failure. Hill took victory in the following years race on a temporary layout following Senna and Roland Ratzenberger’s deaths at Imola.

Johnny Herbert took victory the following year, but in 1999 Michael Schumacher crash heavily at Stowe; he broke his leg, missed many races and this put him out of championship contention. There were attempts to bring the British GP back to Brands Hatch for 2002, but this never materialised.

The unpredictable weather is common, one of F1’s iconic races in 2008 saw Sir Lewis Hamilton pull off one of the best drives of his career in the wet building a minutes lead to take the victory. He has gone on to be the most successful driver, an eight-win this weekend would equal his joint record of eight wins at the same Grand Prix, shared with Budapest and Schumacher at Mangy-Cour.

However this year he knows that he doesn’t have the advantage he has had in the hybrid era, Max Verstappen and Red Bull looks to be able to match Mercedes at every circuit. Verstappen has taken victory in the Anniversary Grand Prix last year, he appears to have the momentum at the moment.

Facts and figures

Round 11 of 24
Race Formula 1 Pirelli British Grand Prix 2021
Venue Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone, Northamptonshire, England, United Kingdom
Configuration 2011 Arena Circuit
Circuit Length 5.891km (3.661 mi)
Laps 52
Race Distance 306.198 km (190.263 mi)
Lap Record Race 01:27.097 (Max Verstappen, Red Bull-Honda, 2020, F1)
Outright 01:24.303 (Sir Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 2020, F1)
Most wins drivers Sir Lewis Hamilton (7)
Most wins manufacture Ferrari (16)

Fast facts

  • The 1950 race is the only race to be attended by a reigning British monarch George VI and Queen Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother), Princess Margaret and Earl & Countess Mountbatten of Burma.
  • Informally the race is known as the ‘Mutton Grand Prix’ Maurice Geoghegan, and eleven other drivers raced over a 2-mile (3.2 km) circuit, during the course of which Geoghegan himself ran over a sheep that had wandered onto the airfield. The sheep was killed and the car written off,
  • The United Kingdom is made up of three constituent countries (England, Wales and Scotland) and one province/region (Northern Ireland). However, the British Grand Prix has always been held in England.
  • There is yet to be a British GP at Silverstone in which all of the top three on the grid finish the race in the same order.
  • As well as holding the record for most home wins, Sir Lewis Hamilton also holds the record for pole positions having passed Ayrton Senna last year

Event timetable

Session

Local

BST

Friday

P1 14:30-15:30
Qualifying 18:00-19:00

Saturday

P2 12:00
Sprint Qualifying 16:30-17:00

Sunday

Race 15:00

Format

  • Qualifying for the sprint race follows the format we are used to but will take place on Friday, with five cars knocked out in both Q1 and Q2 with the top ten going through to Q3.
  • The results of Friday qualifying sets the grid for Saturday’s race, however, the top ten will not need to start on the tyre they set their fastest time in Q2 on.
  • Sprint Qualifying will be a race run over 100km and lasting around 25-30 minutes. It is designed to provide a short and fast-paced racing spectacle with drivers racing flat-out from start to finish without the need to pit.
  • Points will be awarded to the top three finishers, three for the winner down to one point for third. There won’t be a podium ceremony, as that honour will remain the privilege of the top three in Sunday’s Grand Prix, however, the winner will get a trophy in Parc Ferme, presented similarly to the tyre the pole-sitter currently from F1’s tyre supplier Pirelli after qualifying now.
  • Going into the race the only change, the top ten will have a free choice of tyres and not start the race on the tyre they set their fastest time in Q2 or finished the Sprint Race on.
  • The teams will be given an extra set of intermediates if Friday is wet but must use them by the end of FP2 on Saturday.

What happened in 2020?

Going into the British Grand Prix Sergio Perez tested positive for coronavirus, he would miss both races at Silverstone and was replaced by Nico Hulkenberg. In qualifying it was again Mercedes who were dominant Sir Lewis Hamilton beating teammate Valtteri Bottas, who took pole despite spinning.

Max Verstappen admitted he could not get anywhere near the “way too fast” two Black Arrows as their pace was clear, the Red Bull was a second behind Hamilton While Lando Norris put his McLaren in fifth ahead of Lance Stroll, while George Russell made it through to Q2 once again for Williams.

Hamilton went on to build a nineteen-second lead before on his final lap his tyre failed as he crossed the line, he then pulled off one of the most incredible laps of his career. The Englishman keeping his Mercedes on the road limping home on three wheels to take a seventh win at Silverstone.

His teammate Bottas had already suffered his own failure, Mercedes decided to do over forty laps on the mediums after Daniil Kvyat crashed his Alpha Tauri through Maggots and Becketts on lap sixteen.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was third the Monacan once again not having the pace to challenge the Mercedes, the pace of the Mercedes was so quick that he remained thirty seconds off the pace despite the tyre failures. Leclerc passed Daniel Ricciardo in the closing stage to take fourth, which became third when Bottas’s tyre failed.

Russell had a strong race holding off the McLaren of Carlos Sainz in the closing stages of the race to finish twelfth. Meanwhile, Hulkenberg failed to start the race because of a power unit failure.

The following weekend, it was Bottas who took pole by six-hundredths ahead of Hamilton giving Mercedes a sixty-seventh front-row lockout. Following his failure to start the previous race, Hulkenberg put his Racing Point third his best qualifying since Interlagos in 2010.

Ferrari’s session was another difficult one, Charles Leclerc could only manage eight and Sebastian Vettel was only twelfth. The four-time champion was forced onto the soft tyres after being put in danger towards the end of Q2, but it wasn’t enough to get him out of the drop zone.

Verstappen took victory by eleven seconds after managing to undercut Hamilton. Mercedes had tried to get through the race by doing a one-stop race and trying to undercut the Red Bull. But, the heat proved to be too much for Mercedes as Red Bull got the tyres too work.

Verstappen ran a long on his first stint to set himself up for victory, despite dropping back following the pit stop but managed to pass Bottas for the lead. Hamilton meanwhile had to chase after before passing Leclerc. While Albon had a brilliant second home race, starting ninth he made several passes, including around the outside of Copse to pass Kimi Raikkonen and Lando Norris, to finish fifth following an early switch to hards.

British Race Result – 1) L.Hamilton, Mercedes, 01:28:01.283, 2) M. Verstappen, Red Bull – Honda +05.856, 3) C. Leclerc, Ferrari, +18.474
Anniversary Race Result – 1) M. Verstappen, Red Bull – Honda, 01:19:41.993, 2) L. Hamilton, Mercedes, +11.326, 3) V. Bottas, Mercedes, +19.231

What to watch for?

This race I think is an important one for the championship, Mercedes are on their longest winless run in the hybrid era and they need to start to cut the gap in the drivers and constructors championship. Silverstone is a high-speed circuit with fast flowing corners and long straights, meaning drivers need to find a rhythm and an old circuit means it’s not lined by huge tarmac run-off areas, its gravel and grass.

The weather can always be a bit unpredictable, but in recent years has proved to be stable, this is a former airfield meaning it can be windy. The trick is to get a setup somewhere between downforce and straight-line speed, it’s a challenging circuit but another one that the drivers love.

You need to believe that in the midfield it is Mclaren who has the momentum at the moment and I think this is another circuit where they could lead the midfield pack. But if there are no issues or mistakes from Red Bull or Mercedes it could be in a class of their own, I think it’s going to be difficult to have any of the midfield teams joining the top two.

McLaren’s battle I believe will be with Alpine and Alpha Tauri, we seeing Lando Norris having a stand out season. You need to believe that the Englishman looking at overall performance this season you need to say he is up there with Hamilton and Verstappen. I think it is likely, should things go well in the sprint race, he could be a problem for Mercedes and Red Bull if they manage to get into a good top three in the sprint race.

I think it will be interesting to see how the format shakes things up, I think that in FP1 on Friday, the sole focus will have to be on qualifying and FP2 on Saturday morning on the long runs for Sunday. The idea of the sprint race should be that teams will be free to run at full pace on one set of tyres and that should create opportunities to mix up the grid. But drivers need to be careful to avoid

2020 Race Data

P1 Fastest

P2 Fastest

P3 Fastest

Q1 Fastest

Q2 Fastest

Q3 Fastest

Race Time

Fastest Lap

ANI

01:26.166 01:25.606 01:26.621 01:26.738 01:25.785 01:25.154 01:19:41.993 01:28.451

Diff

+1.724 -1.668 +0.820 +0.937 +0.770 +0.851 -08:40.810

GBR

01:24.442 01:27.274 01:25.873 01:25.801 01:25.015 01:24.303 01:28:01.283 01:27.097

Tyres

White Hard (C1)

Yellow Medium (C2)

Red Soft (C3)

Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.