Silverstone success would bode well for Red Bull’s season

2012 British Grand Prix preview

Red Bull say they’ll be in a good position for the rest of the season if they are competitive at Silverstone.

But Ferrari also fancy their chances – and McLaren expect Red Bull won’t enjoy the performance advantage they had in Valencia.

The development competition runs the length of the field and Caterham have high hopes for this weekend, readying a “significant upgrade” for their CT01.

Silverstone circuit information

Lap length 5.891km (3.66 miles)
Distance 52 laps (306.3km/190.3 miles)
Lap record* 1’30.874 (Fernando Alonso, 2010)
Fastest lap 1’29.615 (Sebastian Vettel, 2010)
Tyres Hard and Soft

*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix

Silverstone track data in full

This weekend’s race will be the third at the remodelled Silverstone (the second with the new pits at start line).

It’s one of the longest-running venues on the calendar. Back in 1956 the race lasted almost three hours and covered 101 laps. Today the lap count is barely more than half that – just 52 – despite the track being little more than a kilometre longer.

Silverstone’s sequence of high-speed corners is well-liked by the drivers, so much so that new circuits like Austin have borrowed heavily from them. “It is one of those classic races that bring a smile to your face when you think of some of the corners,” said Nico Hulkenberg.

“I actually describe it as an ‘old-school’ circuit because it?s narrow and you have to be really committed and brave through the quick parts of the lap. It?s super-fast and great fun when you hook up the perfect lap.”

Felipe Massa added: “It is definitely one of the favourites, probably for 99% of the drivers, because it really flows and has some challenging high speed corners.”

Pirelli will supply their hard and soft tyres, as they did last year, though there are chances of a repeat of last year’s rain-hit weekend. The race began in damp conditions and the track was drenched on Friday.

One consequence of the changes made last year is that the time lost when making a pit stop is very low – so much so that last year stewards tended to issue stop-go penalties instead of drive-through penalties for incidents.

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Valencia, 2012Red Bull showed formidable pace in the opening stages of the European Grand Prix. But the cooler conditions and high-speed layout of Silverstone are a marked departure from Valencia’s high temperatures and slow corners. So will they be as quick?

Christian Horner believes that if they are, it will strength their championship position: “If we can be competitive at Silverstone as well as Valencia then that gives us a lot of optimism for the rest of the season.”

Red Bull’s form at Silverstone is excellent: three pole positions and two wins in the last three years, and a 2-3 podium finish in the one they didn’t win.

But that success has not come without some intra-team tensions. Mark Webber infamously declared his 2010 victory was “not bad for a number two driver” after being forced to surrender a front wing upgrade to his team mate. Last year the team ordered Webber not to try to to pass Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages – he ignored them, but was not successful in his efforts.

The RB8s will sport a different look this weekend as they will feature the pictures of thousands of fans in support of their Wings for Life charity, as they previously did in the 2007 race.

McLaren

Lewis Hamilton indicated McLaren should have an upgrade package for their home race, though it remains to be seen what they may bring.

Having had the car to beat in the opening races, McLaren find themselves increasingly under pressure from the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari.

But the MP4-27 has been quick on tracks with high-speed corners this year: notably at the Circuit de Catalunya, where Hamilton had more than half a second in hand in qualifying. And their pit stops have been getting quicker, though it remains to be seen if they can get through a race without spoiling at least one of them.

Ferrari

There’s an air of confidence at Ferrari heading into this weekend’s race. The revisions made to the F2012 in the last four races have clearly worked, and Fernando Alonso is leading the drivers’ championship by 20 points.

“Who knows, maybe Silverstone can be even better than expected for us,” said Massa. “But if you look at Valencia where we had 13 cars in three tenths in Q2, it shows you really cannot make predictions this season.

“However, we believe our car is not too bad in the high speed corners and so I feel we should discover a good F2012 when we start practice there on Friday.”

Mercedes

Both Mercedes drivers were making rapid gains in the closing stages at Valencia. Nico Rosberg has raked in most of their points so far but Michael Schumacher appeared to have turned a corner with the first podium finish since his comeback, which could make for an interesting competition between the two in the races to come.

Lotus

Potentially their best chance of a win so far slipped through their fingers at Valencia. The E20 seems to respond well to high track temperatures and abrasive track surfaces – Silverstone has more of the latter than the former.

How well they do on Sunday may ultimately be dictated by whether they can reduce the gap to the front row on Saturday. It will also be fascinating to see if the pendulum continues to swing from Kimi Raikkonen towards Romain Grosjean.

Force India

Paul di Resta, Force India, Valencia, 2012This year Force India are the tortoise to the hares of Sauber and Williams: the latter have the podium finishes but Force India’s steady points-hauling has kept them in contention in the championship.

For their first home race of the year (the factory is across the road from the track) they have their best chance of a strong result so far. Further upgrades are planned for the VJM05 which scored its best result of the year last time out in Hulkenberg’s hands.

Team mate Paul di Resta qualified a career-best sixth here last year and was running strongly until a problem in the pits scuppered his race.

Sauber

Both drivers are enthusiastic about Silverstone. Sergio Perez is targetting an improved qualifying performance having been in the lower reaches of Q2 in the last two races.

Toro Rosso

The team tested at Misano prior to this race. Daniel Ricciardo will be returning to the track where he made his F1 debut last year, while Jean-Eric Vergne needs a solid weekend after a poor outing in Valencia.

Williams

The last race was the usual 2012 story for Williams: Pastor Maldonado quick until he made a mistake, Bruno Senna off the pace. Surprisingly the latter has not raced at Silverstone in F1 before.

The team are hopeful that Silverstone will be a strong venue for them following Maldonado’s success at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Caterham

Vitaly Petrov, Caterham, Valencia, 2012Caterham are talking up their chances ahead of Silverstone in a big way. New performance director John Iley said they are bringing a “significant upgrade” including a revised floor and changes all over the car.

These should be available for both the CT01s, unlike the situation in Valencia where only Kovalainen was able to run the latest parts.

Iley says that upgrade was worth two to three tenths of a second and the latest should bring “significantly more”. Their aim is to get both cars into Q2.

HRT

Pedro de la Rosa is another driver who likes the track but is expecting a hard weekend: “It?s not the most favourable circuit for us so we?re going to have to grind our teeth because, apart from that, it?s also one of the toughest tracks for a driver.”

Marussia

Marussia were anticipating a step forward this weekend with a new aerodynamic package produced after some of their first work with a wind-tunnel.

But the dreadful accident suffered by Maria de Villota while testing the changes yesterday will surely cast a pall over their weekend.

2012 driver form

Q avg R avg R best R worst Classified Form guide
Sebastian Vettel 5.13 4.71 1 11 7/8 Form guide
Mark Webber 6.63 4.88 1 11 8/8 Form guide
Jenson Button 6.75 10.5 1 18 8/8 Form guide
Lewis Hamilton 5.25 6.25 1 19 8/8 Form guide
Fernando Alonso 7.38 4.13 1 9 8/8 Form guide
Felipe Massa 12 12 6 16 7/8 Form guide
Michael Schumacher 8.25 7.67 3 10 3/8 Form guide
Nico Rosberg 4.88 6.5 1 13 8/8 Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen 8.88 6.25 2 14 8/8 Form guide
Romain Grosjean 5.5 3.75 2 6 4/8 Form guide
Paul di Resta 12.25 9.25 6 14 8/8 Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg 12.25 10.14 5 15 7/8 Form guide
Kamui Kobayashi 10.38 8.6 5 13 5/8 Form guide
Sergio Perez 13.13 7.86 2 11 7/8 Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo 13.63 13 9 17 7/8 Form guide
Jean-Eric Vergne 16.38 12.57 8 16 7/8 Form guide
Pastor Maldonado 12.88 11 1 19 6/8 Form guide
Bruno Senna 14.5 12.57 6 22 7/8 Form guide
Heikki Kovalainen 18.25 17 13 23 7/8 Form guide
Vitaly Petrov 18.75 16.5 13 19 6/8 Form guide
Pedro de la Rosa 21.14 19.6 17 21 5/7 Form guide
Narain Karthikeyan 23.14 19.6 15 22 5/7 Form guide
Timo Glock 20.71 16.83 14 19 6/7 Form guide
Charles Pic 21.25 18 15 20 5/8 Form guide

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35 comments on Silverstone success would bode well for Red Bull’s season

  1. GeorgeTuk (@georgetuk) said on 4th July 2012, 13:34

    TBH I am a bit bored of McLaren over talking their chances recently.

    They turn up to every race pretty much saying they are going to win it even if they are off the pace. Was especially annoying last year.

    Yes I know they are a racing team but look at Ferrari this year, a bit of humility goes a long way.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 4th July 2012, 13:41

      I wouldn’t say McLaren are being arrogant. Just look at their results in the last four races: Hamilton was fast enough for pole in Barcelona until he was sent to the back of the grid; he was fifth in Monaco when the top six cars were running nose-to-tail for the last ten laps; he won in Canada; and he was in line for a podium in Valencia until he and Maldonado came together (and I think Red Bull’s sudden pace took everyone by surprise). So they’ve got the pace to be up the front – they just need to convert it into race results.

    • John H (@john-h) said on 4th July 2012, 13:46

      Just to stick up for McLaren here, I think the start of this season for Ferrari was pretty much like the start of 2009 for McLaren and I seem to remember them being pretty honest about how rubbish a car they had back then.

      In 2011 as I remember they usually mentioned that they have a chance of winning a race rather than they are going to win it (which would indeed sound arrogant).

      I will say that Ferrari’s honesty has been refreshing this year, but seriously though, lessons in humility from Ferrari just doesn’t sound right somehow!

    • Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 4th July 2012, 14:19

      Got to admire the amount of access McLaren give to the media, but I’m feeling a bit Whitmarshed-out at the moment, and the same goes for Christian Horner – they’re everywhere…

      I find Eric Boullier, Ross Brawn and Frank Williams more worth listening to when they have something to say.

      I guess the field will spread out compared to Valencia, as cars with not-so-good aero struggle in the longer, faster turns. I’ll be looking out for Force India (who did well last year, which must count for something) and seeing what Williams and Caterham can achieve.

  2. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 4th July 2012, 13:51

    Keith, I believe Webber’s “not bad for a number two driver” comment was in reply to his team radio informing him that Vettel had fought his way back up to seventh.

    With regard to the 2012 British Grand Prix, I’m expecting McLaren, Red Bull and Williams to be strong; the form of the others I dare not predict. As for specific drivers, it will be interesting to see whether Jenson Button can get some temperature into his tyres during the English summer. Also, I’m hoping Mark Webber can get back to Vettel’s level again, at a track suits him better than Valencia. He started the year so well, but I have the feeling that since Bahrain Vettel has been quicker in both qualifying and race, with the notable exception of Monaco qualifying of course.

  3. Tango (@tango) said on 4th July 2012, 14:18

    Grosjean has the best Racing average. Love this stat ! (Obviously, that’s when he does finish).

    • katederby (@katederby) said on 4th July 2012, 14:46

      I love the stats but out of interest why are the averages only based on races finished? I would like to see a comparison with stats for all races including DNFs.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th July 2012, 15:07

        @katederby The average race position excluding DNFs shows, among other things, where a driver is capable of finishing when they do finish. As @tango points out this tells us something useful – namely that Grosjean might be a lot higher up in the drivers’ championship if he hadn’t had a few prangs and an alternator failure.

        The number of non-finishes are also noted elsewhere in the table, so it’s not as if that data is omitted.

        No data is perfect and this approach is susceptible to problems arising from drivers retiring late in the race but still being classified, such as Lewis Hamilton in Valencia.

        However I still think this is preferable to what you’re suggesting. Why would including DNFs in the average race result be useful? And how do you propose doing it – for example, what value do you use for a driver’s finishing position when they haven’t finished?

        • katederby (@katederby) said on 4th July 2012, 15:31

          I’m not complaining, as I said I like the stats you produce and now you point out the practicalities of creating an average that includes DNFs it does make perfect sense. It certainly highlights Grosjean’s impressive form which gets a bit over looked in the mainstream F1 coverage. I suppose the only time it looks skewed is if the DNF is caused by the driver’s own error but again, as you said, how to indicate that in the average.

        • bag0 (@bag0) said on 4th July 2012, 16:17

          @keithcollantine

          what value do you use for a driver’s finishing position when they haven’t finished?

          Easy 25, even if they are classified. This way the race avg. would give a better indication of forms, you could not call it avg finishing position, maybe avg form, but does that really matter? Also if you dont call it avg finishing position, it wont be a problem if someone constantly finsihes 24th and have some DNFs. Ofcourse, this way you would almost get the championship standings, but I like the current sytem better. (Not arguing, nor complaining, just answering your question.)

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th July 2012, 16:26

            @bag0 I don’t agree it’s “easy” at all – what you’re talking about here is trying to use a single scale to reflect both performance and finishing rate when it makes far more sense to use two separate scales.

            A driver with a win and a DNF would have an ‘average finishing position’ of 13th which tells us nothing.

      • JCost (@jcost) said on 4th July 2012, 15:17

        Statistics are the best way to lie, you just need to set your frame right

        My former Economic of the Public Sector professor was used to say that.

  4. JCost (@jcost) said on 4th July 2012, 14:26

    I’m rooting for wet qualifying and race. I’m not talking about Malaysia wet, I want light rain.

  5. Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 4th July 2012, 14:43

    I for one hope Red Bull can maintain there momentum (literally) so that Vettel can regain some lost ground in the championship standings…

  6. Ribf1 (@) said on 4th July 2012, 18:54

    Victory for Mclaren this weekend

  7. Neel Jani (@neelv27) said on 4th July 2012, 20:02

    Ha! After last race weekend’s pitstop debacle, McLaren has changed it’s front jacks.

    http://www.formula1.com/gallery/race/2012/872/general/wednesday.html

  8. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 5th July 2012, 0:36

    I think it bodes well for any team who finds an advantage here. Ferrari, Red Bull and Mclaren seem to think their car will suit the track. I think Lewis is the favourite at this stage. We’ll see how the weekend goes.

  9. Kimi4WDC said on 5th July 2012, 4:55

    Come one Kimi, it’s time for one of your epic qualifying. Pole and win, thanks!

    I’m more then sure if no DNFs for McLaren and Lotus this weekend. McLaren will be loosing 2nd place in WCC standings.

  10. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 5th July 2012, 7:55

    Like the article says, Silverstone is of paramount importance to RBR. It gives them a chance to build on their performance from Valencia and I suspect they will. Their philosophy has usually favoured high-speed corners and I don’t think they have any peers in that department. Another home victory (following Alonso in Valencia) for McLaren or even a Williams would be good.

    Unfortunately I’m used to unsuccessful updates from Caterham, or rather updates that don’t do anything to.readdress the balance of the grid. However, I’m gonna say I’m confident for them this weekend. Webber’s DRS issue aside they still showed great pace.

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