2014 British Grand Prix preview
The gripping duel between the two Mercedes team mates for this year’s world championship has ebbed and flowed over eight races, with Nico Rosberg holding a 29-point advantage heading into the halfway point of the season.
Over the next two race weekends, the fight between the two championship protagonists will take on an interesting new dynamic as Rosberg and Hamilton take turns to do battle in front of their home supporters.
And this weekend, it is Hamilton who will head into a race knowing that he is likely to be the firm crowd favourite as he looks to win his home grand prix for only the second time in his career – something that could provide a crucial shift in the momentum of this year’s championship battle.
The site of the first ever world championship grand prix in 1950, Silverstone is as historic, as fast and as loved as any of the tracks on the F1 calendar. This year, Silverstone will play host to a Grand Prix for the 50th time – 48 of which were official rounds of the world championship.
With the second-highest average speed of any Formula 1 circuit next to Monza, Silverstone is fast, flowing and provides a challenge that drivers relish. Following on from three consecutive traction-dependant circuits, Silverstone brings aerodynamic efficiency and downforce firmly to the forefront once more.
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||1’29.607 (Lewis Hamilton, 2013)|
|Tyres||Hard and Medium|
*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix
The famous Maggots, Becketts and Chapel sequence is still one of the greatest sections of any track – generating major G-forces – while the relatively new Abbey/Farm high-speed sweepers at the beginning of the lap more than make up for the loss of the old Bridge corner.
Overtaking is possible into all of the main braking areas on the circuit and even into Copse corner on occasion. With the race held at the height of the British summer, the ever-present threat of rain will keep both drivers and teams on high alert.
The high-speed corner loading around Silverstone means tyre wear is slightly above average – although hopefully tyres will not be as much of a talking point this weekend as they were here in 2013, when the race was marred by a series of sudden and dramatic tyre failures.
In an important moment for Formula One, this weekend will also mark the first time in over 20 years that a female driver will participate in an official grand prix event, as Williams’ development driver Susie Wolff will get the opportunity to drive the FW36 during Friday morning practice.
British Grand Prix team-by-team preview
After the highs of an unexpected victory in Canada, Red Bull were brought straight back to Earth at their home circuit with their worst weekend since Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification in Melbourne.
But with emphasis at Silverstone on aero rather than traction, Red Bull will likely prove more of a threat here than they did at their very own track.
Once again, Sebastian Vettel’s Austrian Grand Prix weekend was ruined by mechanical issues entirely out of his control. After retiring from the lead due to a gearbox failure here last year, he is surely due some respite.
Rosberg’s third win of the season in Austria helped him to extend his championship advantage to 29 points, meaning that regardless of what happens this weekend, he will head to Hockenheim as championship leader.
Hamilton lost a likely win here last year after becoming the first victim of the spate of tyre failures that marred the race. But he can expect the full backing of the crowd has he bids to win his home race for the second time.
While Mercedes remain a German outfit, it’s easy to forget that the team’s headquarters lie a mere ten minutes up the road from the Silverstone circuit, making this the first of two consecutive home grands prix for the Silver Arrows.
Both of Ferrari’s world champion drivers may be former race winners here at Silverstone, but that fact is unlikely to help the team come any closer to challenging for a podium on sheer pace this weekend.
While Fernando Alonso has only finished lower than sixth once this season, Kimi Raikkonen has failed to finish higher than seventh at any point in 2014 – a statistic he will be hoping to change around a circuit he enjoys.
“I like coming to this track, even if I preferred the old layout,” he said Raikkonen. “I especially enjoy what used to be the first corner, Copse.”
After a difficult few rounds for Lotus, the team head to Silverstone confident that the track’s high-speed, aero-dependant characteristics should suit their package much better.
Lotus will bring updates to the front wing and the floor of the E22 as well as other aerodynamic areas in a hope to record only their third points finish of the season.
McLaren may have plenty of home support at Silverstone this weekend, but by the team’s own admission it’s likely to prove a difficult home race as the MP4-29 isn’t well suited to high-speed circuit with long corners.
Jenson Button arrives at the circuit with his recent public criticism from Ron Dennis ringing in his hears. He responded to suggestions he should be beating his rookie team mate more consistently today by saying “we all need to work harder as a team – I don’t think we should be pointing the finger at any individual”.
The team’s factory is located, quite literally, across the road from the Silverstone circuit. And things are looking up for them after their strongest ever start to a season.
After the disappointment and frustration of Canada, Sergio Perez bounced back with a strong Austrian Grand Prix performance to jump from 15th to sixth over the course of the race, helping the team hold on to fourth in the constructors’ championship.
Nico Hulkenberg, meanwhile, may have been disappointed with his result in Austria, but extended his run of consecutive points finishes to ten.
The return to a well-known track sees several teams running Friday test drivers. Force are are first among them, with 2012 European Formula Three champion and reserve driver Daniel Juncadella making his debut participation in a grand prix.
Sauber continue to struggle to make ground and are hoping their upgrades to the C33’s front underbody may help them get on terms with the rest of the midfield.
Fresh from a weekend in his native Russia performing a demonstration run at the Moscow Raceway, Daniil Kvyat is looking forward to racing at a circuit not too far from his home.
“It’s a bit of a home race for me as I have a flat in Milton Keynes, which is where I spend most of my time,” he said. “We will be trying to make the most of any opportunity.”
After showing such promise in pre-season, it took until the eighth race of the season for Williams to deliver the type of performance that the FW36 looked capable of. A front-row lock-out in Austria followed by a first podium finish for Valtteri Bottas will have come as a relief to Williams after the team failed to capitalise on earlier opportunities in the season.
Williams will be looking to consolidate their status as ‘best-of-the-rest’ at Silverstone, while Felipe Massa will be celebrating his 200th grand prix start this weekend. Taking his first podium finish in over a year would be a fine way to do that.
After three years as a development driver for the Williams team, Susie Wolff gets her first opportunity to have a run in an official practice session this weekend, becoming the first female driver in over 20 years to take part in a grand prix weekend – that last was Giovanna Amati for Brabham in the 1992 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Despite taking their first points in Monaco, Marussia have remained in relative limbo at the back of the grid, ahead of Caterham, but unable to match the Saubers or Lotuses ahead.
However team principal John Booth is relishing the return to home ground: “Silverstone is of course in our own backyard and it provides a rare opportunity for all our staff members to get a little bit closer to the action and to see the product of their hard work performing right in front of them.”
Caterham head to their home race under new ownership, Tony Fernandes having now officially sold the team to a consortium of investors. But while Caterham may be under new management, the team retain their significant performance deficit and will likely act as the backmarkers once more this weekend.
Robin Frijns will replace Kamui Kobayashi during first practice, making his first appearance at a grand prix weekend since Bahrain.
2014 driver form
|Driver||G avg||R avg||R best||R worst||Classified||Form guide|
|Sebastian Vettel||7.63||4.20||3||6||5/8||Form guide|
|Daniel Ricciardo||4.88||3.83||1||8||6/8||Form guide|
|Lewis Hamilton||2.38||1.33||1||2||6/8||Form guide|
|Nico Rosberg||2.25||1.63||1||2||8/8||Form guide|
|Fernando Alonso||5.75||5.13||3||9||8/8||Form guide|
|Kimi Raikkonen||7.88||9.50||7||12||8/8||Form guide|
|Romain Grosjean||14.50||10.60||8||14||5/8||Form guide|
|Pastor Maldonado||17.75||13.75||12||15||4/8||Form guide|
|Jenson Button||9.75||8.63||3||17||8/8||Form guide|
|Kevin Magnussen||9.38||8.86||2||13||7/8||Form guide|
|Nico Hulkenberg||9.38||6.38||5||10||8/8||Form guide|
|Sergio Perez||12.38||8.00||3||11||6/7||Form guide|
|Adrian Sutil||16.50||13.50||11||17||4/8||Form guide|
|Esteban Gutierrez||16.88||15.40||12||19||5/8||Form guide|
|Jean-Eric Vergne||11.13||9.33||8||12||3/8||Form guide|
|Daniil Kvyat||10.88||10.80||9||14||5/8||Form guide|
|Felipe Massa||8.25||9.29||4||15||7/8||Form guide|
|Valtteri Bottas||8.25||6.14||3||8||7/8||Form guide|
|Jules Bianchi||18.88||15.00||9||18||5/8||Form guide|
|Max Chilton||19.38||15.71||13||19||7/8||Form guide|
|Kamui Kobayashi||18.75||15.00||13||18||5/8||Form guide|
|Marcus Ericsson||20.25||16.60||11||20||5/8||Form guide|
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2014 British Grand Prix
- Bottas wins second Driver of the Weekend in a row
- Silverstone’s 50th grand prix proves a fine vintage
- 2014 British Grand Prix team radio transcript
- 2014 British Grand Prix fans’ video gallery
- Top ten pictures from the 2014 British Grand Prix
Image © Daimler/Hoch Zwei, McLaren/Hoch Zwei, Williams/LAT