Silverstone

A typical wet race at Silverstone in 2008, Photo by Ligreq

Silverstone is one of Formula One’s old circuits and it is built not near a city to bring in tourism but is purely a good circuit. The fact it used to be an airfield though, with the track based on access roads, means that it has several fast straights. It needs a fast car then but also a car stable through the switchback at Becketts and Maggots.

 

There have been so many classic races at Silverstone, 2008 perhaps the best in recent years: especially for the home fans. Hamilton finished first a minute and 8 seconds ahead of second placed Nick Heidfeld in the wet. Hamilton had made it from fourth to second at the start and nearly got clear past teammate Kovelainen; it didn’t take Hamilton too long to get back past though. This was also the race where Massa just couldn’t keep it on the track and span 5 times, a lot of other cars span as well mind you while Hamilton was faultless at the front.

 

1993 at Silverstone may be remembered for the battle between Senna, Prost and Schumacher and going further back Mansell won the British Grand Prix in 1986 at Brands Hatch and then in 1987 at Silverstone.  The 1987 race was especially good from a neutral’s point of view; despite a bad start Mansell fought back and set about catching teammate Piquet before making a classic overtake where he tricked Piquet into giving him the inside line.

 

silverstone-chicane

Lost to memory, the turbo era and a chicane before the start finish straight at Silverstone to slow things down, (1985) photo by Mick Dodsworth all rights reserved

1975 saw the rain come down on half the circuit and a half dozen or so cars going off into the catch fencing at the same place, Fittipaldi was one of the few to pit for wet weather tyres and when the race was stopped he was declared winner. The 1979 British Grand Prix is remembered for Williams first win by Clay Regazzoni.

 

The track:

 

Silverstone is far from being a few straights joined by unchallenging corners. From turn 10, Abbey, to turn 14, Luffield, you have a unique series of corner that are a little like two stretched chicanes but importantly there is space here. Cars get to Abbey at around 184 mph and come out of Luffield at about 154 mph still. In the grandstands in these sections are great places to watch the race and see what a Formula One Car can really do with a great setup.

 

There are a few chances to overtake at Silverstone but turn three is perhaps the best, this is part of the new section and the second real corner after the start. Slow turns 16 and 17 can be used to setup an overtake into turn 18 or even through them. The grandstand by turn 18 gives a good view down the start finish straight as well as across to turns 16 and 17.