Start, Silverstone, 2014

How Silverstone can breathe life back into F1

2015 British Grand Prix preview

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Start, Silverstone, 2014Formula One is not enjoying a vintage year.

A succession of underwhelming races featuring little contest for the podium positions has dampened enthusiasm for the championship. And off the track matters are worse.

In the days running up to the British Grand Prix the official Formula One website carried yet another broadside against the sport from Bernie Ecclestone, who branded its current engine formula “stupid”.

This came mere days after FIA president Jean Todt urged Ecclestone to be less negative about F1. With the sport’s commercial rights holder lambasting his own product, how can anyone else be expected to give positive messages about it?

Happily, F1’s beleaguered public profile looks set for a much-needed boost this weekend at Silverstone, where a bumper crowd of 140,000 is expected. Many will arrive hoping to see Lewis Hamilton add a third victory to follow his 2008 and 2014 triumphs.

But whatever the result, F1 fever is unlikely to be in short supply come Sunday. With three drivers plus seven of the ten teams counting this as a home event, it’s not just Hamilton who will have the crowd behind him.

Track data: Silverstone

Lap length5.891km (3.66 miles)
Grand prix distance306.332km (190.346 miles)
Lap record (in a race)1’30.874 (Fernando Alonso, 2010)
Fastest lap (any session)1’29.607 (Lewis Hamilton, 2013, qualifying three)
Tyre comoundsHard and Medium
2014 Rate the Race7.85/10
2014 Driver of the WeekendValtteri Bottas

*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix

Silverstone track data in full

Since the last British Grand Prix a new management regime has been installed at Silverstone, one which has placed a focus on improving the affordability of the race. At a time when Germany is without a race and Italy’s is under threat, Silverstone enjoys the stability of an unprecedented 17-year contract agreed at the end of 2009.

Silverstone’s layout has evolved many times since it held the first ever world championship race 65 years ago. Its latest iteration features a winning balance of eye-popping high-speed corners, plus straights which offer overtaking opportunities.

Perhaps most encouragingly, while the soft and super-soft Pirelli tyres used in the last three races were very much on the conservative side, the medium and hard compounds being used this weekend contributed to the best race of the season so far in Malaysia.

British Grand Prix team-by-team preview

Mercedes

While recent races may not have impressed, the drivers’ championship battle is closer now than it was 12 months ago. Austria was one of Nico Rosberg’s most convincing displays yet: he was clearly quicker than Hamilton, and despite being beaten to pole position he got ahead of his team mate at the start and stayed there.

If Rosberg’s going to beat Hamilton to the title this year, he’ll need to produce more performances like that. A morale-boosting home race will be timely for the championship leader, who has lost points to his team mate in three of the last four races.

Red Bull

‘Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser’ appears to be the Red Bull mantra these days. Stuck with an uncompetitive engine – albeit one which Toro Rosso beat them with in Austria – the team’s management used their home race to lobby again for changes to F1 and make further threats about leaving.

The team can at least reconcile themselves with the knowledge they’ll have a few corners to get their teeth into this weekend. However the chances of a podium finish, much less a win, still seem remote.

Williams

Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Silverstone, 2014With podium finishes in the last two races and a substantial aerodynamic upgrade in Austria, Williams has regained some momentum following its somewhat disappointing start to the year. Problems at Ferrari have played into their hands, however, and it remains to be seen if either of their drivers can beat the red cars ‘on merit’.

Valtteri Bottas was in superb form at this race last year, recovering from a surprise exit in Q1 to bring his car home in second place.

Ferrari

There is much hope invested in Ferrari’s ability to take the fight to Mercedes but in the last two races they’ve had pretty much the full gamut of problems: technical, operational and driver error.

Despite that they’ve shown some pace, and not just in practice. Vettel’s second stint in Austria on the soft tyres was strong even accounting for the fact the Mercedes drivers were no long flat-out. And with high temperatures forecast for Silverstone, Ferrari may have a chance of repeating their 2015 peaks from Malaysia and Bahrain.

However Kimi Raikkonen has become a focus of attention for all the wrong reasons. Austria was a poor weekend for him by anyone’s standards, and a question mark hangs over his place in the team next year.

McLaren

It seems increasingly likely the only achievement McLaren will record in their first season reunited with Honda will be taking more grid place penalties than anyone in the history of the sport.

Fernando Alonso’s promising post-Austrian Grand Prix test, in which he racked up over 100 laps, showed the team is making progress in this area. However damage sustained in his first-lap crash with Raikkonen may mean his weekend is compromised by more penalties.

Force India

It may have taken a while to arrive, but there could be no better place for Force India to give their heavily revised VJM08 its race debut as their factory is based opposite the Silverstone circuit.

Austria was their best race weekend of the year so far, with a rejuvenated Nico Hulkenberg taking sixth place which moved them up to fifth in the championship ahead of Lotus. If the new car delivers the goods and they hold on to that position, it would be their best ever constructors’ championship result.

Toro Rosso

For the second race running, Max Verstappen is driving at a track he has prior experience of. He held the upper hand over team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr in Austria, but the latter’s race was spoiled by a technical problem. This remains one of the most absorbing intra-team contests in F1 at the moment.

Lotus

While the Lotus E23 is clearly a major step forward over its predecessor in terms of performance, reliability remains a weakness. More points were lost in Austria where Grosjean suffered two separate and unrelated gearbox problems: one in Q3 and the other in the race.

As usual Jolyon Palmer will be in Grosjean’s car during first practice.

Sauber

If McLaren’s Austrian Grand Prix was conspicuously disastrous then Sauber’s was quietly terrible. At a track where the car had obvious pace – Felipe Nasr was eighth on the grid – brake and power unit problems left both drivers out of the points.

Raffaele Marciello will return for the team during practice.

Manor

Will Stevens, Roberto Merhi, Manor, Red Bull Ring, 2015Will Stevens will race in his first home grand prix this weekend after his Austrian outing was wrecked by debris. Roberto Merhi has been a much greater threat in recent races, however.

2015 driver form

DriverG avgR avgR bestR worstClassifiedForm guide
Lewis Hamilton1.131.63138/8Form guide
Nico Rosberg2.131.88138/8Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo8.138.255138/8Form guide
Daniil Kvyat10.258.834126/7Form guide
Felipe Massa7.506.883158/8Form guide
Valtteri Bottas6.755.863147/8Form guide
Sebastian Vettel4.753.25158/8Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen7.004.17266/8Form guide
Fernando Alonso15.4311.5011122/7Form guide
Jenson Button16.7512.258164/7Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg11.2510.576157/8Form guide
Sergio Perez12.7510.257138/8Form guide
Max Verstappen10.7511.607175/8Form guide
Carlos Sainz Jnr11.6310.178136/8Form guide
Romain Grosjean9.509.177126/8Form guide
Pastor Maldonado10.509.677153/8Form guide
Marcus Ericsson12.8812.298147/8Form guide
Felipe Nasr12.2510.635168/8Form guide
Will Stevens18.2916.4015175/6Form guide
Roberto Merhi18.4316.0014186/7Form guide
Kevin Magnussen17.000/0Form guide

Are you going to the British Grand Prix?

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Over to you

Who do you think will be the team to beat in the British Grand Prix? Have your say below.

And don’t forget to enter your predictions for this weekend’s race. You can edit your predictions until the start of qualifying:

2015 British Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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27 comments on “How Silverstone can breathe life back into F1”

  1. I think despite whatever Kimi does this season they have to replace him. It is time to rejuvenate the team and bring a talent of the future in at Ferrari. Arrivabene has done a lot of things ‘the-not-Ferrari-way’ en he has to continue doing so. Now is the time to give youngsters a learning as winning is out of the question with Mercedes dominating, and when it is possible Vettel will surely do so as he is still the benchmark for many drivers. They should just bring in someone who can be quick, is consistent, reliable and going to stay for a better part of a decade next to Vettel, also somebody who is ready to take over the torch when Vettel retires.

    1. Only problem with that is finding someone who is “going to stay for a better part of a decade next to Vettel” and “ready to take over the torch when Vettel retires”. None of the replacements mentioned until now is younger than Vettel by much.
      Hulk: 27
      Bottas: 25
      Ricciardo: 25
      SebVet: 27
      They already brought someone young and fast to rejuvenate the team, and he is called Sebastian Vettel. But, of course he needs Barrichello to his Schumacher, Massa to his Alonso, Webber to his Vettel etc etc.

      1. @kanan
        Ricciardo to his…oh wait.

    2. Evil Homer (@)
      1st July 2015, 13:29

      Agreed that Kimi should go- and that’s a shame! He was too far behind Alonso last year and Vettel this year.
      Bottas & Ricciardo as talked about both great choices, and I prefer Daniel as a big fan, and like he states, if Red Bull are looking to leave then he needs to look around. Personally I don’t think Red Bull are going anywhere (and being too vocal ATM) but if they are making comments surely Daniel can do the same- it may get things moving to see it they can get him, or Valtteri for that matter.

      If they cant get them in 2016 give The Hulk his first front running car at least for one year and go from there.

      Some great fast corners on this track but lets hope for a drop of rain to bring the Mercs closer to the field a bit.

      1. @evilhomer
        Wishful thinking on the rain side unfortunately, today was the hottest day here for a decade (and the hottest on record for this month), and the heatwave is supposed to last for at least another week. There’s probably a chance of a thunderstorm, but that’d likely just bring out the red flags.

        1. This season heat is probably a good thing, reducing the gap between Ferrari and Merc. We have the same tyres as in Malaysia, getting the same temperatures could prevent another Merc-rompaway, And currently Merc-wins are the worst-case of what can happen.
          Also looking forward to the new Force-India, curious what getting out of sync to all the others on car-development and therefore probably performance-peak may bring them.

        2. Currently the forecast is for dry conditions on Saturday with a high of 23C, and possibly showers during the race on Sunday with a high of 19C. So maybe we get a race mixed up by a bit of moisture on the track. Could be a good one.

  2. Vettel/Rosberg wins. Hulkenberg finally gets a podium. Hamilton finishes at least 4th/doesn’t finish. That would be exciting.

    1. Hulk has been long due a podium.

      #ForzaJules

    2. Hamilton not winning this race might be the 3rd most exciting event of the season, 2nd being vettel winning (even though my suspicion is growing that merc sandbagged to shut red bull up – sponsors home race only serves my suspicion as it increases mercedes deniability) , 1st being hamiltons temper tantrum in Monaco.

  3. Don’t think Silverstone can turn a new fresh page to 2015 season. Silverstone in its current layout is one of the dullest race tracks at least in Europe. Another Mercedes 1-2 procession coming up.

    Really hoping things would work out for Kimi this weekend and that he can prove he deserves his place on F1 grid for 2016 season.

    1. Silverstone in its current layout is one of the dullest race tracks at least in Europe.

      What? I mean, huh? Whaa?

      1. @xtwl Seriously, it is. Probably Circuit de la Catalunya is the only F1 track in Europe that is worse than current Silverstone. Hungaroring rarely produces good results, but at least it’s unique. The same applies for Monaco. So yeah, Silverstone is the worst track in F1’s current European calendar after Circuit de la Catalunya.

        1. @huhhi In the last seven or so years the British GP would feature in the top 5 best races of that season for sure…

          1. @xtwl – (it’s huhhii, not huhhi) The only truely remarkable race in new Silverstone was 2013, but thanks to that goes to Pirelli and not to the renowned track. As a Bottas fan 2014 British GP was great and ALO-VET battle was fantastic to watch but even that battle would’ve been more spectacular with the former layout.

  4. spafrancorchamps
    1st July 2015, 13:34

    No circuit can save F1 this season. Only the weather can. I hope we’ll get some rain.

    But I’m not going to watch it live since the Tour de France starts this weekend in my home city. I’ll have to do it with F1’s highlights.

    1. I think that may be the first time I’ve heard someone missing an F1 race for a cycle race.
      Clarkson would be shamed.

  5. I think it is a safe bet to say this will be another Merc weekend, with the only hope of anything different being that maybe Ferrari can be close and worry them slightly. That said, I think this is one of those crucial moments for NR. In Austria he didn’t get pole but won the first corner and that was all she wrote. He spoke of improving his racecraft after that race. If he has any hope at all of competing against LH, and erasing some of the stigma surrounding his lack of ability to truly do so, he needs to show us now that he can or has upped his game to a new level. He really needs to start to consistently give LH a hard time, but what a shame too that it seems that just comes down to whoever gets pole or wins the first corner. After that it’s follow the leader due to the adverse effect on front tires in dirty air this season. LH has now a few times gotten a taste of what it has been like for NR to try to follow, so we know these drivers are very close in performance overall. NR has a great opportunity now to start to reverse the majority’s thinking about hm.

    1. HamiltonNumber1
      2nd July 2015, 14:47

      @robbie i agree with most but i would say we have yet to see Ham behind Nico close enough. The two times Nico is ahead he has not been under threat. Catalunya, Ham bottled up behind Vet. And Austria Nico way too quick. So lets see in Silverstone if we get Australia and China but with Ham behind. If Ham has pace adv and behind then we will see weather or not he can do what he done last year a couple times. Nico has yet too actually pass Hamilton, unless you count passing before the first corner. Should be a good race and i want Hamilton to be behind but with better pace.

  6. The answer is simple:
    No

  7. So to summarise: Everyone’s complaining about something, the leaders of the sport are bashing their own product, and the last few races haven’t inspired confidence?

    Gee, we’ve never been here before.

    1. And people are leaving and nobody really seems to know why.

      Nah, never seen it before either…

  8. I don’t see why this race will be any different from the rest. Unless the fans can “will” a good race. The cars and rules are the same so why would this be any different? I like optimism, but the reality is clear. We’ll see.

  9. There are 2 possibilities:
    1. Heatwave will bring another Ferrari victory.
    2. This will be the most boring race of the season.

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