2017 British Grand Prix track preview

2017 British Grand Prix

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The super-fast Silverstone circuit should provide one of the most thrilling settings for this year’s new breed of Formula One cars.

Track data: Silverstone

Lap length5.891km (3.66 miles)
Grand prix distance306.332km (190.346 miles)
Lap record (race)1’30.874 (Fernando Alonso, 2010)
Fastest lap (any session)1’29.243 (Lewis Hamilton, 2016, qualifying two)
Tyre compoundsSee drivers’ choices
2016 Rate the Race6.48 out of 10
2016 Driver of the WeekendMax Verstappen

Silverstone track data in full

As the Circuit de Catalunya and Red Bull Ring showed, the 2017 machines are at their best on tracks with plenty of medium-to-high-speed corners. And the Northamptonshire tracks has plenty of those.

The demanding stretch through Copse, the Maggotts/Becketts sequence and on through Stowe should give the most dramatic impressions of what these cars are capable of.

Lewis Hamilton trimmed the track record to 1’29.243 last year. Expect the new cars to carve a few more seconds out of that, particularly as Pirelli has brought its super-soft tyres this weekend.

It’s now 30 years since Silverstone became the exclusive host of the British Grand Prix. During this time the track has seen periodic changes including the construction of an entirely new start/finish complex and pit building in 2011.

But for the most part it has retained its high-speed character. The drivers will be relishing the opportunity to see what this year’s cars can do at Silverstone.

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A lap of Silverstone

When the world championship began Silverstone’s start/finish line was on a straight approaching Woodcote (now turn eight). It was later moved to the approach to Copse (turn nine) and since 2011 has been at the exit of Club (turn 18).

Silverstone has some of F1’s quickest corners
“You start off on the new main pit straight before taking the first turn flat-out,” explains Romain Grosjean. “Then you come into two hairpins. The first one is more open than the second one, and the second you really want to go for as early as you can.”

A good run through Village and The Loop can open up overtaking opportunities heading into Brooklands (turn six). “Then you go through the old last couple of corners – very tricky braking here – before going along the old pit straight. It’s very tricky here on power, as well.”

From here the drivers enjoy one of the quickest series of corners on the entire calendar. Come qualifying, they will tackle the next six corners with at most the merest hint of a lift.

“It’s a great sensation in the car here,” says Grosjean. “You stay flat-out as much as you can into Maggotts and Becketts, and then downshifting every corner a gear, and then you’re onto the Hangar Straight to Stowe corner.”

Staying close enough through these quick corners to make a passing move on the straight won’t be easy, especially as the next corner also has a high entry speed.

Stowe exit can catch drivers out
“This is another tricky one where you enter very quickly,” says Grosjean. “You want to go on the power as quick as you can, but the corner is closing down more than you think.” Several drivers have been caught out at the exit in recent years, particularly during Silverstone’s not-infrequent showers.

“Then you go to the last chicane – heavy braking and it’s very bumpy. Then you’ve got your final throttle application with a lot of g-force on the right-hand side and you cross the finish line.”

As at the exit of Copse, the run-off on the outside of Club is rather generous and it’s not unusual to see drivers having lap times deleted for getting too greedy with the exit kerb.

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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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17 comments on “2017 British Grand Prix track preview”

  1. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
    12th July 2017, 11:50

    Strange, although the Google Map data says ©2017, the pictures are terribly outdated and show no signs of the ‘new’ track and pit complex.

    1. Yeah but that’s just the date of the copyright, not when the picture was taken.

      1. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
        12th July 2017, 21:21

        Ah, thanks San.

    2. @hanswesterbeek it’s really annoying isn’t it. I’ve been looking periodically for updated imagery there year after year and it’s still from pre-2010. As someone has put further down, Bing does have more up-to-date imagery. I used to work for one of the companies that produced the aerial photography and generally speaking each county/city was update every 5 years. More if it was very rural (Cornwall, Herefordshire), less it was built up and there were lots of changes. Clearly, rural Bucks/Northants is not a top priority area!

      1. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
        12th July 2017, 21:22

        Apple’s Maps have more up-to-date pictures of this area too, like Bing.

        1. Apple Maps use Bing @hanswesterbeek

    3. Google Earth does have 2017 imagery now. Not sure why the old imagery is still the default in Google Maps. It’s from early 2007!

  2. Silverstone is make or break for Ferrari.

    1. Last year Red Bull were almost getting us hyped for a race win against Mercedes. In qualifying, both mercedes destroyed everyone and in the race, it was almost the same outcome. Ferrari do have an engine upgrade coming but it is still unknown to us the better team.

    2. Silverstone is make or break for Ferrari.

      For just one of them. Going by the motivation that Raikkonen is showing, by lap 5 he’ll be more interested in the ice cream after the race.

      1. Ferrari are banking on being kinder to the tyres when it comes to predominantly fast corner circuits. They do need all the upgrades they can get, but Mercedes are not waiting for anyone. The only chance I see for this fight to get closer is for Ferrari to make up for the slower pace with more flexible race strategy (due to less tyre degradation). Otherwise, Mercedes has a clear upper hand.

  3. Yes, that’s the old start-finish line when I used to attend this race (the Mansell & Hill era).

  4. I was looking at the race distance and I thought the race should be 51 laps rather than 52 laps as F1 races were 300km long. Turns out clause 5.3 of the Sporting Regulations says the race should be 305km long…you learn something every day!

    1. @geemac With the exception of Monaco which is 260.82km. It’s been that way since the early 90’s IIRC

      1. @montreal95 Yeah, Monaco is the only outlier on that front. I had always thought it was 300km…no idea where I had got that idea from.

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