How the F1 teams will approach the British Grand Prix
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Strategy Briefing
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Jul 2014   |  4:20 pm GMT  |  38 comments

It’s the British Grand Prix; a popular race on a much revamped circuit that last season saw plenty of drama with exploding tyres as well as a total of 49 normal overtakes and 35 DRS overtakes.

Silverstone this year will be interesting on a number of levels; with the teams using the hybrid turbo cars on the track for the first time, as it’s one of the lowest braking energy circuits on the calendar; only 9% of the lap is spent braking, so harvesting energy for the MGU-K unit will be an interesting challenge.

At the other end of the scale, it is a high fuel consumption circuit so making sure that the Energy Recovery System is working to its maximum capacity is also vital.

Silverstone has the fastest corner combinations on the F1 calendar and is loved by the drivers, but it can be a real headache for the engineers and strategists, as it shows up aerodynamic instabilities and it can be very difficult to get a good reading on the tyres, especially as there is usually some rain during the practice sessions.

This year the teams have not spent much time on the hard compound Pirelli tyres. They have been used only in Malaysia and Spain, where they were around 4/10th slower per lap than the medium tyres.

What we saw in Spain was Nico Rosberg trying a “Plan B” approach to strategy, having lost the start to his team mate Lewis Hamilton. Whichever Mercedes driver finds himself behind in the opening stint may well try this option in Silverstone.

The “Plan B” is to switch the second placed to the harder tyre at the first stop and look to attack the leader in the final laps of the race when the leader would be on the slower tyre. This increases the pressure on the leader and is more of a psychological challenge, because the gaps are offset and need to be calculated all the time, allowing for the difference between compounds

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Track characteristics

Silverstone – 5.891km kilometres. Race distance – 52 laps = 306.198 kilometres. 18 corners in total. A high speed circuit based on an old WWII airfield. Lots of high-speed corners, aerodynamically challenging, very easy on brakes.

Aerodynamic setup – Med/High downforce. Top speed 311km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 301km/h without.

Full throttle – 66% of the lap (medium).. Fuel consumption – High

Time spent braking: 9% of lap (very low). 9 braking zones. Brake wear- Low.

Total time needed for pit stop: 25 seconds.

XPB.cc

Form Guide

The British Grand Prix is the ninth round of the 2014 FIA F1 World Championship.

Traditionally Silverstone has been a circuit, which suits the Red Bull car, with its aerodynamic design very effective in high speed corners. Red Bull has won the race in three of the last five years,

But last year it was Mercedes territory with Lewis Hamilton leading until hit by a tyre failure and Nico Rosberg winning the race.

And this year the Mercedes pair have won all but one of the eight races with Red Bull winning the other, due to reliability issues on the Mercedes cars.

Lately the Williams cars have been competitive with both drivers fighting for podium places with the Mercedes in Canada and Austria.

As far as drivers’ form is concerned; Fernando Alonso has won the British GP twice, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel , Nico Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen have won there once.

Weather Forecast

The weather in England, even in summer, is notoriously hard to predict. Last year saw rain affecting the practice days. It could be warm and sunny, or cold and wet. The long range forecast for this weekend is for temperatures around 19 to 20 degrees, with rain showers forecast for Saturday and Sunday.

Likely tyre performance and other considerations

Pirelli tyre choice for Silverstone: Medium and Hard. This is a similar combination to what we saw at Malaysia and Spain.

Last year’s race was blighted by a series of tyre failures which led to Pirelli changing the tyre construction midway through the season.

It was a three stop race for most people, but the teams were under instruction to run certain tyre pressures due to the problems.

This year the medium and hard tyres came through Spain and Malaysia without any problems and on the basis that Spain was a two stop race it is like to be the same at Silverstone.

The wear rate of the tyres at Silverstone is high because of the lateral loads through the high speed corners, like Copse and Abbey. The surface of the track is not particularly grippy or aggressive, unlike Barcelona, so this will lead to less rampant tyre degradation, while the cooler temperatures will also help with degradation, even if they make tyre warm up something of a challenge.

Screen Shot 2014-06-08 at 21.29.01

Number and likely timing of pit stops

Because the new pit lane at Silverstone is quite long, a stop is relatively slow by F1 standards at 25 seconds total pit lane time. This encourages teams to do less, rather than more stops.

Early predictions, show that two stops is the most likely scenario with the first stop between laps 10 and 15 and the second between laps 29 and 35. Drivers would do the first two stints on medium tyres and the last one on hards.

However as mentioned earlier there is scope for a counter strategy whereby a driver takes the hard tyre in the middle stint, rather than at the end, and runs a longer middle stint then has the faster tyres for the final stint of the race.

Chance of a safety car

Silverstone is a fast, open circuit with lots of run off areas. So for marshals it’s relatively safe to recover a broken car.

The chances of a safety car are therefore quite low – 57%, with 0.6 safety cars per race.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 20.56.01
Recent start performance

As far as 2014 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season, on aggregate, as follows, taking places lost away from paces gained.

Net Gained places
13 Kobayashi
12 Massa
11 Gutierrez
10 Hulkenberg, Perez [See notes]
9 Bianchi, Bottas
8- Maldonado, Ericsson
6- Sutil [See notes],
4- Raikkonen
2 – Hamilton, Chilton

Net Held position
Rosberg, Vettel
Grosjean, Alonso

Net Lost places
12 Vergne
7 Button
6 Kvyat, Ricciardo
3- Magnussen,

Melbourne Notes: Kobayashi, Massa eliminated in a first corner accident; Perez, Gutierrez pitted at the end of Lap 1; Bianchi, Grosjean started from pit lane.
Malaysia Notes: Perez started from pit lane, Bianchi pitted at the end of lap 1
Bahrain notes: Vergne pitted at the end of lap 1 after contact
China Notes: Sutil lost power at start and dropped 8 places, retiring soon after.
Monaco notes: Maldonado did not start, Ericsson started from pit lane, Perez crashed Lap 1.
Canada Notes: Gutierrez started from pit lane; Bianchi and Chilton crashed lap 1; Ericsson pitted lap 1
Austria Notes: Grosjean started from pit lane

XPB.cc

Pit Stop League Table

Of course good strategy planning also requires good pit stop execution by the mechanics and we have seen tyre stops carried out in less than two and a half seconds by F1 teams.

The league table below shows the order of the pit crews based on their fastest time in the Austrian Grand Prix, from the car entering the pit lane to leaving it. It is noticeable how much Williams has improved in this area in addition to its performance gains on track. In Austria they had the fastest pit stop of any team.

1. Williams 21.133
2. Ferrari 21.234
3. McLaren 21.242
4. Red Bull 21.381
5. Mercedes 21.474
6. Lotus 21.884
7. Toro Rosso 21.906
8. Force India 21.920
9. Sauber 22.449
10. Caterham 22.480
11. Marussia 22.977

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The UBS Race Strategy Briefing is written by James Allen with input and data from several F1 team strategists and from Pirelli

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38 Comments
  1. Gaz Boy says:

    Don’t forget the G!
    Yes, Silverstone is easy on brakes, but its very, very hard on a drivers neck! With some corners pulling 5G, that must be like having an elephant on a drivers hard for a nano second!
    This is the first GP at Silverstone I’ll miss as a spectator since 2008 – but with hindsight I’m glad I did as most of the spectators had webbed feet by the end of the race that particular year! I’ve checked the BBC weather website and wet weather is very, very likely, which should make for interesting viewing……………..
    Apart from Spa, Silverstone must be one of the most wet weather affected events in the Euro season. Off the top of my head, there have been rain affected races in 1988, 1998, 2002, 2008 and 2011, while qualifying in 2012 was an absolute shambles in the most dreadful conditions I have witnessed. I know, because I was there that Saturday in July 2012! Some spectators that day had gone down with Noro-virus like conditions (a nasty bug that causes a person to continually vomit or feel sick) because of the unrelenting wet weather. Thank God tough, it brightened up on the Sunday as Mark W claimed what turned out to be his final GP win with an inspired pass on Nando. I have to say, Nando not smashing into the barriers on the Saturday’s qualifying and subsequent pole was the best save since Gordon Banks in Mexico 1970!
    If – if – it is wet – and that is highly, highly likely, then you can rip off the form book straight away. None of us have got a clue how these new generation machines will go on a full tank in sopping wet conditions in race trim!
    PS Hope Pirelli bring some durable tyres this time!

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      PS Error I meant drivers head not hard!

    2. kenneth chapman says:

      Ahhhhh….silverstone, my first Grand prix 1960!!!! what a race. simply the best.

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        RE Kenneth: And that was the original Silverstone, with zero run off areas on the mega fast corners – not least the incredible original Woodcote corner. At least until a certain South African called Mr Scheckter spun at that corner in the 1973 race and wiped out half of the field………………..after that, the organisers put in a silly chicane at Woodcote.
        Having said, amazing to think until 1991 the circuit still retained the original configuration!

  2. Anil Parmar says:

    I think Ferrari might do quite well this weekend and maybe even challenge for a podium. Their upgrades worked well in Canada and the cooler temperatures should help them, especially given the reports that the upgrades lead to severe overheating when the air temperature in above 27 degrees.

    Tbh, I wouldn’t mind a wet race this weekend…really hoping for one!

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      I’m not sure about Ferrari. Silverstone is a track that requires good and consistent aero balance for high speed directional change. Not sure Ferrari are strong when it comes to high speed corner stability and good aerodynamic centre of pressure in high speed corners. Add on
      However, I would expect Red Bull to be pretty quick; the Bull chassis seems to produce good downforce in mega fast corners and it seemingly has good and consistent aero centre of pressure that is so important on the fast swerves and high speed directional change corners at the Northamptonshire track.
      It curious how different chassis seem to react in terms of downforce settings. In Canada and Austria Force India and Williams were very competitive in ultra skinny downforce trim, and yet previously at the downforce heavy Monaco and aero balance track at Barcelona they were off the pace compared to the Mercs and Bulls. Strange…………….but downforce, aero balance/centre of pressure, aero efficiency, high speed directional change and low speed traction is literally a black art rarely understood by every F1 engineer!

      1. Yago says:

        Ferrari’s strongest point is high speed cornering. His weakness is low speed cornering (traction) and engine (part of the traction problems are also engine related). Red Bull is going to be second best, with Ferrari, Williams and possibly Lotus behind, challenging for third fastest car.

  3. Joshua says:

    For the sake of championship and for the britsh fans I hope lewis puts it all together this weekend.

    Should also be another good track for Ricardo to shine!

    1. Sir_Pezington says:

      Speak for yourself! we’re not all lewis fans! lol
      I hope to see Rosberg standing on the top step this weekend. I dont root for a perticular driver at all the races (appart from Button, i met him when i was a youngster in go-karts!) so i normally want the driver which will make for the most interesting championship to win, which has to be Rosberg. As much as im not a massive fan of Lewis, if Nico cant get a good points gap, Lewis will probably run away with the lead.

  4. Harsha says:

    James,

    Ypu often see the same set of drivers lose/gain positions at the start, unless they have a problem. Like Webber in the past, Ricciardo now, do drop places. Does it have anything to do with technique? For example, the way you drop you clutches, you positioning of the car? One off lost places, I can understand as you might have placed you car badly, as Ricciardo admitted last race, but almost every race? Seems a bit odd.

    1. Sasidharan says:

      Its a lengthy process that they do to start quickest. There is an article about the secrets of quick starting earlier in this website.

  5. goferet says:

    The British Grand Prix is always brilliant with an excellent buzz thanks to the fans enthusiasm for the sport as they struggle to get to and fro the circuit not forgetting the carnival atmosphere at the camping site.

    Okay, so get back to an aerodynamic circuit and I believe we will have the same battles we saw at the all time aerodynamic circuit in Barcelona i.e. two Mercedes followed by the two Red Bulls though the most interest will be Williams not only to see how Suizze goes in free practice but also if the team has really turned a leaf.

    Now with the hard tyres making a comeback, some teams will be concerned on the tyre heating issue more so with the low track temperatures expected.

    Also with the safety car being a rarity at Silverstone, some drivers maybe hard pressed for fuel perhaps we may even get some unlucky Webbers run out of fuel like what happened to Senna whilst in the lead in 1985.

    Overall, wishing Silverstone a happy 50th anniversary and many happy returns.

  6. Richard says:

    I’m so pumped if this is going to be a wet race, with the extra torque and reduced downforce the cars will be quite a task to drive. Glad I got week off this week so I will be able to watch every FP, qualy and the race.

    1. Anil Parmar says:

      Remember Lewis Hamilton sliding through the final corner during the wet qualifying in 2012? Now imagine that with these engines, especially out of Luffield!

  7. goferet says:

    Some Silverstone stats:

    Between 1950-1954 and 1987 to present, the race has been held solely at Silverstone. The rest of the years it was alternating between Silverstone, Brands Hatch and Aintree.

    1) Ferrari 12 wins, Mclaren 12 wins, Williams 9 wins.

    2) Most successful at British Grand Prix:
    Clark + Prost = 5 wins, Mansell 4 wins, Brabham + Schumi + Lauda = 3 wins

    3) Most successful at Silverstone: Prost 5 wins, Clark + Schumi + Mansell = 3 wins, Ascari + Stewart + Gonzalez + Jacques + Coulthard + Alonso + Webber = 2 wins.

    4) Prost won the race with 4 different teams whilst Stewart and Alonso won it in two different teams >>> everybody else won with the same team.

    5) We haven’t had a back to back winner since Couthard in 1999-2000.

    6) Only Ferrari & Williams have scored 4 back to back wins

    7) The most successful poles winners are Clark 3 wins, Mansell 2 wins >>> everybody else 1 win

    8) In 49 years, only 16 have won from pole i.e. Vettel, Alonso, Rubens, Jacques, Damon, Prost, Mansell, Hunt, Clark, Brabham, Ascari, Gonzalez and Farina >>> however only 5 have been successful from pole in the last 20 years.

    9) The only nationalities with more than one pole winner are Britain (Hunt, Clark, Mansell) and Italy (Ascari, Farina)

    10) Alonso is the pilot with the biggest gap between wins i.e. 4 years

    Anybody that has had a gap bigger than 4 years since their last win will more likely be a one time winner e.g. Fangio, Senna, Hakkinen, Montoya, Hunt, Fittipaldi, Damon etc.

    11) The only number 2 drivers to have won the race and gone on to win the title are Prost and Kimi in 1989/2007.

    Fun fact:

    Only twice has Rosberg finished ahead of Lewis at Silverstone i.e. 2009 and 2014, on the other hand, only twice has Lewis finished ahead of Alonso i.e. 2008 and 2010.

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      Some more stats, if I may!
      The hottest grand prix at Silverstone was on the 16 July 1983, which incidentally was also the last time Silverstone hosted a race on the Saturday. The air temp that day was 34C and track temperature was 50C. Britain was experiencing a heatwave that July, and by a happy coincidence 16 July 1983 was the hottest day of the year in the UK! Bear in mind in those days there was no air con in the pits. The other hot GPs at Silverstone was 1990 (air temp about 28C) and 2006 (air temp about 29C – track temps around 47C). I was there in 2006 and it was a very muggy, humid day…………..more often than not, if its dry, Silverstone is warm and sunny, rather than scorching.
      The 1981 GP at Silverstone was the first ever win for a carbon fibre chassis (the McLaren MP4/1) and also the only GP at Silverstone won by an Ulsterman – John Watson.
      As mentioned, the 1983 GP was the last race at Silverstone held on a Saturday.
      Curiously, the flat 12 Ferrari that race throughout the 70s never won a GP at Silverstone – perhaps the lack of slow corners denuded the torque advantage over the Flat 12.
      From 1967 to 1981 every GP at Silverstone was won by a chassis powered by the superb Cosworth DFV V8.
      I may be wrong on this, but I think Silverstone was one of the first circuits to use catch fencing. Remember that – chicken wire netting attached to wooden polls? What happens if a driver is knocked on the head by a poll or wrapped up wire when his car has burst into flames? “Oh, it’ll be alright…………..”
      If my memory serves me correct, the only GP at Silverstone to be stopped prematurely was the infamous 1975 GP where a sudden hailstorm sent half of the field aquaplaning into the aforementioned catch fencing at Stowe and Club Corners (they were all on slick tyres when they arrived at the soaking wet corners).
      Incidentally, that race in July 1975 in may ways mirrored the chaos of Britain in the 70s: inflation in the UK was a staggering 27%, interest rates were around 20%, and high income tax rate (which was UK £20,000 and above) was an astronomical 83%! That’s why James Hunt left Blighty in the mid 70s to go and live in Marbella. It does make you wonder why the likes of Williams, McLaren, Tyrrell (Merc F1 can trace their roots back to Ken) and Brabham (owned by Mr E at the time) stayed in the UK. Bearing in mind there was strict rules on exchange controls at the time as well. So if you earned UK £100,000 in the mid 70s, you would be giving Mr Dennis Healey £83,000! And then with the remaining UK £17,000 left, inflation at 27% meant a quarter of that money was worthless…………………….no wonder James Hunt left! It worked out by the time he retired in mid 1979 (when Maggie came to power and lowered tax rates) James saved himself a cool UK £3.5 million in tax……………

      1. goferet says:

        @ Gaz Boy

        Brilliant.

        As always superb memory.

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        Goferet, I still find it hard to believe that the likes of Frank Williams, Ron Dennis, Mr E, Alan Jones (who lived in Highgate with his first wife Beverely in the mid to late 70s), Patrick Head et al were all perfectly happy to pay 83% tax! Mind boggling…………….

      3. goferet says:

        @ Gaz Boy

        Am also confused as to why Frank Williams, Ron Dennis, Mr E, and Alan Jones would decide to stick around in such harsh times.

        It’s either they are true patriots or they had a secret agreement with Number 10 which stated employers wouldn’t pay the full 83% tax.

        As for myself, I would have followed Hunt ASAP!!!!

    2. rider says:

      So Hamilton will be a one time winner as well because it’s been six years since his last win at Silverstone.

  8. Pkara says:

    Come Lewis :-) you can do it at The Home GP.
    Best of British to you & lets hope Mclaren & Williams are in the hunt too.
    Has to be Lewis instead of that cheesy grinning lug ear Rosberg.
    Forza Lewis COME ON :-) !!
    Has Lotus signed a deal with Mercedes for engines next year & Lotus Mercedes will be an interesting name. Looks like teams are fed up with Renault . Shame they still have a good F1 pedigree. Well nothing lasts forever?

  9. goferet says:

    Thinking of the championship, I wonder which of the Mercedes pilots will break their spells this weekend.

    First off, Rosberg hasn’t won a back to back race either within the same season or different seasons.

    As for Lewis, he hasn’t re-won at tracks were he got his first win in the wet e.g. Silverstone, Spa, Monaco and (Fuji).

    So yes, will be fun to see which driver gets the lucky break this weekend.

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      I forgot to add this amazing stat – you’ll like this Goferet!
      In qualifying for the 1977 British GP, David Purley driving his Lec-Ford was attempting to qualify when his throttle stuck open at the old Becketts corner. His car went straight into the outside concrete retaining wall. He went from 108 Mph to nothing in 66 cm metric/26 inches imperial – which works out as a force of 180G. That was a record for a human being until Kenny Brack crashed his Indycar in 2003 at 214 G.
      Amazingly, Purley survived, although he had 28 fractures – yes 28 FRACTURES – and his heart stopped 3 times during his recovery process.
      The remains of his car is on show at the Donington Museum – it looks a piece of abstract art rather than a Formula 1 chassis.
      180G still remains a record for a F1 crash – and bear in mind Purley’s car was made from tin-foil aluminium, not incredibly strong and impact absorbing carbon fibre.
      180G? The world must have felt it had landed on David Purley’s body………………..

      1. goferet says:

        @ Gaz Boy

        Blimey.

        Surely, the old school F1 drivers were made of steel both physically and mentally.

        I mean, they knew the risks and dangers but still got into their cubicles anyway >>> that’s mind boggling.

    2. Richard says:

      I miss Fuji…Suzuka is great too, but I love Fuji, hell did I play it alot on Gran Turismo.

  10. Gudien says:

    Following this week’s wind up from Ron Dennis I expect a serious weekend for Jenson Button. Good luck to him and all at McLaren!

    1. Ben says:

      I would love for your prediction to be true but I feel with the lack of downforce from the McLaren this year it will have to be an almighty drive from Button or a wet race. Of course a wet race could play into Button’s hands as he is the master of changeable conditions!

  11. Bullish says:

    Hi James,

    I recall from previous telecasts that there is two methods of harvesting energy – through braking and gases. With limited braking and reduced harvesting through this method, which teams are going to be more disadvantaged?

    Thanks

    1. KRB says:

      Hmm … so to take for example the Mercedes drivers, it’s likely that Lewis will recover more energy than Nico thru the MGU-K this weekend. Nico though, uses more fuel, which should mean greater MGU-H waste energy recovery.

      I see that Lewis has a new Energy Store in his car this weekend … that’s #3 for the year for Lewis.

  12. DAVE Emberton says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought as the new pit lane misses out two corners it’s quite fast in terms of total time lost. Didn’t they do stop/go penalties instead of the normal drive through because the latter was considered not enough?

    BTW Silverstone are now selling tickets to the 2 day test next week.

  13. Kenneth M'Boy says:

    Sebs’s race:
    Qualify 5th
    3rd by turn two.
    Power out of turn 7
    Lose all power turn 8
    Knock on Ron’s door at end of lap 1 (with a pen and razor blades).

    1. dren says:

      Haha! You read my mind. I don’t see him jumping ship, although I didn’t see Hamilton doing it either.

  14. dren says:

    I expect a Mercedes 1-2 cake walk assuming their reliability stays in check. They shouldn’t have brake issues here, but could have PU issues. Red Bull should be best of the rest. The Williams will fall back; it is good on the stop and go tracks. I expect them to be back in the hunt at Spa and Monza. Ferrari might go a bit better here.

  15. Lohani says:

    This isn’t the right way to approach Silverstone, though lol /watch?v=tZGrZ8xyHTc. I just wanted to share a clip of how daringly awesome these F1 drivers are. It’s a sim lap where I’m down by about 10 seconds with traction control, but without other aids. The old old layout was awesome. Just got exited, so posting it here. Sorry if it isn’t allowed. F1 all the way! :D

  16. George says:

    I found this film short about Derek Warwick by Mario Muth on the Gary Hartstein blog site.
    Its a brilliant story and well worth watching so have to share here..
    He concludes with some compelling and forthright sentiments about the British Grans Prix, sentiments shared by anyone who cares about our sport and feel some government support would be fitting, if overdue.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZejDlBWYPs

  17. Stephen Taylor says:

    One of my best memories of Silverstone was seeing Hakkinen win in 2001 particular when I think back to the fact it was his last British GP before he retired from F1.

    1. Stephen Taylor says:

      oops particularly.

  18. Stephen Taylor says:

    One of of my favourite British GP moments= seeing Hakkinen win in 2001.

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