The F1 race strategists are pretty excited about this weekend as the new Silverstone pit lane will be used for the first time and they have to learn the best way to plan Sunday’s race.
Tests in the teams’ simulators indicate that the time lost coming into the pit lane will be very short, so stops could take as little as 15 seconds. This will push them to stop more times and with the lateral loads on the tyres from the high speed corners here at Silverstone, the feeling is that the leading teams will be stopping three times on Sunday in the race.
The pit lane entry cuts out the Vale corner and the speed limit is 100km/h, but there is a right turn in the pit lane which simulators show might not be possible to pass through at 100km/h; the drivers may have to slow down to take it. So we could see some drivers taking risks there trying to get a small advantage.
“The new pits are the biggest difference, and the entry and exit bring new challenges,” said the FIA race director Charlie Whiting.
“The entry is shorter than staying on the circuit, so we will have to ensure that drivers don’t use these changes to the pits to their advantage.”
I’m not sure we’ll see that, but the time needed for a stop at Silverstone is very short.
Pirelli is bringing its soft and hard tyres to the race this year – the same as we had in the early flyaway races – as well as two experimental medium compound tyres for the teams to try out on Friday in practice. The indications are that Pirelli is moving towards bringing tyres which are only one step apart for later in the season, as this may improve the qualifying spectacle and make for more exciting and variable strategies.
The soft tyre is likely to be up to 2 seconds a lap faster than the hard this weekend, as it was in Spain. This will mean two things: drivers will want to spend the minimum time on the hard tyre in the race and they will want to save as many new sets of soft tyres as possible. This will mean fewer qualifying runs.
The wear rate of the tyres at Silverstone is high because of the lateral loads through the high speed corners, like Copse and Abbey. Strategists are working on the basis of similar wear rates to the Chinese Grand Prix, which was a three stop race for the winner. The surface of the track is not particularly grippy.
The target will be to do three stints or around 14 laps each on the soft tyres and then a short stint on the hard at the end. A new set of soft tyres will not only give an offset in terms of lap time through the stint but will also mean that the stints can be three laps longer than cars running used tyres.
For this reason we will definitely see drivers saving tyres in qualifying to keep fresh sets for the race.
Amazingly, getting knocked out in Q1 is proving to have significant advantages; it’s interesting to note that Jaime Alguersuari has now twice come through to finish in the points having been eliminated in Q1, which meant that he had two new sets of soft tyres for the race. In fact in five of the eight races so far, we’ve seen a driver who was eliminated from Q1 go on to score points on Sunday, showing how important new tyres are.
Five out of eight is a significant statistic.
The circuit has been modified quite a bit in the last few years and various parts of it have been resurfaced, such as the high speed Copse corner. The grip level remains relatively low, but the high speed corners take a lot out of the tyre, especially laterally.
To find out more about the strategy considerations for the British Grand Prix, check out the content I’ve prepared with input from F1 team strategists – go to STRATEGY CONTENT and click on the track map of Silverstone