Silverstone is always an important milestone in the F1 calendar and this year’s race, set to play out in front of a race day crowd of 130,000 people, looks set to be as unpredictable as last year’s race, where Williams led until rain intervened.
The current Silverstone layout is a huge challenge for teams and drivers, with the fastest corner combination of any F1 circuit. It is a strange one for the hybrid systems as the track is the lightest of the season on braking, but with 70% of the lap at full throttle, it’s hugely demanding on hybrid Energy Recovery, which harvests braking energy. So you have the demand on the energy but not enough opportunities to harvest the energy in braking. A very efficient system is essential to be competitive.
Pirelli has once again brought the hardest compounds and the start of the weekend is likely to be quite political as the sport and its supplier digest another tyre failure for Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in Austria last weekend. It was at Silverstone in 2013 that Pirelli suffered a series of tyre failures, which changed the way the teams are allowed to run the tyres.
This year three tyre choices are permitted and those are the Soft/Medium/Hard. So the Soft will be the qualifying tyre but a poor race tyre at Silverstone, so the default of one stop is likely to be altered. Two stops may be needed this year and with a relatively fast pit lane time, this could make things quite interesting. We’ve seen several times now that the best strategy seems to be to rely on the tyres going further than you expect – this was true in Spain and Austria and could well be true at Silverstone.
But like last year, to complicate matters, there is rain forecast for Saturday and Sunday.
The key numbers from Austria to Silverstone:
The dramatic last lap collision between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the Austrian Grand Prix was the first time the lead of an F1 race had changed on the final lap since Jenson Button passed Vettel for victory at the 2011 Canadian event.
Staying with Hamilton, his triumph at the Red Bull Ring was the 250th win for a British driver in F1 history, and as he also scored his 25th win for Mercedes. This means ten per cent of all British wins in F1 history have come from the triple world champion driving for the German marque.
Hamilton’s win at the Spielberg circuit was also the 22nd different venue he has won at in F1, which is just one behind the all-time record held by Michael Schumacher. Hamilton can draw level with the seven times world champion if he wins at Interlagos or Mexico City later this season.
Heading into Silverstone, Mercedes has now led 3,157 laps in its F1 history, which is just nine behind the tally of Red Bull that is fifth on the all-time list. Only Lotus (5,623), Williams (7,588), McLaren (10,578) and Ferrari (13,920) have more.
While his Manor teammate Pascal Wehrlein qualified 12th and scored the team’s first point of 2016 last time out, Rio Haryanto is the only driver to not to have escaped the first segment of qualifying so far this season. However, the Indonesian driver only missed Q2 in Baku by 0.116s, and he is just one behind Wehrlein (5-4) in the Manor qualifying head-to-head.
Two other drivers who are currently enduring a tough time in qualifying are Jolyon Palmer and Marcus Ericsson. The Renault driver has not made it through to Q2 since the opening race of 2016 in Australia, while the Sauber racer has only reached Q2 once, at the Chinese Grand Prix, so far this season.
Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg heads to the British Grand with a record of not being outqualified by a teammate at Silverstone since the 2010 event, which is only bettered by McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who hasn’t started behind a teammate in Britain since 2007.
Although Alonso has scored points in the last five Silverstone races, and he won at the 3.652-mile track in 2006 and 2011, the Spaniard hasn’t started higher than 16th on the grid since 2013. His teammate, Button, has never finished on the podium of his home event in 16 attempts.
Kimi Raikkonen will make his 100th Grand Prix start for Ferrari this weekend, and he will become the fourth driver in the team’s history to reach that milestone. Only Rubens Barrichello (102), Felipe Massa (139) and Michael Schumacher (179) have made more F1 starts for the Scuderia.
Raikkonen’s third place in Austria was his fourth podium finish of the season, which is already more than the three he chalked up in 2015. The 2007 world champion is now tied on points with Vettel in the drivers’ championship – they both have 96 after the latter’s retirement at the Red Bull Ring. The Ferrari pair also has the same number of career podium finishes, with 84 each, but Raikkonen has taken 73 more races to reach that total.
At Toro Rosso, Daniil Kvyat’s early retirement in Austria means he has only completed eight racing laps in the last two races. The Russian also has the unenviable record of completing the fewest racing laps of any driver so far in the 2016 season (372 out of 559, or 67 per cent), and he has only scored one point for Toro Rosso since his demotion from Red Bull.
Carlos Sainz’s eighth place in Austria pushed Toro Rosso over 300 points in the squad’s all-time F1 history.
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