British Grand Prix – A true classic
Sunday’s race will be the 71st British Grand Prix. This and the Italian GP are the only two races to have featured every year on the World Championship calendar. In fact, if Formula 1 can be considered to have a home, it’s probably Silverstone. This historic venue sprung up from an RAF airfield, using the perimeter roads and on 13 May 1950, it hosted the first ever Formula 1 Grand Prix and it was also here, one year later, that Scuderia Ferrari took its first win in the category, courtesy of the Argentine José Froilàn Gonzàlez in a 375 F1.
Three circuits. Over the years, the British Grand Prix has been run at three different venues. This year, Silverstone hosts the race for the 54th time, while it was run at Aintree five times and at the swoopy Brands Hatch track on 12 occasions. Ferrari has won in England 17 times, also taking 15 pole positions and a total of 57 podium finishes.
Different layouts. Up until 1990, it was very high speed and since then it has undergone several layout changes. For 1991, a much slower track was devised, removing some of its best loved corners. Then in, 2010, the track was lengthened by 750 metres and the following year, the start-finish line was moved from the straight between Woodcote and Copse to the one between Club and Abbey. The current Formula 1 cars generate a lateral force of 5g at Copse, which is taken flat and also in the legendary Maggots and Becketts sequence where the very quick changes of direction present the cars with a stern test, as they need to maintain momentum to have as much speed as possible down the Hangar Straight.
Laurent Mekies Sporting Director
“Going back to Silverstone is always a special feeling even though this year we won’t see the very enthusiastic British fans in the grandstands. I am sure that we will somehow feel their presence.
It’s the first high speed track of the season and it is vital that we use the two races we have here to improve our understanding of the car. We know that from a pure competitiveness point of view it will be difficult, but we need to focus on acquiring the best information possible so that we can develop our car in the right direction.
The race team had a few days back at base to regroup after the first triple header, and we are all returning to the track with the strong will to deliver the best possible result this weekend. It is certainly a character building start to the season but we know that we can count on our team, our drivers, and our fans, to fight back as a united group. There is no magic formula to turn things around quickly and there’s a lot of hard work ahead of us, which is what we are here for.
Finally, it is good to see the calendar taking shape with 3 more races being confirmed, on circuits with very different characteristics which should represent a good challenge for the teams and a great show for the fans.”
Sebastian Vettel #5
“I really look forward to Silverstone because the track is amazing. I think we all love it. The circuit used to be an airfield so the area around it is very exposed and so the wind can play a very important role, as it can seriously affect the car’s handling one way or another. It can make it very difficult to drive or it can help the driver even more in getting what he wants from it.
The weather and the temperatures are usually unpredictable and that’s another reason why it’s not easy to find the right balance with the car. We’ll see how our car behaves on this type of circuit which again is different to those in Austria and Hungary, with a lot of high speed corners.”
Charles Leclerc #16
“Heading to Silverstone for the next race, two specific traits come to mind when thinking about the circuit. The track is very fast, with the Maggots-Becketts part being particularly impressive to drive through. It also tends to be quite cold there and changeable weather conditions means it is a challenge to predict how the race weekend will turn out.
It will also be our second pair of back-to-back races held at the same circuit this season and the work completed during the first weekend is a good foundation to build on for the second event. We will have to learn as much as we can in the opening days and keep our heads down to make sure we make good progress”.
Last week in the team
There was not much time to rest for Scuderia Ferrari in the first week since the start of the season that did not feature a race. Monday saw the usual technical debrief, analysing carefully the performance of the SF1000, which again in Hungary, did not match expectations.
On Wednesday came the announcement regarding the reorganisation of the technical department. This is aimed at making it more efficient and focused on performance development, with a less horizontal chain of command, with those in charge of each department empowered to reach their goals.
A new Performance Development department was created, headed up by Enrico Cardile, with other areas remaining unchanged.
GP contested 994
Seasons in F1 71
Debut Monaco 1950 (Alberto Ascari 2nd; Raymond Sommer 4th; Luigi Villoresi ret.)
Wins 238 (33.94%)
Pole positions 228 (22.94%)
Fastest laps 254 (25.55%)
Podiums 771 (77.56%)
FERRARI STATS BRITISH GP
GP contested 67
Debut 1951 (José Froilàn Gonzalez 1°; Luigi Villoresi 3°; Peter Whitehead 9°; Alberto Ascari rit.)
Wins 17 (25,37%)
Pole positions 15 (22,39%)
Fastest laps 21 (31,34%)
Podiums 57 (85,07%)
British GP Facts & Figures
2 – Women were entered in the British Grand Prix in 1976, the only race in which it happened. They were Englishwoman Divina Mary Galica on track in a Surtees TS16 entered by the Shellsport/Whiting team, running its usual, but unusual for Formula 1, number 13 and the Italian Maria Grazia “Lella” Lombardi, at the wheel of the RAM Racing Team with Lavazza’s Brabham BT44B. Unfortunately, neither of them qualified.
13 – British drivers have driven a Ferrari in Formula 1. The first was Peter Whitehead who made his debut in a Prancing Horse car in the 1950 French Grand Prix, finishing third. The last was Eddie Irvine in 1999, the year in which he won four races and was in the title fight with Finland’s Mika Hakkinen right up to the final round. The most successful are John Surtees with three wins and the 1958 title in the bag, Nigel Mansell and Peter Collins with three wins apiece and Tony Brooks on two.
1871 – The year that the Royal Automobile Club Trophy, the cup given to the winner of the British Grand Prix, was made. It weighs almost 3 kilos and is 64 centimetres high. The original is made from gold by one of the Victorian era’s most prestigious goldsmiths. The names of the winners are engraved on the lower part. In 1948, when Formula 1 did not yet exist, the race was won by Luigi Villoresi driving a Maserati. Drivers receive a replica of the trophy, although the original is used for the podium ceremony.
1926 – The year of the first ever British Grand Prix. It was run at Brooklands, in Surrey, on 7 August. In extremely hot weather, only three cars finished and the winners were Frenchman Robert Senechal and Louis Wagner who alternated at the wheel of a Delage 15 S 8.
1975 – was the year traffic lights were first used to start a Formula 1 Grand Prix, with the British Grand Prix at Silverstone being the first race to use the system. The winner that day was Emerson Fittipaldi in a McLaren.