Preview 10: British Grand Prix
Ten things to watch out for at this weekend's Silverstone GP - including people wearing pink shirts.
Silverstone is right in the heart of England's motorsport belt, with Lotus, Caterham, Force India, Mercedes, Red Bull and Williams, just a piston toss away. McLaren aren't that much further. So it's the chance for many of the factory personnel to see the cars they build in action, as Sebastian Vettel reveals: "A lot of the staff who work so hard on the car will be watching from the grandstands with their families - I hope we can get a good result for them. As the factory is only about half an hour or so from the track a lot of the race team live nearby and can sleep in their own beds for the weekend which surely is a nice thing for them. I have good memories of Silverstone, the best must be winning there in 2009 and Mark won there in 2010 and 2012 so we have a good record at the track."
It's very rare to see a woman in an F1 car. In the past we've had Maria-Teresa de Filippis, Lella Lombardi, Davina Galica, Desire Wilson and Giovanna Amati who have all had a go behind the wheel. This weekend Susie Wolff will join their ranks when she takes part in Friday's Free Practice 1 for the British Grand prix in a Williams. Although Susie won't be attempting to qualify like the others, she will be a rare exception in that she'll be driving a car capable of winning an F1 race. In the past, the female entrants have all been in relatively minor teams, but after Williams' showing in Austria, it's clear that they've got a car that could win.
Drivers love high-speed corners because it tests them and Silverstone has many. Can you guess which driver is talking here: "Silverstone is great. It's just a great, great racing circuit. It's fast, it's flowing and you really get to rag your car for all it's worth. There's nowhere better at letting you know how very, very good an F1 car is than Silverstone, and in particular through that ultra-fast Maggots-Becketts-Chapel complex."
Yeah, you're right. It's Dan Ricciardo.
How much are the Mercedes team-mates going to be revealing to each other over the course of the Silverstone weekend? Especially after Austria, where Nico Rosberg admitted he was keeping information back, and Toto Wolff reckoned the team-mates' inability to share information cost them the front row (although it was more likely Lewis Hamilton's mistakes that cost them pole).
Rob Smedley, Williams head of vehicle performance, thinks that his team should have another good race on Sunday, providing it doesn't get too cold (which will set the tyres sliding)."The car does have to be set up differently from other high speed circuits. The layout has high power and drag sensitivity which should suit our car this season. Depending on the temperature we can suffer from rear tyre graining, however, the hard tyre we have for the weekend could also suffer from low-temperature issues which we will have to manage."
There will be lots of talk about the proposed Caterham F1 team sale this weekend. Owner Tony Fernandes is concentrating his (sporting) money on keeping QPR in the Premiership, after he failed so dismally before. Bernie Ecclestone's all in favour of teams being sold rather than new ones starting up: "It's not easy to start from scratch, F1 costs money," he told Gazetta dello Sport this week. "To buy a team you need a wind tunnel, simulator and so on, which requires an investment of around 150 million euros. And you haven't even begun: then you need the drivers, the right technicians to build the car, and the good ones are expensive. That's why Ferrari wanted Newey..."
Lewis Hamilton is hoping that he has a race like 2008, not 2013. "I won the race in the wet in 2008, which was just the best feeling. I think the gap was around 60 seconds at the end, and I'd lapped everyone up to third place which was just unreal. I could never have hoped or dreamed for a race like that - especially at my home Grand Prix. That has to be one of the best moments of my career. I loved raising that gold trophy in front of the home crowds and I'm determined to get my hands on it again this year."
As it's Britain you can never be certain of the weather: Friday should be dry all day for free practice, FP1 and FP2; but on Saturday it's almost certainly going to be rainy for either FP3 and/or qualifying, as a weather front sweeps in. For the race on Sunday there will also be rain around, with chances of showers from 10am to 4pm, which could make the timing of tyre stops very interesting...
A fixture of all British GPs since 2000 won't be there this year. Jon Button, who always supported Jenson at his home race, will be remembered by Jenson: "This race is going to be a special one for me because it was always such an important race for my dad. I'll be wearing a special pink helmet for the race weekend, and I'm hoping people will enter into the spirit of supporting the #pinkforpapa effort to wear something pink on Sunday to honour his memory. He won't be there this year, but he'll always be with us in spirit - I hope he brings me some extra luck on Sunday."
Last year Pirelli had the kind of British GP experience that would wake PR men (and women) with nightmares for years to come.They suffered multiple tyre delaminations including one that took Lewis Hamilton out of the race. It sparked a switch of compounds that ultimately gave Red Bull the edge in the championship race. This time they're taking no chances: "We've brought our two hardest tyres, which should be well suited to the conditions," said Pirelli's motorsport director Paul Hembury, " and after the race we look forward to the final dedicated in-season tyre test of the year, from Tuesday to Wednesday. Ferrari and Marussia will be driving for us on the first day, with Red Bull and Lotus on the second day, as we continue our development test campaign."