The British Grand Prix weekend is my favorite race weekend of the season – but then again, I am biased. Nonetheless, Silverstone is a magical venue, featuring some of the world’s most remarkable corners and having played host to many classic Grand Prix’s of yesteryear. When a British driver heads into the weekend with a chance of victory, as Lewis Hamilton does this weekend, the atmosphere reaches fever pitch, with the potential to spill into euphoria should he repeat the feat of 12 months ago and take the 25 points away from his home race. However, with Nico Rosberg entering the weekend on the back of three wins from the previous four races, including success last time out in Austria, Hamilton will surely face a stern test.
- Silverstone hosted it’s first British Grand Prix in 1950, in a race won by Guiseppe Farina on his way to becoming F1’s first World Champion.
- The circuit has alternated with both Aintree and Brands Hatch in the past, with the two hosting 4 and 12 races respectively.
- Jim Clark and Alain Prost are joint as the most prolific British Grand Prix winners, each claiming five victories. Clark won four of these consecutively between 1962 and 1965.
- Despite the history of the venue, Bernie Ecclestone has been critical of Silverstone in the past, prior to the redevelopment project which was completed in 2011.
And for a fact you probably didn’t know;
- Hitachi were the title sponsor for the event in 1994.
Rewind 12 Months…
British hopes of a home win were crushed following a disastrous Saturday for Lewis Hamilton. In one of the most exciting qualifying sessions of the season, the battle for Pole went down to the wire, with rainfall causing confusion throughout the hour but proved particularly intriguing in the final segment. On the second and final run of the shootout, the track in the final sector had dried considerably, allowing for the times to tumble for the final attempts. This saw Nico Rosberg head to the top of the timesheet, followed by Sebastian Vettel and sensationally, Jenson Button in the MP4-30. Hamilton, meanwhile, who had aborted his final lap believing that the circuit was too wet, found himself languishing in sixth.
The race, therefore, saw Nico Rosberg enter as the hot favorite. A nasty first lap crash for Kimi Raikkonen on the Wellington Straight prompted the red flag and an hour delay due to the incident necessitating barrier repairs. When the race did eventually restart, Hamilton soon found himself in the wheel-tracks of his teammate, albeit Rosberg kept control of the battle. However, that was until the German ground to a halt as Mercedes’ achilles heal proved, once again, to be reliability. Hamilton went on to take his second British Grand Prix win, while Valtteri Bottas finished a career-best second, after a sensational drive in response to his untimely Q1 exit in the rain-effected qualifying. Daniel Ricciardo was able to hold off a late charge from Jenson Button, preventing the Brit from claiming his first British GP podium on his fifteenth attempt.
My pointers regarding what to look out for this weekend, are as follows;
- While Lewis Hamilton will be buoyed by the home support, Nico Rosberg could be the fly in the ointment for the Briton this weekend. Rosberg proved in 2014 how he is a strong performer at Silverstone, with his 2013 victory being a sign of his credentials.
- Due to its high speed nature, Mercedes powered cars are likely to dominate the top ten this weekend. Both Force India and Lotus should target double-points finishes but the Renault runners should not be cut adrift to the same extent as in Canada and Austria, with chassis performance also being a factor on Silverstone’s high-speed turns.
- Force India in particular are likely to be strong this weekend, as their Cologne-inspired upgrades hit the track in anger for the first time. Look out for their radical new approach to nose design.
Image Credit: "F1-Mercedes-Lewis Hamilton" By Jake Archibald (via Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0]