Formula 1

PREVIEW: 2020 Formula 1 British Grand Prix – Silverstone Circuit

8 Mins read
Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team / LAT Images

The fourth round of the 2020 FIA Formula 1 World Championship will take place at the iconic circuit of Silverstone, as they prepare for a double-header of races.

The first Formula 1 race in 1950 was held at Silverstone which was at the time an abandoned World War II airfield, on the border of Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire in England.

The British Grand Prix has been held at different venues over its history with Silverstone circuit alternating with the Aintree circuit (1955 to 1962) and the Brands Hatch circuit (1963 to 1986). However since 1987 Silverstone has been the permanant home of the British Grand Prix.

The Grand Prix at Silverstone is often considered a home race for many teams, such as Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, BWT Racing Point Formula One Team, Renault DP World F1 Team, and Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team all having factories within the UK which are their main base. But it is the actual home race for the McLaren F1 Team and Williams Racing, who have been two key teams in Britain’s Formula 1 history.

What happened at the 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix?

The Hungarian Grand Prix saw Lewis Hamilton equal Michael Schumacher for wins at a single track as he won at the Hungaroring for the eighth time. Max Verstappen took second place in the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing car, splitting the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team cars with Valterri Bottas in third place.

Hamilton took his ninetieth pole position, with teammate Bottas starting along side him. Lance Stroll in BWT Racing Point F1 Team car took third on the grid, with his best qualifying of the season.

The first drama came prior to the race as Verstappen crashed into the barriers on his out-lap to the grid, causing him to break his front wing and suspension. This led to the team having to fix the car on the grid so that Verstappen could race.

At the start of the race Bottas seemed to jump-start the race, however, he stopped in his grid box, which meant the sensors were not triggered. But, it hindered the start of his race meaning he lost several positions at the beginning of the race, while Stroll moved up to second place.

The track started off damp, with the majority of the grid starting on the intermediate compound tyres. The Haas F1 Team had Kevin Magnussen start on intermediate tyres, but they brought in both Magnussen and Romain Grosjean on the formation lap to pit for slick compound tyres. This allowed the team to move to in third and fourth at the start of the race as all other drivers pitted for slicks. After the race both drivers received a five-second penalty for their pitstop, as it broke the rules on no communication during the formation lap.

Pierre Gasly was the only retirement of the race as he had a gearbox issue in his Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda after struggling all weekend in his car, with a few reliability issues.

The race saw Hamilton dominate as he took a lights to flag victory. Towards the end of the race, Bottas had newer tyres as he had pitted later to try to catch Verstappen. However, he failed to overtake and remained in third place.

Stroll finished in fourth, with Albon in fifth place. Sebastian Vettel was able to produce a good race for Scuderia Ferrari, finishing in sixth. Sergio Pérez behind him in seventh, with Daniel Ricciardo in eighth place. Carlos Sainz Jr took McLaren F1 Team’s only points finishing ninth after Magnussen’s penalty left him in tenth despite crossing the line in ninth place.

After the race Albon was called to the stewards, as it before the race start Red Bull were accused of artificially drying the grid box. However, he was cleared by the stewards and the race result remained the same.

What happened at the 2019 British Grand Prix?

The 2019 British Grand Prix saw Hamilton take the record for British Grand Prix wins as he took his sixth win at Silverstone, putting him ahead of Jim Clark and Alain Prost. Bottas finished in second, securing a Mercedes one-two, with Charles Leclerc taking third in the Ferrari.

Bottas beat Hamilton to pole with Leclerc qualifying in third. Bottas and Hamilton started battling from lap one, while the Haas drivers collided with each other.

Verstappen battled for third with Leclerc, before he pitted on lap 14. The pitstop allowed Verstappen to come out ahead of Leclerc.

Antonio Giovinazzi suffered a mechanical failure and spun into the gravel at turn 16 whilst running in ninth place. This led to the safety car being deployed and allowed Hamilton to take a free pit stop and jump past Bottas.

Verstappen and Leclerc continued to battle for position, until the Dutchman began to pull away and was allowed through by his teammate Gasly, taking fourth place. Leclerc overtook Gasly around the outside of turn 3 on Lap 36, taking fifth position.

However, when Verstappen got to the Hanger straight and passed Vettel for third place, the pair collided, as Vettel locked up his brakes and went into the back of the Red Bull Racing RB15. The incident meant both went into the gravel and Leclerc and Gasly passed both drivers.

Vettel fell down the order over the remainder of the lap due to damage to his front wing, before pitting to have it replaced, crossing the line in fifteenth. But due to the incident being deemed as his fault by the stewards he received a ten-second time penalty moving him down into sixteenth place.

Hamilton won the race and claimed the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:27.369, giving him and extra point but also the new track record for Silverstone.

The race ended with Pierre Gasly taking one of his best race finishes for Red Bull as he finished in fourth place, with teammate Verstappen behind in fifth. Sainz ended in sixth place, Ricciardo in seventh. With Kimi Räikkönen taking eighth place and Daniil Kvyat in ninth, rounding out the points scoring positions was Nico Hülkenberg in tenth.

The Circuit

Silverstone is back for two races in the Formula 1 calendar. The once World War 2 airfield is a 5.891-kilometre track. The track has 18 corners, with fourteen of those being high speed and only four low-speed corners. There are six straights, which are fast-flowing and technical. It stands out as one of the most iconic circuits on the calendar.

Along with Monza and Spa-Francorchamps, Silverstone is one of the tracks with the highest average speeds on the calendar, with an average of 235 km/h. The track was taken with 60% full throttle and has low brake wear, meaning it demands a medium downforce setup. In addition, a good aerodynamic set up is needed due to typically high wind speed conditions.

With many changes over the years at Silverstone, safety measures have been improved throughout the circuit due to its high speed. In 2010, the most recent change came to the track with new Arena layout, fast corner Abbey replacing the iconic Bridge corner. Also in 2011, the new ‘wing’ pit complex was built between the Club and Abbey corners and the start-finish straight was moved to there.

Credit: Pirelli Media

Sectors, Corners, and DRS Zones

Sector One (Turn one to turn five) includes the corner abbey which can be taken flat-out at around 290 km/h. That goes into Farm curve (T2) then turn two leads into the tight right-hand third corner of Village. This then flows into one of four slow corners in the left-hander called the Loop. Which then follows into Aintree and down the first straight the Wellington straight.

Sector 2 (Turn 6 to Turn 14) starts with Brooklands and goes to wards Luffield corner (T7) which is a tight right-hander. This flows into the Woodcote followed by the Nation Pit Straight. This leads into the fastest three corners on a Formula 1 track the complex of Copse, Maggots and Beckett, which leads into the last corner of the sector Chapel (T14).

Sector 3 (Turn 15 to Turn 18) starts with the Hangar Straight leading to the right-hander at Stowe. Stowe leads down to another straight and then the final corners of Club and Vale, followed by the start-finish line.

There are two DRS zones start with the first detection point before Turn 3 and the activation point after Turn 5 on the Wellington Straight. The second zone’s detection point is at Turn 11 and the activation point will be after Turn 14 on the Hangar Straight.

Credit: Pirelli Media

Tyre Strategy

This weekend the white-striped hard tyre compound (C1), the yellow-striped medium compound (C2) and the red-striped soft (C3) will be taken to Silverstone by Pirelli. These are the same nominated compounds as Hungary and the double-header in Austria.

The teams will all have two-sets of the hard-specification tyre, three sets of the medium-specification tyre and eight sets of the soft-specification tyre.

The race can often be a mixture of one or two stop races. This is because the race can be prone to safety cars. However last year saw an easy one-stop for the grid.

What should we look out for this year?

Hamilton will be hoping to win a third successive race of the 2020 season, but it is not just any race for the six-time World Champion, it is his home race, where he can secure his seventh British Grand Prix victory. With the dominance of the Mercedes W11, Hamilton will easily be the favourite to win the race.

Hamilton’s teammate Bottas will be hoping to take a second win of the season. This year Bottas has made it clear he is hoping to challenge for the championship and last season at Silverstone he showed he had potential pace to beat Hamilton.

However, the Red Bull team are hoping to have better speed at the circuit and aim for a first win of the season. They currently sit sixty-six points behind Mercedes in the championship, so the team will be hoping to take the battle to the Silver Arrows this weekend. Within the team Albon will be hoping to try and beat teammate Verstappen and take his first podium of the season at his home race..

McLaren will be aiming to improve on the weekend at Hungary, with a strong car and the fast duo of Lando Norris and Sainz, they will be hoping to finally score good points at the British Grand Prix again. Norris, is still fourth in the standings with McLaren sat in third, so the team will be aiming to go back to old ways at Silverstone.

Silverstone is a circuit for speed, so the Racing Point team have to be ones to look at as they will want to emulate the Hungarian Grand Prix with the points scoring positions. Stroll seems to be working well with the RP20 and could easily score points. This weekend sees the Canadian joined by Nico Hülkenberg who takes over from Sergio Pérez in for the next two races due to the Mexican failing a Coronavirus test.

George Russell could be one to watch in qualifying yet again as he has made it though to the second part of qualifying in two sessions this year. Yet to score a point in Formula 1, it will be a dream for him to score at Silverstone, his home race. But with the development of the FW43, he could be a darkhorse of the weekend for the midfield.

Hamilton (63 points) currently leads the Formula 1 Championship by five points to Bottas (58 points) who is second in the standings. Verstappen (33 Points) is now up to third in the Championship standings as he leap-frogged Norris (26 points). Albon (22 points) sits in fifth.

Mercedes (121 points) are way ahead of the field in first place of the constructors championship. As Red Bull (55 points) sit sixty-six points back as they had managed to gain ground since their first double retirement in the first race. McLaren (41 points) cannot get too comfortable because Racing Point (40 Points) are now only one point behind.

What’s the schedule?

Friday 31 July

09:00 GMT / 10:00 Local Time – Free Practice One
13:00 GMT / 14:00 Local Time – Free Practice Two

Saturday 1 August

10:00 GMT / 11:00 Local Time – Free Practice Three
13:00 GMT / 14:00 Local Time – Qualifying

Sunday 2 August

13:10 GMT / 14:10 Local Time – Race

How can I keep up with the action?

Follow all the action at the Checkered Flag with our extensive coverage, quotes and analysis for every session and day at the British Grand Prix and the 2020 Formula 1 Championship.

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