• British Grand Prix Preview

There's no place like home

Chris Medland June 27, 2013
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After the trip to Canada it's a return back home for Formula One; literally for many of the teams as the British Grand Prix takes place at Silverstone. Eight of the 11 teams are based in England, with seven of them within 40 miles of the circuit and McLaren less than 90 minutes away. That means the majority of the teams will be celebrating their home grand prix in front of team members and factory workers who don't usually get to attend races, and will be desperate to put on a strong showing…

On Form

It's hard to look past Sebastian Vettel after his dominant display at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve three weeks ago. While Red Bull had never won in Canada, Vettel stormed away at the front and never looked in danger as he delivered a virtually flawless drive; his two small errors - brushing the wall at Turn 4 and running wide at Turn 1 - showed how hard he was pushing. Ominously, with a 36-point cushion already in the championship, Vettel heads to a Silverstone circuit that has been good to Red Bull in recent years with three victories in the last four races here.

Out of Form

While it was unlikely the team was going to feature in the 'On Form' section during the first half of the season, things are just going from bad to worse for McLaren. Renowned for being able to develop a car at an impressive rate throughout a season, the expectation was that the team would emerge from its poor start to be a contender for race victories at some point. However, that point seems a long way off as McLaren failed to score for the first time in 65 races in Canada despite both cars seeing the chequered flag and its target for this weekend is solely to get back in the top ten.

Felipe Massa has had a tough last few races © Getty Images
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One to watch

After a disappointing two races in Monaco and Canada, Felipe Massa will be looking to bounce back at British Grand Prix. Massa's encouraging start to the season has stalled somewhat, but with Ferrari proving strong in Barcelona it is likely the high-speed nature of the Silverstone circuit will suit the F138 once again. Allied to the track characteristics are the same tyre compounds - medium and hard - that Ferrari performed well on in Spain so all the ingredients are in place for Massa to have another strong weekend. He's not exempt of pressure, though; having only been handed a one-year contract for this season, Massa needs to ensure he doesn't extend the recent poor results.

Talking Points

FIA Tribunal
There's no getting away from the FIA Tribunal even a week after it sat for the first time in Paris. Errors were attributed to all three of Mercedes, Pirelli and the FIA, but there was dissent from both Red Bull and Ferrari at the punishment handed out to Mercedes. Every team will have an opinion on the result, and although some may not be willing to reveal theirs in public, it's sure to be one of the first topics raised in every media session on Thursday.

Webber's departure
In the ESPN F1 podcast on Tuesday we discussed how likely it would be that we would learn more about Webber's future following the British Grand Prix; traditionally when his new deals at Red Bull have been announced. Webber went one better though by announcing on Thursday morning that he will be leaving Formula One at the end of the season to join Porsche's Le Mans team. He can expect a warm reception from the British fans at Silverstone - a track he's won at twice - and it would be fitting if he could make that three victories on his final appearance at Red Bull's home race.

Red Bull vacancy
Following on from Webber's announcement, the inevitable follow-up question is who will replace him at Red Bull? It's not every day that a seat at Formula One's dominant team becomes available and there will be many suitors, but already the early front-runner is Kimi Raikkonen. A friend of Vettel's, Raikkonen fits in with the Red Bull philosophy and is undoubtedly world class; something that can't be said of either Daniel Ricciardo or Jean-Eric Vergne at this moment. Raikkonen is also set to be available at the end of the year, so he'll be delighted to know he is likely to receive even more press interest this weekend…

Agreements and contracts
The next three races take us past the half-way stage of the current season which sees more and more 2014-related questions being asked. With the tyre testing scandal now behind it, Pirelli will be keen to get a new contract finalised for next season and beyond, with time running out for it to meet the required deadlines to inform teams of the tyre specifications. Marussia is also seeking an agreement as it doesn't currently have one with the commercial rights holder (CVC represented by Bernie Ecclestone) and CEO Graeme Lowdon admits he doesn't know why the team is not being treated equally.

Silverstone's average speed is 231km/h © Press Association
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Fast Facts

  • Seven of the 18 corners at Silverstone are taken at over 250km/h and only one at below 100km/h
  • Two thirds of the lap is spent at full throttle, with the longest period being for 13.7s
  • Drivers will change gear on average 48 times per lap
  • Only three of the last 12 races in Britain have been won from pole position

Trivia

  • This will be the 64th running of the Canadian Grand Prix, and the 47th race to be held at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
  • The British Grand Prix is an ever-present on the Formula One world championship calendar
  • The race has never been won by anybody starting from outside the top ten, with Johnny Herbert winning from fifth in 1995 the lowest grid slot in the last 20 years
  • 12 Britons have won the British Grand Prix - Stirling Moss, Tony Brooks, Peter Collins, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, James Hunt, John Watson, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Johnny Herbert, David Coulthard and Lewis Hamilton - but 2009 world champion Jenson Button has never even been on the podium.

Circuit

Silverstone has long been a favourite among the drivers and the alterations to the circuit over the past two years haven't changed that. The popular high-speed corners at Maggots, Beckets and Chapel were retained and even added to with the new nearly-flat-out Abbey Corner that is now turn one. The extra 0.8 kilometres of track, added roughly 10 seconds in lap time but opened up some good viewing opportunities for spectators and a couple of overtaking opportunities at Village and Brooklands. There will be two separate DRS zones this year; one on the Wellington Straight and one on the Hangar Straight.

© ESPNF1
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Weather

The teams are set to face a frustrating scenario this weekend as rain is forecast to affect Friday's free practice sessions. This is the time when updates are analysed and long runs assessed, so teams will struggle to get a handle on their new parts and their set-ups ahead of the race. That's good news for fans though - with dry conditions forecast for the rest of the weekend - as the teams will just get FP3 to hone their cars for qualifying and the race.

FIA driver steward

1992 world champion and four-time winner of the British Grand Prix Nigel Mansell will carry out the FIA's driver steward duties this weekend. The former Lotus, Williams, Ferrari and McLaren driver fulfils the role for the fourth consecutive British GP.

Betting

As he ominously continues to extend his championship lead it's Sebastian Vettel who is favourite with the bookmakers at 7/4 but he is expected to get some stiff competition from Fernando Alonso at 11/4. Lewis Hamilton is 13/2 to win his first race for Mercedes, but Nico Rosberg is the driver to back of the pair as he's out at 10/1. If you're feeling all misty-eyed then Mark Webber is 8/1 to repeat his 2012 success here, while an outside bet would be one of the Force India drivers to finish on the podium, with Paul di Resta 12/1 and Adrian Sutil 14/1.

ESPN Prediction

In all likelihood it's set to be a two-team race this weekend between Red Bull and Ferrari. Having been so strong in Spain and taken a dominant victory, ESPN is backing Fernando Alonso to make the most of similar conditions to take victory at Silverstone.

Chris Medland is assistant editor at ESPNF1

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Chris Medland is assistant editor at ESPNF1 Chris Medland, who in his youth even found the Pacific GPs entertaining, talked his way in to work at the British Grand Prix and was somehow retained for three years. He also worked on the BBC's F1 output prior to becoming assistant editor ahead of the 2011 season