Following the first three rounds of the delayed 2020 Formula 1 World Championship, this weekend sees the teams at Silverstone in England. The 2020 Pirelli Formula 1 British Grand Prix will be the first of two that will be held at the 72-year old circuit, the second to be run next weekend as the Emirates Formula 1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix 2020.
After the compact, undulating layout of the Red Bull Ring in Austria and the tight twists and turns of the Hungaroring in Hungary, the wide open spaces of Silverstone – once an airfield – promises a very different kind of challenge.
A true power circuit
Silverstone is one of F1’s last remaining true power circuits, and one which the drivers like. Its fast and flowing layout with iconic corners such as Copse and the rapid changes of direction through Maggotts, Becketts and Chapel provide both a thrill and a test of nerve and skill.
Drivers experience some of the highest lateral g-forces of the season at Silverstone, with a maximum of 5g – meaning they will feel 5 times their normal weight. Therefore, with the average weight of a human head wearing a helmet being 7 kgs, the driver’s neck is being pulled side-to-side by a force of 35 kgs through some of the corners.
Drivers spend almost 81% of the lap distance at Silverstone driving at full-throttle and the average speed over the course of a lap is one of the highest in F1 at around 220 km/h. But Silverstone is not entirely about high speeds; the ‘Arena’ section introduced a decade ago provides the additional challenge of a sequence of technically demanding low-speed corners.
Resurfaced last year, the track has shed some of its reputation for abrasiveness and Pirelli is added spice to the two races by varying its compound choices for this weekend and the next. It is being cautious by supplying its most durable compound (C1) while the C2 and C3 will be the medium and soft, respectively. Next Sunday, the plan is to move on step softer with the C2 to C4 compounds.
Conditions are notoriously windy at Silverstone and the wind direction changes relatively frequently, too. This has a big impact on the car balance and can completely change the car’s behaviour, forcing drivers to adapt their driving style to suit. Braking points, apex speeds and throttle application can all change due to a shift in wind direction.
Sergio Perez replaced by Nico Hulkenberg
Racing Point’s Sergio Perez will not be racing as he was tested positive for COVID-19, believed to have been due to visiting his mother in Mexico who was hospitalised. So far, he shows no symptoms but the strict rules require him to self-isolate for 10 days. This means he will also miss the next round. Nico Hulkenberg will drive in his place, starting from 13th place on the grid.
As with the other rounds earlier, there will be no spectators within the circuit and the number of people allowed inside are kept to a minimum. Those who enter are tested regularly for COVID-19 and team members are required to stay within their ‘bubble’ and not mix with others, even at the hotel or other places outside the track. Things are that strict and the FIA is constantly monitoring because it does not want to have governments in other countries withdrawing permission to hold the forthcoming races because of participants not being disciplined to observe the Standard Operating Procedures.
The championship so far
Mercedes-AMG’s Lewis Hamilton, last year’s winner and the one who has won the most times at Silverstone (6), starts his home race as the leader in the Drivers Championship, 5 points ahead of team mater Valtteri Bottas. Consecutive podium finishes in Austria and Hungary put Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen in third place, 25 points behind Bottas.
In the Constructors Championship, the top finishing places of its two drivers have built up the points lead which, at 121 points, is 66 ahead of Red Bull Racing with McLaren in third. However, Mercedes-AMG team boss, Toto Wolff, is not complacent. “We enjoyed very good results at the British Grand Prix in recent years, but we all know Babe Ruth’s famous quote: ‘Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games’. There’s no entitlement to a good result because you had a strong showing in the past, on the contrary: a successful race will always be the result of the hard work of every single team member and we will have to bring our A-game to stay ahead of our competitors,” he said yesterday.