The confirmation is here, not that we needed it -Mark Webber is to leave Formula 1 at the end of this season. The timing of this announcement is fitting as the Australian returns to the iconic British circuit as the 2012 victor.
This is the time for his possible replacements to shine. Former British F3 champion, Jean-Eric Vergne knows the 5.9km circuit well and will hope for a decent points haul to build on the momentum of his record Formula 1 year. Both Webber and the Frenchman will hope to make their mark this weekend.
A Red Bull pole position would be the team’s 50th, four years after their Chinese Grand Prix début. Sebastian Vettel was the pole sitter last year. Only 34% of pole positions are converted to a win.
The British and Italian Grands Prix are the oldest continuously staged in Formula 1’s history and the wealth of British talent to emerge in the last few decades has cemented Silverstone as a place of pilgrimage for race fans.
British driver, and two-time world champion, Jim Clark shares the record for the highest number of victories with four-time champion, Alain Prost. Both have emerged victorious from the 52 lap race five times. Felipe Massa and two time winner, Fernando Alonso, will most likely feel confident that their Ferrari can add another victory to the Italian outfit’s fifteen winning trophies.
Recently, repeat victories at Silverstone have proven to be rare suggesting that a midfield driver may manage an upset. Rain could prove to be a factor, it is England after all! In which case, Valterri Bottas, Paul Di Resta, Nico Hulkenberg or Adrian Sutil may well surprise.
James Rossiter will also have his chance to shine at his home track. The Brit, who was involved with pre season testing with Force India, will replace Adrian Sutil for FP1. “It will be amazing”, he simply stated. A man of few words summed it up brilliantly.
James will not be the only young driver in action, don’t forget to keep an eye on the GP2 and GP3 results from the weekend.
Silverstone is expected to attract 300,000 race goers, promising to provide support for Britain’s four drivers. This year, DRS will be available in two zones of the track – the Wellington Straight and the Hangar Straight. It is hoped that this will further boost overtaking. I would talk about the impact the tyres may have, but I feel enough has been said about Pirelli for now.
The track they will be racing on is not without its modifications. Following the tragic events in Imola in 1994, a purpose-built chicane was added to Abbey Corner and Stowe was shortened considerably. It was Damon Hill who took the first victory at the new look circuit; a feat his father never managed. Fans I often talk to remember that race fondly.
I personally, will never forget the moment that, a rather gentlemanly, Nigel Mansell, offered Ayrton Senna a lift back to the pits!
To quote Lewis Hamilton, “winning the British Grand Prix is as important as winning the championship.”