Tuesday, 21 June 2011

What does the British Grand Prix have in store?

With just over two weeks to go until the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, every British motorsport fan (and a few others) are looking forward to the race at the ex-RAF base. Whilst we can enjoy another race in Valencia before then, it will be at the British round where 'phase two' of the season really begins.

It's unlikely the British Grand Prix will be this wet, but will it rain?
Firstly, it'll be where the FIA's cut on off-throttle blown diffusers will take place. To the more casual fan, that basically means that when the driver is off the throttle (ie. in the middle of a corner) he should have less grip. This will effect all the top teams to an extent, but is rumoured to hit Red Bull and Renault the hardest, and that can only be good news for the chasing pack, including McLaren, who haven't managed to perfect their system yet. Or so you'd think. Currently, the two top Renault-engined teams have to carry 10% more fuel at the start of the race using this strategy, so at Silverstone, how will their race pace shape up against raw speed in Qualifying?

That's one area where Red Bull should dominate - even more than normal - because of their phenomenal speed in the faster corners. As Silverstone plays host to some of the fastest corners of the year, as well as boasting the second-fastest average speed all season, the boys from Milton Keynes should absolutely fly. Many paddock whisperers believe that the Qualifying pace enjoyed by Red Bull is solely down to their ability to open up their rear-wing flap before all of the other teams can - ditching drag and enabling them to go faster. Therefore, their speed in the race is compromised because they can only use this system in one or two certain zones. Pole position at Silverstone will go to the driver who dares to open their DRS first.

Another factor will be KERS - good news for the rivals of the world champions, as they haven't got theirs quite to the high standard they expect yet. Christian Horner revealed that they use a smaller system that is lighter and allows a better-packaged car, to the detriment of cooling and outright power. At the Northamptonshire circuit, with several long straights and one or two important traction zones, the use of this system will also be a key to success.

And lastly, but definitely not least, is the inevitable question of Britain's weather. Will the rain hold off for the Silverstone Wing's debut? Or will we see another downpour like we did in Canada? Part of me wants to see the new pit complex and start line bathed in sunshine; but then again, who would turn down another race like the one we had in Montreal? Only time will tell.

Image (c) Motioncompany, F1Fanatic

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