It’s a homecoming for F1, back to where the first ever World Championship race took place in 1950, we return to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. There’ll be rain, mud, huge queues, passionate fans camping in their thousands, and hopefully some excellent racing as well.
As those of you who have read our article on the ‘Top 10 British GP Performances’ may already know, the first race at Silverstone took place in 1948. In 1943, the RAF built a new base at Silverstone, in classic RAF style it had three runways in a triangle, and in 1948 the Royal Automobile Club took out a lease and held the first race.
The first race made use of the largest two out of the three runways and had just ten corners, in 1949 the race was held on the perimeter roads only, and none of the three runways was used for a GP circuit until 2010 when the modifications to the track took the Wellington Straight between turn five (Arena) and turn six (Brooklands) along the path of the third runway that wasn’t used in 1948.
The original long runway is still visible today for the most part, although the second runway is now all but gone. The 2010 modifications removed most of the remaining traces. Much of the original circuit from 1948 does remain, Hanger Straight is exactly as it was in 1948. Stowe is the same, only it was a hairpin back in 1948, and Woodcote and Copse are more or less as driven by the Maserati’s who won the first race.
Club remains a hairpin just as it was, but Abbey is now a 90 degree right, the 2010 modification took away the old sweeping left hander. I could go on all day about it, I have the same fuzzy feeling about Monza. It’s a great circuit, full of the history of Formula 1.
What to say about the situation at Mercedes, things have gotten all a bit tense again. The relationship between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg hasn’t publicly broken down like it did in 2014, but the two have crashed in five races, leaving Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda red faced and visibly annoyed.
Both incidents were, by all accounts, Rosberg’s fault. He was in the wrong engine mode in China, saw Hamilton late and veered too aggressively across the track. Hamilton had to pull alongside due to the speed difference and should have been given a cars width. Last week in Austria was an incident with shades of Schumacher and Hill, Rosberg wanted to run Hamilton off the road, in his mind it was better to take both cars out, it backfired and despite his best poker faced denials he was in the wrong.
We come to Silverstone with threats of team orders hanging over the sport, Hamilton tied up to a more lucrative contract and Rosberg’s deal expiring at the end of the season – the strain is showing on the German. I think he knows that if push came to shove the team prefers Hamilton, and this is the last chance saloon; with Mercedes and for a shot at a world championship. This one will get hotter before it cools.
Ferrari are not doing anything to endure themselves to the Tifosi right now. All the pre-season noise was that they were closer, and in all honesty they should have won at least one race so far in 2016. They have, however, managed to blunder to several DNF’s and no race wins.
They have drivers with a combined six World Championships and really should be doing a lot better, pushing the Mercedes and getting Sebastian Vettel into a position to challenge for the title. Earlier in the season Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne gave team principal Maurizio Arrivabene a vote of confidence, and we haven’t seen or heard too much from him since. That won’t continue if they keep dropping the ball.
The forecast is for sunshine and rain this weekend which, let’s be honest is great news. We love a shaken up grid and the unpredictability of a rain affected race. The closeness of the midfield means that anything from a podium down to tenth is up for grabs, and there’re plenty of drivers who need to take advantage.
Jolyon Palmer, Esteban Gutierrez, Daniil Kvyat, either Sauber, and Fernando Alonso could all do with plonking themselves into the points and getting their season’s back on track. Could this be the weekend?