F1 2018: British Grand Prix Track Guide
Silverstone hosted the very first Formula 1 Grand Prix in 1950. The circuit has changed since then though, can you master it?
Silverstone is the spiritual home of Formula 1. Nearly every team has a base within a stones throw of the Northampton circuit, making it the home race for the majority of the grid. The British Grand Prix has been hosted at Aintree and Brands Hatch, but since 1987 it has been back at Silverstone and it doesn’t look like moving any time soon.
Britons have dominated this race, much to the delight of the home crowd. Jim Clark won five times in the 60’s, while Nigel Mansell claimed four wins and Lewis Hamilton has five, including four-straight from 2014 to ’17. The current configuration of the circuit, which moved the pit lane and extended a straight, has been in use since 2011. It has three DRS zones and sees you at full throttle for a staggering 70% of the lap. This means that aerodynamic performance is at a premium, however with all the changes of direction you also need a finely-tuned suspension. Let’s start by looking at the primary overtaking points of the lap.
Turn 15, otherwise known as Stowe, comes at the end of a lengthy straight and DRS zone that also has a fairly quick entry from the turn 10-14 complex. That means you can get a terrific slipstream and sweep past your opponent on the straight. If you do have to get it done on the brakes then it can be tricky. Stowe is not a slow corner, it’s an arcing right-hander that you can carry momentum through, but that is good as it means you can make a move on either side if you are bold enough. You can squeeze through the inside if they leave the door open, but also come around the outside and take advantage of the kerbing on the exit. Even if you don’t get the move totally done on the outside you are set up for an inside dive at turn 16.
The Wellington Straight is also a DRS zone and ends in a wide turn where you can make a move. This time it’s a late-apex left-hander. The worry here is that there is a quick switch to a slow right-hander, meaning you may have to get aggressive on exit and squeeze your opponent if you can’t fully get this move done. However, it’s such a wide entry to to turn 6 that there is plenty of room on the inside, and if they go ultra-defensive in front of you, then like Stowe you can get a move done around the outside too and finish it off at the next corner.
You can also get a move done at turn 3 though it is tricky as you have to come out of turn 2 at an awkward angle. You can also be especially brave and make a dive at turn 9, Copse, and through the winding 10-14 section. There are some tricky corners here too. Let’s start with the most important.
The new section of Silverstone still catches drivers out, and the slow, elongated chicane of turn 3 & 4 can really hurt people. The exit of turn 4 is vital as it is your acceleration point out to the Wellington straight, while turn 3 can be an awkward entry if you slide off-line through turn 2. You have to take 3 slower than you think as you immediately have to come back across the track to get a good angle for 4. Don’t push the car too wide on exit of turn 4, because while there is kerbing out there it doesn’t give you the same level of traction and will compromise you all the way down to turn 6.
Copse corner is the old turn 1. In the new layout it is turn 9. This is a flatout right-hander on fresh tyres, but as the race goes on and your tyres wear out it can be a terrifying prospect. There is thankfully some run-off on exit, but that wall on the left hand side gets closer and closer, and if you lose the rear mid-corner you are likely to end up planted in it. It is wise to ease off once your tyres start to fade and just lift off the gas prior to turn-in, but that can leave you a little vulnerable to a battle through the esses, and that will cost you a lot of time.
Silverstone can punish tyres, but any compromises in setup can result in a less responsive, slower, car that will leave you going backwards in the race. Rear downforce is important here, because you need to keep the rear planted and stable through the high-speed corners. You can see our setup here, but remember that your own driving style, as well as any assists you use or what controller setup you use, may require some tweaks to maximise pace.