New Sasol GTC cars set for thrills

The iconic Grand Prix Circuit will present a new challenge to the GTC drivers as they tackle the country’s fastest racetrack on June 16.

Suzuki’s new Swift hatch and sedan in SA

Suzuki kicks off its new model assault with an all new Swift hatchback and standalone sedan called the Dzire.

Rencken: 2013 Brit GP preview

2013-06-27 12:11


THE CHASE IS ON: Three teams and drivers will chase victory at the 2013 British GP as F1 heads towards the eighth race of the 2013 season. Image: Wheels24

SILVERSTONE, England - The British Formula 1 GP, first raced in 1950 at Silverstone, once a Second World War RAF bomber base, is the sport's oldest and was the first of the modern era of such racing.

It has, of course, changed hugely since the then giant bombers were thundering into the wartime sky, most recently when it was lengthened to 5.9km through the addition of the Arena infield section and a new pits/paddock facility (and revised start/finish area) was used for the first time.

The 18-turn (8L/10R) circuit is fearsomely fast, with numerous challenging combinations and seven corners taken at more than 250km/h - only Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps has more high-speed sections – and the cars go beyond 300km/h four times a lap; only one corner is taken at less than 100km/h.


The awesome Maggotts-Beckett-Chapel complex remains one of F1’s sternest challenges, with drivers exiting Copse (T9) at 280km/h before heading boot-flat for into the swooping, sweeping high-speed complex of four connecting bends. Get one wrong and and that’s the lap shot (or worse).

Average speeds through this section hover around 250km/h, no lower than 190km/h at any stage, while rapid changes in direction mean drivers are subjected to alternating high g-forces in a very short time, punishing neck and shoulder – and tyres, particularly rears.

A pointer to Silverstone’s speeds: Mark Webber’s 2011 pole for Red Bull averaged over 235km/h. In addition to its trademark short connecting sections, Silverstone has an extremely abrasive and somewhat undulating surface, adding further to the challenge, particularly when the going gets wet, as is likely at some stage during the weekend.


Although long-term forecasts predicted a completely dry weekend this has gradually morphed to wet Friday (June 28), followed by dry but cloudy 20C skies for qualifying and the race.

Being England, it could, of course, change again – either way…

According to Pirelli, Silverstone imposes the greatest lateral load on tyres, with Copse (T9) generating lateral loads of a sliver more than five G when taken at 300 km/h. To cope with such stresses, the Italian tyre company has specified its Medium (white sidewalls) and Hard (orange) compounds, a combination this year used in the heat of Malaysia/Bahrain and on Barcelona’s extremely abrasive surface.

The 2012 British Grand GP was held under sodden and chilly but dry skies, there are no recent pointers as to race strategy, but pundits believe the average will pan out at three stops under dry conditions, with the more benign drivers able to eke out two stops and those with ‘hungry’ visiting their respective garages four times.

Wet or dry, strategy will prove vital, particularly as the pace car has not featured much at Silverstone in recent years.

Having been forced by rain to abort its plans to run experimental Hards on Friday last time out in Canada, sole rubber supplier Pirelli will again make the prototype rubber available this weekend, although given the weather forecast one wonders whether the German round – a week later on the quirky 2013 calendar - or even Hungary at end-July will eventually feature the debut of the much-discussed specification.


In common with the recent trend, the International Automobile Federation has specified two DRS zones – the first between Turns 5 and 6 as in 2012, with detection shortly before T4; the second, additional, zone between the exit of Chapel (T14) and running down to Stowe (T15), with detection before the complex.

However, as proved by the fact that in recent times qualifying form has not proved vital at this venue – since the turn of the century only three winners have come from pole - overtaking has seldom been an issue at Silverstone, so the second zone may just prove overkill. That said, during the same period the winner has not come from beyond fourth on the grid.


After seven rounds (of 19), Red Bull’s reigning champion Sebastian Vettel (132 points), holds a comfortable 36-point lead over Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso (96), with Kimi Raikkonen (88) in third for Lotus.

Victory is expected to be thrashed out between this trio, with Silverstone specialist Webber (winner in 2012 and 2010) and the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg, victor in Monaco and searingly fast in recent qualifying, and Lewis Hamilton, racing on home soil for Mercedes, also getting a look in.

McLaren? Jenson Button and Sergio Perez don’t stand a chance, certainly not on the team’s recent form as both drivers candidly admit. That said, statistically the winner is likely to be home grown, for of the 63 British rounds held to date (46 at Silverstone) 21 have been local. Over to you Hamilton, Button and di Resta. 

In the Constructors’ category Red Bull has so far dominated, having 201 points to the 145 of Ferrari, with Mercedes third on 134.

Saturday's qualifying session (June 29) and Sunday’s 52-lap race will each starts at 2pm SA local time.

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2013 British Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend

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