Resident Formula One writer, Nick van der Meulen presents his now traditional pre-race report, titled F1 preview Britain 2019.
Anyone who has any inkling of F1 will know of Silverstone. Why, you ask? Because it hosted the very first F1 Grand Prix in 1950. The concept of motor racing was devised by the French (hence, Grand Prix), the European Championship ran through the ’20s until World War II began in 1939 and continued in the late ’40s, but the first Formula One World Championship Grand Prix was staged at Silverstone.
The circuit was built on the Royal Airforce Station which originally opened in 1943 and hosted its first serious motorsport event in 1948. It alternated the British Grand Prix with Aintree in the ’50s and early ’60s, after which it alternated with Brands Hatch – until 1986. From 1987 until today it has been the sole host of F1 racing in Great Britain.
This is not to say it hasn’t had an easy life, far from it. The owners, the British Racing Drivers Club, have had long disputes with the FIA (and Bernie Ecclestone, in particular) to continue hosting the event, based on safety issues as well as aging facilities. Ecclestone’s needling and threats over the years did work, however. Silverstone had a major upgrade to its facilities in 2011.
Silverstone was resurfaced just before the grand prix this year. This was done in order to smooth out the bumps, improve drainage, and accentuate cambers. A side-effect could be even faster lap times than we’ve seen before. The fastest-ever lap of the current layout was set by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton last year in qualifying.
Silverstone is more about lateral energy than traction or braking, although there are also some slower and more technical parts in the Arena complex. Some degree of compromise is needed when it comes to set-up.
The circuit itself is a favourite amongst the drivers, not least Lewis Hamilton: Great Britain’s favourite son and five-time winner of the event. It is fast, flowing, wide enough for many overtaking opportunities and, according to Hamilton, regarded as “the most fun rollercoaster ride of the year”. Should the Englishman take victory, he will hold the record for the number of wins at the circuit (he currently shares the accolade with Alain Prost).
The fast, flowing attributes will benefit the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes, however, one will believe that Red Bull Racing (particularly Max Verstappen, riding high after victory in Austria last time out) will not be far behind.
Renault has been boosting their power unit recently and one has seen vast improvements from McLaren-Renault, in particular, so expect them to be on the fringes of the podium. Racing Point, Alfa Romeo, Haas and Toro Rosso have had up-and-down weekends this season, so it is a lottery as to who will make up the smaller points finishes.
Add the fact that the weather always has a role to play in England and one has the thought that it could be interesting. Nevertheless, who would bet against Hamilton winning his fifth at home? Not I…