RAC Cars News


An Armchair Guide To The British Grand Prix

By raccars Published

This weekend, thousands of revelers will be struggling to exit a grassy car park after a weekend of festivities. And we're not talking about Glastonbury. Yes, it's the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, that time of year when the Formula 1 juggernaut rolls into Northamptonshire.

But despite the popularity of F1 racing, there are some who may be new to the F1 scene. And if that happens to be you, let us take you through our armchair guide to the British Grand Prix - a beginners guide to F1.

What is Silverstone?

Silverstone is a sleepy village just off the A43 near Towcester. But once a year, its population explodes from 2,000 to 300,000 as Formula 1 fans flock to Northamptonshire.

It was the venue for the first ever round of the Formula One World Championship in 1950 and has been the only circuit to stage the Formula 1 British Grand Prix since 1986. The 2013 Formula 1 Santander British Grand Prix will be the 47th British Grand Prix to be held at Silverstone.

The F1 drivers will complete 52 laps of the 3.66 mile circuit, completing just over 190 miles in the process. The longest straight is the 'Hanger Straight' at 770 metres, with Abbey Corner the first turn on the circuit. The most famous turn is arguably Maggotts Corner, with F1 cars capable of taking it at 188mph.

Who to watch at this year's British Grand Prix

The current Formula One World Championship leader and three-times champion, Sebastian Vettel in a Red Bull is the favourite to take the chequered flag at this year's British Grand Prix, with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Britain's Lewis Hamilton also said to be in with a chance of winning.

Naturally the home fans will be out in force hoping to cheer on a British winner, but the omens aren't good. The last British winner at Silverstone was Lewis Hamilton in 2008 and you have to go back to 2000 for the only other British victor in the new millennium. Back then, it was David Coulthard in a McLaren-Mercedes who took the honours.

So far, the 2013 season has been incredibly frustrating for McLaren, with the team languishing in sixth place in the Constructors' Championship. The team's Jenson Button will be hoping the home advantage provides a little extra pace.

What is the race timetable at the British Grand Prix?

There are two practice sessions on Friday, with a third and final practice session on Saturday morning.

Qualifying starts at 1pm on Saturday, with the race getting underway at 1pm on Sunday. At which point, as Murray Walker would have said, "it's go, go, go".

How important are tyres at the British Grand Prix?

Tyres are much more important than you'd think and in 2013 especially, they have been the source of much controversy. In short, tyre preservation has become more important than pace.

Each team uses an identical set of six different Pirelli tyres and must use at least two dry-spec tyres during each race. Naturally the rules change if it's raining! The tyres are colour-coded - Red: super soft; Yellow: soft; White: medium; Orange: hard; Green: intermediates; Blue; wet.

Anything else we need to know about the British Grand Prix?

This weekend's race has been given a little extra spice by the news that Red Bull's Mark Webber is to leave Formula 1 at the end of the season. The Australian, who lives in Britain, is much loved by British F1 fans and won the race in 2012 and 2010.

Mark Webber, who has not enjoyed the best relationship with his team-mate, Sebastian Vettel, will be looking to bow out of his adopted home Grand Prix in style.

The British Grand Prix will be screened live on BBC One.

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