British GP 2014 Location: 10 Key Facts About Silverstone

Oliver HardenFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2014

British GP 2014 Location: 10 Key Facts About Silverstone

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    Lars Baron/Getty Images

    The Silverstone circuit hosts the British Grand Prix, the ninth round of the 2014 Formula One season.

    This year's event is bound to be one of the more memorable races at the Northamptonshire track, with Silverstone hosting its 50th grand prix and Susie Wolff set to become the first woman to take part in a race weekend for 22 years.

    The British Grand Prix is likely to provide the latest twist in the title race, too, with Lewis Hamilton, one of the two major protagonists, eager to take his second victory on home soil and win his first race for almost two months.

    However, Nico Rosberg, the current championship leader, will be determined to land a psychological blow on his Mercedes teammate by ruining Hamilton's homecoming and ensuring he arrives at his own home race, the German Grand Prix, with a fourth win of the season under his belt.

    As the race weekend approaches, here are 10 facts about Silverstone.

Location

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    The Silverstone Circuit is located south of the English village of Silverstone.

    Although the track is officially located in the county of Northamptonshire, part of it crosses the border into Buckinghamshire.

    With the track based in the East Midlands—effectively slap-bang in the middle of the country—the headquarters of eight of the 11 Formula One teams are found nearby.

    Marussia's HQ, for example, can be found in nearby Banbury, while Mercedes and Red Bull are based in Brackley and Milton Keynes respectively.

    Force India's factory, meanwhile, is located at Silverstone itself.

Distance

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    Silverstone has a circuit length of 5.891 kilometres, according to the official Formula One website, with a race distance of 306.198 km.

    The race's 52 laps usually take around 85 and 90 minutes to complete.

    The lap record for the track's current configuration stands at 1:33.401s and was set by Red Bull's Mark Webber on the final lap of last year's event, according to the FIA's timing information.

History

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    Before it became the "Home of British motorsport", Silverstone was an aerodrome.

    After the end of the Second World War, the land became a race track and hosted the inaugural Formula One race in May 1950.

    The grand prix, above, was won by Italian driver Giuseppe Farina, who went on to become F1's first world champion.

    Silverstone alternated with Aintree as the host of the British Grand Prix from the mid-1950s until the early 1960s before sharing the race with Brands Hatch until 1987.

    The circuit has remained on the calendar ever since.

The Half Century Is Up

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    The 2014 British Grand Prix will be the 50th occasion that Silverstone has hosted a grand prix.

    To celebrate the milestone, the race weekend will feature a number of historic car parades, with world champions Nigel Mansell, Emerson Fittipaldi, Sir Jackie Stewart, Alain Prost and Damon Hill taking part.

    Selected others, such as David Coulthard, Martin Brundle, Rubens Barrichello, Dario Franchitti and even Red Bull chief technical officer Adrian Newey, will also be involved. 

Past Winners

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    Four-time world champion Alain Prost is the most successful Formula One driver at Silverstone having triumphed on five occasions between 1983 and 1993.

    Prost is tied on five British Grand Prix wins with two-time world champion Jim Clark, although the Scot only won at Silverstone on three occasions.

    Fernando Alonso is the most successful of the current drivers at Silverstone, having claimed victory in 2006 and 2011.

    Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg all have one British Grand Prix win to their names.

The Greatest Overtake Ever? Mansell on Piquet, 1987

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    In 1987, Silverstone hosted what was arguably the finest overtaking manoeuvre in Formula One history.

    An unscheduled pit stop left Nigel Mansell almost half a minute behind Williams teammate and race leader Nelson Piquet with 28 laps until the finish.

    The British driver hunted Piquet down, shattering the lap record on numerous occasions before completing the decisive pass into Stowe corner—after a perfectly executed dummy on Hangar Straight—on the 63rd of 65 laps.

    Piquet, however, would have the last laugh: the Brazilian claimed his third and final world title at the end of that season.

     

Driving Challenges and Setup

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    Silverstone's several high-speed corners require teams to run with high downforce levels, with the circuit's relatively short straights meaning this has no huge effect on top speed.

    A number of short braking distances can make it difficult for cars to overtake, despite the presence of DRS zones on the Wellington and Hangar straights.

    The track, however, has some of the most iconic turns in Formula One, with Copse, Stowe, Abbey and the Maggots and Becketts complex in particular among the drivers' favourites.

    Nevertheless, Silverstone does have some frustrating, technical sections—including the complex between the Village and Aintree sections—where drivers have to wait for the front end to grip before flooring their right foot.

     

     

     

     

Strategy and Tyres

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    After three consecutive races of soft and supersoft compounds, Pirelli's medium and hard tyres will return for the first time since May's Spanish Grand Prix.

    This is due to the individual demands of the Silverstone track, with a Pirelli race preview noting:

    Silverstone is a high-energy circuit, as the fast and flowing nature of the circuit means that the tyres are constantly subjected to different forces: sometimes several different forces at the same time. Lateral accelerations peak at 5g while the surface temperature of the tyres can exceed 110 degrees centigrade.

    The unpredictable weather conditions and fluctuating temperatures at Silverstone can open a number of routes in terms of strategy, although the race is likely to see cars require two pit stops.

    Pirelli will be hoping that this year's British Grand Prix doesn't see a repeat of the 2013 event, which was marred by a number of tyre blowouts, above.

     

     

Red Bull Are the Team to Beat

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    Red Bull have won three of the last five races at Silverstone, with Mark Webber triumphing on two occasions and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel tasting victory once.

    2009 victor Vettel was on course for his second British Grand Prix win in 2013, but a gearbox problem led to the German retiring from the lead as the race entered its latter stages, with Mercedes' Nico Rosberg inheriting the victory.

    Rosberg and Fernando Alonso, the 2011 winner, could only just escape the clutches of the Red Bulls, with Webber finishing a close second to the former last year and both Vettel and the Australian finishing second and third behind the Ferrari driver three years ago.

     

     

     

Winging It

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    Silverstone's pit complex is arguably the most striking of any circuit on the Formula One calendar.

    The opening of the Silverstone Wing in 2011 saw the track's pit straight move from the straight between Luffield and Copse to the opposite end of the circuit, between the Club and Abbey corners.

    The structurethe site of the post-race podium ceremonyis three storeys high, 390 metres long and cost £27 million to construct, according to Andrew Benson of BBC Sport.

    The distinct shape of the building's roof, according to Benson, was "intended to evoke a sensation of movement and speed."