It’s time for what used to be referred to as one of the sport’s “Grandes Epreuves,” the British Grand Prix, first held at Silverstone on 13 May 1950 and the inaugural round of the Formula 1 World Championship, motor racing’s blue riband category. Scuderia Ferrari wasn’t there that day, down to a notorious disagreement over start money between Enzo Ferrari and the race organisers. But just over a year later, Silverstone earned a special place in Ferrari’s history as it was here that the team scored the first of its 242 wins to date. Last year, Prancing Horse flags were waved under the podium when Carlos Sainz took his maiden Formula 1 win, the Scuderia’s 18th on British soil.
The track. Silverstone was used as an airfield during the Second World War and the first races were run on the three runways and then also using the perimeter road. The British Grand Prix has been on the calendar every year since the start of the World Championship, a record it shares with the Italian GP, and since 1987 it has always been held at Silverstone. Over the years the track has undergone several makeovers and it is now more tortuous than its previous more squared off layout. However, it is still very fast and tricky. The current layout dates back to 2010, when the section after Abbey corner was modified and the pits complex and start-finish line moved to the section after Club.
Set-up. Maggotts, Becketts, Chapel: Silverstone boasts some of the most iconic corners in the racing world and the key characteristic all the teams aim for in terms of set-up is minimal drag. Therefore, the cars will sport wings similar to those used in Baku and Montreal. This weekend sees the highest average corner speeds of the season and that will highlight tyre performance as they come under severe loads. Pirelli is introducing a new tyre construction here, which is stronger and more able to deal with the heavy demands placed on them, another variable that the race engineers will have to deal with. The weather also has to be taken into consideration and in recent years, the wind has made life complicated, while like last year, the threat of rain is ever present and can be another headache for the teams. After two strong showings in Canada and Austria, Charles and Carlos will be hoping for more of the same in England.
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
"The past two races have clearly demonstrated that we have made progress with the SF-23 and our drivers have been able to drive attacking races, thanks to improved tyre management and a more consistent long run pace. However, we are not yet in a position to challenge the current championship leaders, which is why we continue to work hard.
Ferrari has very strong links to this track, which is one of the historic venues on the Formula 1 calendar. Its high speed corners are a stiff test of a car’s abilities and we are very much looking forward to seeing how the SF-23 performs. In the days of unlimited testing, the British-based teams had a big advantage at this track, but that’s no longer the case.
Indeed, last year Carlos secured his first ever Formula 1 win here and Charles has come close on a few occasions, listing Silverstone as one of his favourite permanent circuits. Both drivers, along with the whole team, will be doing their utmost to take the fight to our opponents who naturally will be keen to shine at home."
GP contested 1061
Seasons in F1 74
Debut Monaco 1950 (A. Ascari 2nd; R. Sommer 4th; L. Villoresi ret.)
Wins 242 (22.81%)
Pole positions 243 (22.90%)
Fastest laps 259 (24.41%)
Podiums 800 (25.13%)
Ferrari Stats British GP
GP contested 70
Debut 1951 (J.F. González 1st; L. Villoresi 3rd; A. Ascari rit.; P. Whitehead 9th)
Wins 18 (25.71%)
Pole positions 16 (22.86%)
Fastest laps 21 (30%)
Podiums 59 (28.09%)
Three questions to...
MARCO FROIO, TYRE ENGINEER
1. We’re racing at Silverstone, a very demanding track that presents many challenges for the driver and car. Tyres are also worked very hard here. Can you explain why?
Silverstone is definitely one of the most demanding tracks on the calendar for the tyres. There are two factors in particular that make it so tough: the high average speeds and the fact that there are many high speed corners. The first of these creates high vertical loads which stresses the structural strength of the tyres, while the second leads to extremely high lateral loads, especially on the front left. This leads to high wear and overheating so the tyre ends up working at a far from optimal temperature.
2. As from this race, Pirelli is introducing tyres with a new type of construction. How do these differ from their predecessors?
The reason Pirelli has decided to make a change from the current tyre specification is down to the fact that in the first part of the season, we have seen higher loads than those predicted from the simulations received from the tyre supplier at the end of last year and, because the continuous developments the teams are bringing to the track have led to a significant increase in the amount of aero downforce the cars can generate, downforce which passes through the tyres. Therefore, this has prompted Pirelli to strengthen the construction of the tyres to increase their resistance to stress, without having to resort to a significant increase in the minimum prescribed pressures. And the decision to introduce this construction at Silverstone is precisely because of the stresses this track puts on the tyres.
3. Tell us a bit about yourself, how you came to Ferrari and what it means to be part of the Scuderia in Formula 1?
I got a degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Sapienza University in Rome and, before joining Ferrari about eight years ago, I worked as an aerodynamicist in a wind tunnel. Being part of the Scuderia is a unique opportunity for me, as I have been able to make my passion my work and it allows me to progress alongside some of the best people in the business. It is something to be proud of, but there is also a sense of responsibility to the many fans who support us in all four corners of the world.
Date and place of birth: 19/4/1986, Rome (Italy)
British Grand Prix: facts & figures
17. The number of race tracks in the United Kingdom, four of which, Aintree, Brands Hatch, Donington Park and of course Silverstone have hosted rounds of the Formula 1 World Championship. Ferrari has won at least one race at 13 of these in different classes. Several circuits have fallen out of use, such as the famous Brooklands and, more recently, the multi-layout Rockingham venue.
58. The number of Formula 1 World Championship Grands Prix staged at Silverstone, which makes it the third most used in the series, after Monza, currently on 72 and Monaco (69). In the 2020 season, Silverstone hosted two races. It was during the time of Covid-19 and the Northamptonshire facility was home to the British Grand Prix, followed a week later by the 70th Anniversary GP, named to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Formula 1.
59. The number of seemingly random letters in the name Llanfairpwllgwyngyll-
300. The approximate number of languages including sign language and dialects spoken in the United Kingdom, the most of any country in the world, as a result of its multi-cultural society.
46,800. The number of pubs open in the United Kingdom, or one for every 1,456 inhabitants. A significant number, but still no match for Italy which boasts one bar for every 477 of its citizens.