Silverstone, same as in Monza, the name that needs no introduction, places like these mean what Formula One is all about. Without question the cathedrals of the sport.
This former WWII airfield brings loads of memories into my mind, most notably the sight of 1990, with crowd hero Nigel Mansell lapping in fury, one full second faster, piercing ears with that glorious sounding V12 powered Ferrari F641/2. The echo remains so much present in my mind, it’s hard believing 27 years have passed since that day.
Although – and sadly – the layout of the circuit has changed in different phases, following Mansell’s lap in 1991, many safety updates since 1994, the last and most notable in 2011, bringing the facilities up to modern day demands. So they say.
The old facilities, like the old pit complex, race control and of course Paddock Cafeteria serving English breakfast all morning long still remain. Most folks agree ambience-wise it was much better having that bacon and eggs than walking today around the new “wing” complex.
Hammered in Britain
Following great races in both Canada, and then Azerbaijan, one left Austria feeling the race could have offered a bit more. No question the title war exploded with all that wheel banging in Baku, and before moving on to Silverstone, seeing the long season remaining ahead, with Sebastian Vettel having only a 20-point advantage over Lewis Hamilton, remembering history always repeats itself, one thought it was only a tyre explosion away…
After Silverstone, as a result of this disastrous race for the Italian team, one doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out Mercedes currently has the upper hand on the pulse for the championship. Question now being:
In the wake of four consecutive defeats, can Ferrari react and keep its title hopes alive?
Ferrari as we know, has both endless economic and human resources, but pressing the right buttons under immense pressure is crucial. With only two weeks to go before the next round in Hungary, the red team has no time to waste and must react with immediate effect at the Hungaroring, one race track which has been one of the career talismans for Lewis Hamilton. However, still fresh is Vettel’s fantastic drive to Victory in 2015.
On the constructor front, without question there has also been a turning point of things. Since Barcelona, when Mercedes Benz debuted its highly complex front aero package, race-to-race developments have placed Brackley over the Maranello squad.
To add some spice into the mix, recovering from the disappointing beginning of the season, Red Bull has been doing a superb job understanding and developing the RB13. Having endured a difficult beginning of 2017, the Williams team, with a help from Paddy Lowe, seems to be finding more pace and turning the fortunes of the FW40.
Needless to say, with only a fraction of the budget most teams have, the superb Force India has been delivering the goods all season long, the “Pretty in Pink” VJM10 remains a constant point scorer.
Friday morning the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel sampled the latest version of the cockpit protection, in this case the proposal looking very similar to a fighter jet canopy. In my impression, the car in this new interpretation of the halo looked much sharper, however as Niki Lauda puts it, this whole “HALO” thing definitely kills the DNA we understand being a Formula One car, making them resemble a World Endurance Championship car without fenders.
Celebrating 40 Years of Renault in F1, at Silverstone French racing legend Rene Arnoux gave the RS01, the original grand prix turbo car from 1977 a shakedown around the Northamptonshire circuit.
Other illustrious faces seen visiting F1 during the weekend included 2016 Champ Nico Rosberg, making his second appearance of the 2017 season since Monte-Carlo.
Despite apparently having an engine failure during Saturdays feature race, only to be identified as a minor fluid leak, Ferrari Development driver Charles Leclerc scored another win to firmly stand on top of the F2 championship. Young hot shoe, Nicholas Latifi, drove a solid sprint race from pole position to finish first for the first time if his F2 career. Boosted by solid drives to finish 4th during the feature race, and 3rd during the sprint race, Russian Artem Markelov is still trailing some 67 points behind the Monégasque driver in the driver standings. Oliver Rowland following closely in third position.
GP3 – Forza Alesi!
Setting the fastest lap during the GP3 feature race, the illustrious Alesi name stood once again on top of the podium, this time in the shape of Giuliano Alesi who won during the sprint race his first ever GP3 event.
The previous day in the main race Briton George Russell took the lead of the championship from his team ART team-mate Nirei Fukuzumi while also scoring win in front of his home crowd.