WILLIAMS F1 BRITISH GRAND PRIX PREVIEW…
Mike Coughlan, Technical Director: This weekend is the Williams F1 Team’s home race and it is always great to be amongst all our fans. It is also one of our most successful races, with ten wins in total for the team in Britain. The new circuit layout, introduced in 2010, has the second highest average speed of any circuit on the calendar, behind Monza, and the average corner speed is the highest of any circuit this season.
Ambient conditions are typically cool which means good engine power and less chance of thermal degradation in the tyres. The track is relatively rough and tyre energy input is high, higher than Barcelona but much more evenly balanced across the left and right hand sides of the car and more towards the front. Longer range forecasts predict a dry and sunny weekend but whatever conditions we meet, we will be pushing hard to continue the development of the FW35.
Pastor Maldonado: This weekend has been something that the team have been looking forward to all year and I’m proud to be part of this historic moment. Silverstone also happens to be one of my favourite circuits on the calendar. It has a lot of character and some very iconic corners, and the British fans are always very passionate and knowledgeable. With the track being quick and the temperatures usually low it is easy to grain the front tyres and this is something we will have to manage and consider when deciding on the pit stop strategy. The new part of the track is still very green with less grip which is something you have to bear in mind when behind the wheel. Hopefully we can have a strong weekend and score some points to make the weekend even more memorable for the team.
Valtteri Bottas: This is going to be a very special weekend for Williams, celebrating 600 races in front of our home fans at a track which has a lot of history for the team and is great fun to drive. Silverstone is a classic racers track – with some very high speed corners which require a lot of downforce in order to be quick through them. I drove in FP1 last year and at the Young Drivers Test so I have experience of driving a Formula One car at Silverstone which is always helpful in getting up to speed quickly. Normally the track is quite tough on the tyres with quite a bit of graining because the temperatures are cool and the track is very demanding. The weather never makes the circuit any easier due to the often rainy and cold conditions, but after our strong qualifying in Canada in wet conditions I’m confident we would handle this well.
Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 Head of Track Operations: Even with the addition of the new slow loop, Silverstone remains one of the toughest challenges for the engine. A touch over 66% of the lap is spent at full throttle in qualifying and the average speed is well over 200kph. However it is the high speed corners that also challenge the RS27, particularly the sweeping Maggotts-Beckett-Chapel complex. Average speeds through this section are around 250kph and no lower than 190kph at any one point, with huge lateral forces put through the car. The oil and fuel systems therefore have to be resilient as the fluids are squashed from side to side, while the engine needs to be smooth to maintain the speed.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director: The contrast between Silverstone and the last round in Montreal couldn’t be greater: we go from a circuit that’s stop-and-start with big braking areas and aggressive kerbs to one of the fastest and most flowing tracks of the year. We’ve chosen the two hardest compounds in the Formula One range – P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White medium – in order to cope with the high-energy loadings that go hand in hand with the high average speeds you see in Great Britain. The track surface is very smooth, but wear and degradation can be considerable because of all the forces going through the tyres, which peak at around 5g. The big variable in Silverstone is of course the British weather – which is capable of anything. We’ve seen wet and dry races in the past but at the same time it can be very hot too. And obviously, the higher the temperature, the more demands are placed on the tyre. This will be the determining factor for tyre strategy at Silverstone, which as we have seen in the past often has a key influence in the race outcome. Of course strategy begins in qualifying, and we saw from Valtteri Bottas’s Saturday performance in Canada just what a difference it makes to be on the right tyre at the right time.