Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Formula 1: Silverstone

The Santander British Grand Prix. In what could be Formula 1’s final visit, the Silverstone Circuit near the small village of Silverstone in Northamptonshire, England hosts this year’s round 8 of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship as Donnington Park gets ready to take over as racing hosts starting 2010.

A former airfield built to accommodate racing fanatics back in the 50s, this 5.141-km track is the oldest in Formula 1 today and was the first to host the World Championship. With an emphasis for adrenaline rush, Silverstone is a high speed circuit with a maximum speed attained going into turn 7 at 301 kph (roughly 187 mph), gravitational force of up to 4Gs, and slow corners of around 154 kph.

The climate, too, is especially tricky. Wind gusts play a large part of the car set-up for aerodynamics, downforce and driver skill.

Last year, in what was Lewis Hamilton’s greatest moment racing in home country, the British driver splashed his way to victory in a drenched British Grand Prix while Ferrari driver Felipe Massa helplessly spun countless times in the wet, a testament to his inability to drive through puddles of water in the rain-soaked weekend.

This year, another British driver is expected to drive his way home to victory as Jenson Button of Brawn GP leads contenders to this race. Cushioned by a 26-point lead in the Driver’s category against the nearest competitor teammate Rubens Barrichello, and more than half of the points total against Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel, the Button Man hopes to be the second British driver to win 5 straight races since Jim Clark in the 60s.

However, if on Qualifying and Race Day clouds start to gather and rains pour, Vettel and his Red Bull Renault is expected to dominate over powerhouse Brawn. The German driver was dominant in his RB5 in the showering race that was the Chinese Grand Prix last April.

Will Michael Schumacher’s lap record of 1.18 sec in 2004 during the V10 era still hold against the technically advanced cars of today?

Records up for grab this week.

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