The 2011 Formula One Guide - England Grand Prix Preview


Fri 08 July 2011...Practice 1...09:00 - 10:30 Local (10:00 - 11:30 CEST CAT)
..........................Practice 2...13:00 - 14:30 Local (14:00 - 15:30 CEST CAT)

Sat 09 July 2011..Practice 3...10:00 - 11:00 Local (11:00 - 12:00 CEST CAT)
..........................Qualifying...13:00 Local (14:00 CEST CAT)

Sun 10 July 2011..Race 13:00 Local (14:00 CEST CAT)

After three street type circuits we are back to a race track. A circuit steeped in history which has had Formula One (A) racing here since 1948 and was the setting for the first Championship Race in 1950. The 1950 race was won by Giuseppe Farina in an Alfa Romeo with Pirelli tyres. This is the second fastest race track in terms of average speed, only Monza is faster. Here the average speed of the fastest lap last year was 233.37km/h set by Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) and the speed through the speed trap is 300km/h.

New pit accommodation has been built along with a new pit lane which is now situated between the old turns 10 and 11. The start/finish line is now there, so old turn 11 now becomes new turn 1. All the turn numbers follow on from there. The original names for the turns are still the same, only the numbers are changed. As the drivers and constructors use turn numbers amongst themselves they will not be confused. As the commentators use both names and numbers the viewing public may end up very confused. The 2011 Formula One Guide has issued a circuit diagram with the new turn numbers and the names, and this is in the latest issue of the book.

Aerodynamics will play a large part of this weekend's race. High down force to maximise speed through the fast corners is a must. This circuit favours Red Bull who have done well here in the last two races. Last year Sebastian Vettel qualified on pole position with Mark Webber second. Sebastian went off on the then first corner (now turn 10) and had a puncture which put him at the back of the pack. He still finished 7th. Mark Webber went on to win the race. In 2009 the Red Bulls were 1st and 2nd, Sebastian/Mark, with Rubens Barrichello (Braun) 3rd, 41.1 seconds off the lead. Will the off throttle exhaust blown diffuser ban affect the Red Bulls? Doubtful but let us see.

Weather may also play a part in the race as it has done in the past. The long range forecast is for temperatures with a high of 18oC for all three days and the chances of precipitation of 60% Friday, 30% Saturday and 10% on Sunday. Look what happened in Canada where the long range forecast was for no rain on race day!! The low ambient temperatures will also affect the tyres, it all depends on the track temperatures.

The tyres selected for this race weekend are the hard compound for the prime tyre and the soft compound for the option. The prime tyre is silver marked and the option tyre is yellow. This selection of tyres is to suit this circuit which is rough and is hard on tyres. There are some newly surfaced parts of the track and no one knows how these will behave. The hard tyres will not favour Ferrari who have struggled for performance on them even though this combination has been the most commonly used. At the last race on a non street like circuit, Spain, Fernando Alonso came 5th and was lapped. Five of the eight races run this year have been on the Pirelli hard and soft compound tyres. On the two Friday free practice sessions each driver will also be issued two sets of medium compound tyres, marked white, for evaluation and comparison on this well known circuit.

Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi, drivers for Toro Rosso, can breathe more easily. There were a lot of rumours that Daniel Ricciardo a reserve and test driver for Toro Rosso would replace one of them before the season ends. This is not to happen. In a cooperative deal between Red Bull and HRT, Daniel Ricciardo, who turns 22 on Friday, is to replace Narain Karthikeyan for the remainder of the season. Narain will probably drive in the inaugural India Grand Prix as he is the only Indian national driving in formula one. Red Bull is paying HRT for Daniel to get the driving experience at this highest level of racing. Musical seats?

Eight out of the twelve constructors have their home base in England so for them this is their home grand prix. Expect a lot of updates on the cars this weekend.

Enthusiastic spectators crowd into the grandstands and they are very knowledgeable. The off track entertainment is massive with Red Devils Parachute Display Team, The Red Arrows flying display, live music entertainment each evening and the Sunday after race Grand Prix party. It is a festival as well as a race weekend.

Look for the Caterham brand on the Lotus cars.

This report should be read in conjunction with The 2011 Formula One Guide

Norman Racer

I am a 65 year old male. An electrical engineer. My interest in Formula One started at a very early age and I have over 50 years of following the sport. I was lucky enough to be a race track marshal at Kayalami in the days it hosted F1. I am the author of The 2011 Formula One Guide