Tag Archives: British GP

Where now for Formula 1 and Pirelli?

It’s obvious that the tyres failures that marred today’s British Grand Prix were extremely dangerous, and preventive measures must be put in place for the future. Although today’s debacle was not entirely their fault, the fact that the tyres have been delaminating in previous races as well proves that Pirelli needs to put in some serious work if it is to survive in this sport.

In both the Malaysian and Bahrain Grands Prix, Lewis Hamilton suffered tyre blowouts at high speed. Seeing as how the Mercedes is known to impose heavy wear on their tyres, it wouldn’t be out of the question to assume that degradation – a feature intentionally implemented by Pirelli – is contributing to these incidents.

However, the high degradation was requested by the FIA, in order to shift racing to a Canada 2010-style of tyre strategy. While this has worked (mostly), the consequences of high-fragility tyres are now clearly visible.

Pirelli are unlikely to revert to “concrete” tyres, as it would hurt their brand imaging to do such a u-turn in the public eye. However, it is completely unfeasible to keep the tyres the way they are, with such huge safety concerns having arisen this weekend.

Motorsport director Paul Hembery has already stated that the company’s new bonding method to construct the tyres is not the fault, so there is something more fundamental to blame. It is possible that the Turn 4 kerbs contributed to these incidents, but they are no different to any other kerbs on the calendar.

Therefore, it is likely that the 2013-spec tyres are reacting poorly to high levels of wear at demanding tracks like Silverstone. If this is the case, there wouldn’t have been a problem this weekend if Pirelli had originally had their way – the teams vetoed their suggestion to race more conservative constructs from early on this year.

In desperation, they turned to in-season testing, which I’m sure you’ve heard all about. Two tests were completed after Bahrain – one with Ferrari at the Sakhir circuit, and the infamous one with Mercedes in Barcelona. This only resulted in even more negative PR for the company that was only trying to fix a mess they were forced into.

If the drivers and teams are looking to ensure their safety on track, then they must be more willing to allow Pirelli to introduce changes. It is widely believed that Ferrari and Lotus vetoed Pirelli’s plans in order to gain an advantage over their rivals – and this must be stopped if the drivers’ safety is to be ensured.

At the very least, the next race at the Nurburgring will be much easier on the tyres than in Silverstone, as will the Hungaroring. Hopefully this will allow the teams, the FIA and Pirelli to work out a safe solution, not one that is manipulated in order to gain speed advantages at the cost of safety.

Points standings after British Grand Prix

Driver Standings

Driver Points
1 Sebastian Vettel 132
2 Fernando Alonso 111
3 Kimi Raikkonen 98
4 Lewis Hamilton 89
5 Mark Webber 87
6 Nico Rosberg 82
7 Felipe Massa 57
8 Paul di Resta 36
9 Romain Grosjean 26
10 Jenson Button 25
11 Adrian Sutil 23
12 Jean-Eric Vergne 13
13 Sergio Perez 12
14 Daniel Ricciardo 11
15 Nico Hulkenberg 6
16 Pastor Maldonado 0
17 Valtteri Bottas 0
18 Jules Bianchi 0
19 Charles Pic 0
20 Esteban Gutierrez  0
21 Giedo van der Garde  0
22 Max Chilton  0

Constructor Standings

Team Points
1 Red Bull 219
2 Mercedes 171
3 Ferrari 168
4 Lotus 124
5 Force India 59
6 McLaren 37
7 Toro Rosso 24
8 Sauber-Ferrari 6
9 Williams-Renault 0
10 Marussia-Cosworth 0
11 Caterham-Renault 0

Hamilton storms to pole position for British Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton has delighted the home fans by taking pole position for his home Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Mercedes have locked out the front row, with the Red Bulls of Vettel and Webber on row 2 ready to attack. Ferrari and McLaren has poor sessions, with Fernando Alonso only starting 10th, and neither McLaren making it into Q3.


In a dry but windy session, Mercedes were quick off the mark. A 1:30.995 by Hamilton was the quickest lap all weekend, and saw no response in the first session.

Ferrari almost suffered a huge embarrassment, with their drivers lying 14th and 15th. In particular, Felipe Massa remained in the drop zone until the final few minutes, only matching his teammate’s time despite being on the faster compound tyre.

Esteban Gutierrez was knocked out of Q1 for the 6th time in 8 races, while Pastor Maldonado’s final lap put Valtteri Bottas back in 17th place. While Max Chilton qualified 22nd, Giedo van der Garde will start from the back, after his 10-place grid penalty from Canada.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

17) Valtteri Bottas – 1:32.664

18) Esteban Gutierrez – 1:32.666

19) Charles Pic – 1:33.866

20) Jules Bianchi – 1:34.108

21) Giedo van der Garde – 1:35.48 1

22) Max Chilton – 1:35.858


Sebastian Vettel’s initial run in Q2 was 0.005 seconds faster than Hamilton’s Q1 lap – a signal that Red Bull were still in the running.

With an empty seat left by Webber at the end of this year, both Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo were keen to impress. However, Vergne ran wide on his final lap, and could only manage 13th, while Ricciardo made it into Q3.

Both McLarens were knocked out, taking only 11th and 14th places. Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen almost joined them, surprisingly, but both drivers scraped through.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Jenson Button – 1:31.649

12) Felipe Massa – 1:31.779

13) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:31.785

14) Sergio Perez – 1:32.082

15) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:32.211

16) Pastor Maldonado – 1:32.359


A 4-way shootout was on the cards, with both Mercedes and Red Bull duking it out in Q3. Mark Webber was first up, setting a 1:30.505, but this was quickly beaten by Nico Rosberg by almost half a second.

Hamilton then put himself on top, while Vettel’s first attempt only put him 4th. With a few minutes to go, Rosberg’s second flying lap was initially faster, until a blinding lap by Lewis put him 4 tenths clear of the rest of the field.

Vettel could only slot in front of Webber in response, locking out the second row.

Raikkonen and Alonso were the disappointments of the day, only managing 9th and 10th respectively. Almost unnoticed performances were done by Paul di Resta and Daniel Ricciardo, taking 5th and 6th places. Adrian Sutil was 7th, while Romain Grosjean marginally beat Raikkonen to 8th place.

Hamilton was ecstatic to take pole in front of his home crowd, but will he be able to hold off his 3 rivals behind?

From the stands: British Grand Prix

I’ll remember this year’s British Grand Prix as the first ever F1 race I visited. Even casual fans have heard of the calamitous weather that struck Silverstone and much of the UK last weekend, so clearly it wasn’t the most optimal start to my fanaticism.

Still, it was a fantastic experience, and a trip I can absolutely reccommend to any Formula 1 fan.

I thought I would describe my experiences at the circuit with a more detailed than usual article, possibly to serve as advice for first-time spectators next year.


We (me and my dad) stayed in Northampton for the weekend, taking a bus from the bus station at 8 every morning. Sounds simple enough, right?

Not so on Friday. After spending nearly an hour in a seemingly endless traffic jam, one man told the bus driver to turn off the motorway, and take the back roads instead. It worked, and half an hour later we were trudging our way through mud to the circuit.

We had turned off a few metres before the end of the junction, and if we had stayed on the main road, we would have been caught in the infamous 6-hour jam that caught up thousands of fans, and even some F1 personnel. Disaster avoided by millimetres.

The classic F1 cars are a different world compared to modern machines

The classic F1 cars are a different world compared to modern machines

We arrived at the circuit slightly late, and my first hearing of an F1 car was over half a mile away from the track. It wasn’t any bit quieter though, as the screaming V8 engines rattled the insides of my eardrums (note: you must bring earplugs). The sound is something you can never get used to – as it approaches, it’s innocently quiet(ish), but as it blasts past, the exhausts blast out 18000 rpm of unbridled screaming. Awesome stuff.

For Practice 1, we sat at Woodcote corner, which was excellent for watching the cars accelerate out of Luffield, and power all the way down to Copse. As a budding amateur photographer, I moved down to the standing section at the bottom of the grandstand, but after a few minutes was asked to move back by the stewards. In hindsight, I was probably blocking someone’s view!

The F1 cars did limited running on Friday, but it doesn’t seem that way from the spectator’s point of view. As long as there’s a few cars out on track, there’s plenty to keep you entertained. We watched GP2 practice and Historic F1 from the same spot, and moved on after lunch.

One of my favourite shots from Friday

One of my favourite shots from Friday

For Practice 2, we moved on to the International Pit Straight. FP2 was notable for having very little on-track action, but again we were entertained, this time by the entire grandstand, aided by the Club stand, performing half-mile mexican waves during the wait. The Marussia mechanics eventually came out of their garage, and applauded us for keeping up the atmosphere.

Kamui Kobayashi was a joy to watch – he threw his Sauber around the corners lap after lap, and earned himself a cheer every time he went around. By far the bravest of the drivers in very challenging conditions, and I’ve earned a lot more respect for him.

In terms of traffic, it was by far the worst day. Once back in the hotel, we heard about the horror stories of being stuck in 8-hour jams, and of F1 engineers not being able to get to the track. It’s a complete joke – no matter how much Richard Phillips pretends to apologise, his organisation of the race was a farce, and he must be held accountable. This has been going on for years, and fan facilities are still on par with something you’d see at Glastonbury.


Alonso and Hamilton battle it out - the best moment from the weekend

Alonso and Hamilton battle it out – the best moment from the weekend

For Saturday, we started off back at Woodcote, as we got held up in traffic again, and had to run to the nearest grandstand before Saturday practice began. We saw Sergio Perez run wide onto the grass (missed by the cameras I think), and plenty more on-track activity.

For qualifying, we made the brave choice to move to an open grandstand at Stowe – a very bad call from myself. Within minutes of Q2 we were completely soaked, and with no umbrella between us, we hid underneath the scaffolding of the stand, as it’s design allowed us (and some marshals!) to shelter from the rain.

This went on for far too long

This went on for far too long

With the red flag thrown, it was a miserable hour-long wait for the sky to clear. Listening to the chatter on Radio Silverstone was entertaining enough, but soon lost its charm. We raced over to Club corner, and somehow found the last 2 seats in the covered area, a spot of magnificent luck.

Even better was the sights we saw in the rest of qualifying. Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso went wheel-to-wheel battling for clear track, and Alonso shoved his way around the outside of the McLaren – an absolutely fantastic and unnecessary move.

Colletti goes thundering through the standing water

Colletti goes thundering through the standing water

Nico Rosberg went clattering into the gravel, soon followed by Romain Grosjean, who was beached and ended his day prematurely. Hamilton earned a roar of support every time he went past, but it wasn’t enough for him to challenge the frontrunners. I was very impressed by Webber’s pace, but ultimately Alonso was deservedly on pole.

We stayed put for GP2, which started under the safety car. This went on for far too long, as the track was visibly drying before racing got underway. Luckily, the next two safety car appearances only lasted for a lap each, so it didn’t slow down the action too much. Luiz Razia was very impressive, passing many cars right in front of us. Fabio Lemer was well in control of the race, and should have won, but unfortunately strategy ruined his day.

There was nearly a nasty crash when Stefano Colletti plowed straight through the standing water on the grass, and nearly clashed with another car on the exit of the corner. Luckily, he regained control of the car and continued on.

GP3 was viewed from Abbey corner, which I wouldn’t reccommend as much as the others. It’s not bad, but you only can see the beginning of the Village sequence, and can’t even see down the pit straight or even half of the pit lane, as half of it is lowered.

The race was relatively uneventful, aside from one wheel-to-wheel battle, when it occurred to me how insanely close these cars were battling. You have to see it with your own eyes to understand how brilliant these drivers are, to not smash their cars into the barriers at every pass.


Paul di Resta had another off on Lap 2, unknown to the cameras

Paul di Resta had another off on Lap 2, unknown to the cameras

Despite the doomsday reports from Sky News, the weather stayed put, and the traffic somehow managed to calm itself. It was lucky for both the fans and Silverstone managing director Richard Phillips – another farce like Friday and he would have been forced to step down.

We had grandstand tickets in Becketts, one of the finest corners in modern F1. The views are unbeatable – you can see all of Becketts, the Village sequence, the Wellington straight and even a tiny bit of Stowe. There was a screen opposite the corner, and staying tuned to Radio Silverstone kept us in the loop.

In the GP2 sprint race, there was very nearly a horrible accident. After one of the Marussia Manor cars got beached on a kerb, the marshals ran out to move the car, but astoundingly the safety car wasn’t called out. Another car approached the corner, and in his haste to slow down, span and nearly wiped out everyone involved. Far too close a call.

In the F1 race, Felipe Massa earned a cheer for holding off Sebastian Vettel through Becketts. Lewis Hamilton did extremely well in his first stint, staying with the frontrunners despite being on inferior tyres. Taking the lead for a solitary lap, as well as duelling with Alonso again, was a joy to watch.

Paul di Resta had a puncture, as seen on TV, but his second lap after his pit stop was even more dramatic. He spun halfway through Becketts, and limped back to the pits, his race well and truly over.

Hamilton and Button applaud the fans

Hamilton and Button applaud the fans

The first half of the race was a complete blur, with passes and overtakes enough to keep us all entertained. The second half was less exciting, but the strategic battle up front was mesmerising. Webber and Alonso thrashed their cars in and out of Becketts lap after lap, the gap changing by milliseconds every time.

Eventually, Webber pushed his way into the lead with a few laps to go, earning another roar of approval from the crowd. Personally I would have preferred an Alonso victory, but Webber is fine too!

Afterwards, the marshals let everyone onto the track after half an hour, after they had a chance to clear up fire extinguishers from their posts – or so they told us. Many I heard from were disappointed they couldn’t get in sooner, and were unable to watch the podium celebrations. Still, we walked part of the track, and picked up some tyre marbles as souvenirs. They’re really odd to look at, being shredded bits of rubber and all, but it was nice to keep a bit of an F1 car with us.


It was a fantastic weekend, and I can reccommend the trip for anyone, but this track isn’t without its downfalls. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fabulous circuit, and a joy to see and hear the cars, but the surrounding infrastructure is absuloutely pathetic.

Being one of the greatest racing tracks, I’d love to push it as the one and only racing venue to go to, but European F1 circuits are so much more modernised and accessible. Walking to the track – everyone has to do it, no matter how you get there – is a shambles, with more mud than anything else. Tiny sections had temporary walkways, but that was it. You’d find better organisation at a garden fete.

If you”re going to go, dress like you’re going to Glastonbury, and I’m not joking. I wore normal shoes, and left the track every day completely soaked as a result. Wellies are in the majority at Silverstone, not the tiny minority like I initially thought.

Once you get past the rubbish infrastructure, it’s an unforgettable experience, though. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.


  • Wear boots or wellies for footwear. Nothing else will do.
  • Earplugs may not be 100% necessary, depending on your sensitivity and where you’re standing, but you can’t leave such a massive risk. Bring plenty of spares, as you may need to loan out some as well.
  • If you’re looking at taking decent-quality photos, take a telephoto lens with at least 150mm of focal length. I used a Sigma 70-300 DG for all my photos, and they came out much better than I would have expected. I brought a 50mm prime as well, but had no use for it.
  • For grandstands, I reccommend Club or Becketts as my favourites. Close behind is the International Pit Straight. All of these have the great atmosphere, views, and sound that you would expect. Stowe is good for only one corner – you can’t see down to Club.
  • Avoid the food around the track. You can probably tell why.
  • Bring coats and umbrellas, no matter how good the weather looks, we’re talking about British weather here!
  • Enjoy yourself, this may be a once in a lifetime experience, and you’ll want to get the most out of it. For Friday and Saturday, pick some grandstands, and watch the cars fly by. For Sunday, if you’re using a General Admission ticket, there’s still a few good spots even at 9 or 10 in the morning, so keep an eye out. The Hangar Straight is extremely close to the track, and fairly scant of supporters compared to other corners.

Points standings after British Grand Prix

Driver Standings

Driver Points
1 Fernando Alonso 129
2 Mark Webber 116
3 Sebastian Vettel 100
4 Lewis Hamilton 92
5 Kimi Raikkonen 83
6 Nico Rosberg 75
7 Romain Grosjean 61
8 Jenson Button 50
9 Sergio Perez 39
10 Pastor Maldonado 29
11 Paul di Resta 27
12 Michael Schumache 23
13 Felipe Massa 23
14 Kamui Kobayashi 21
15 Bruno Senna 18
16 Nico Hulkenberg 7
17 Jean-Eric Vergne 4
18 Daniel Ricciardo  2
19 Timo Glock  0
20 Charles Pic  0
21 Vitaly Petrov  0
22 Heikki Kovalainen 0
23 Pedro de la Rosa 0
24 Narain Karthikeyan 0

Constructor Standings

Team Points
1 Red Bull-Renault 176
2 Ferrari 137
3 Lotus-Renault 126
4 McLaren-Mercedes 122
5 Mercedes AMG 92
6 Sauber-Ferrari 60
7 Williams-Renault 45
8 Force India-Mercedes 44
9 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 6
10 Caterham-Renault 0
11 Marussia-Cosworth 0
12 HRT-Cosworth 0

Webber snatches late win in Silverstone

Paul di Resta's race is ruined on Lap 1...

Paul di Resta’s race is ruined on Lap 1…

Mark Webber has won the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, after taking the lead with only a few laps to go. Fernando Alonso controlled most of the race from the front, but was unable to halt the Aussie’s assault in the closing laps.

...And gets even worse on Lap 2

…And gets even worse on Lap 2

Sebastian Vettel made progress in his first stint, but lacked the pace to catch his teammate, finishing 3rd. Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean impressed, while the British duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button disappointed. Here is what happened:

Alonso defended his lead at the start, while teammate Massa moved past Sebastian Vettel. Paul di Resta was hit on the first lap, and pitted to replace a punctured tyre. However, a spin on the following lap ruled him out of the race.

Kamui Kobayashi made a fantastic move around the outside of Romain Grosjean and Jenson Button. Massa attempted to pass Michael Schumacher for 3rd, but slipped wide and lost a position to Vettel instead.

The Ferrari soon found a way past again, and by lap 9 was all over the back of Schumacher again.A few laps later, he pushed his way past at Stowe corner. Further back, Sergio Perez incurred the wrath of Pastor Maldonado, after attempting to pass the Williams. Pastor ran wide, and knocked the Sauber off the track and out of the race.

Massa fends off Vettel at Becketts

Massa fends off Vettel at Becketts

By lap 19, Hamilton had still not pitted, and found himself leading the race – albeit briefly. The charging Alonso quickly caught the McLaren, and passed Lewis with relative ease.

Once on fresh tyres, Hamilton found a way past Michael Schumacher for 7th place, following Kimi Raikkonen a few corners earlier.

Romain Grosjean was forced to pit early with a broken front wing, but soon made progress through the field. By lap 35, he passed Jenson Button for 9th place, and was stuck to the back of Hamilton’s McLaren. Effective use of DRS allowed the Lotus through to 8th position.

A bad day was made worse for Sauber, as Kamui Kobayashi clattered into his mechanics at his final pit stop. Several were taken to the medical centre for checks, but fortunately there were no serious injuries.

Up front, the battle for the lead began to materialise. With 15 laps to go, Webber was running on the prime tyres, while Alonso took on the options, which surprisingly the Ferrari struggled on. This allowed the Red Bull to close up on the Ferrari by half a second per lap.

Alonso was visibly struggling on the options, unable to get the tyres into the operating temperature. With 5 laps to go, Mark finally made his move, pushing past the Ferrari on the Wellington Straight, and sailing around the outside of Brooklands to take the lead.

Further back, Bruno Senna and Nico Hulkenberg had an exciting battle for 9th, with the Williams winning out. Hulkenberg ran wide at Copse, allowing Jenson Button to steal a point on the final lap.

The McLarens were disappointed, but thank the fans regardless

The McLarens were disappointed, but thank the fans regardless

Kimi Raikkonen was catching Felipe Massa for 4th place hand over fist, but a mistake on the final lap.

Alonso had no response to Webber, who crossed the line to take his second win of the 2012 season, and his second British Grand Prix win in three years. The Aussie has now closed in on Alonso in the drivers’ championship, and Red Bull have cemented their lead in the constructors’ standings.

Lotus now are ahead of McLaren in the championship, as the Woking squad retreat and analyse what has gone wrong in the 2012 season.

Playing catchup

I’m sure you’ve noticed a lack of articles in recent days, sorry about that. I was off in Silverstone for the race last weekend, and haven’t had a chance to update the blog.

On the plus side, I’ll be putting up a few articles about the fan experience of the British Grand Prix, as well as a few photos I took across the weekend.

That’ll be later though – I’m absolutely wrecked, and need a good night’s sleep! Normal service will resume tomorrow…

New development plans for Silverstone

Silverstone appears set for another redevelopment

Silverstone appears set for another redevelopment

After the construction of a new pit and paddock facility last year, the owners of the Silverstone circuit have moved forward with plans for further development of the area.

2011 was the first year that F1 cars raced using the new complex, called “The Wing”, as well as a relocated start/finish straight and new grandstand.

Today, news has emerged that the owners wish to add a business park, technology park, education campus, three hotels, a new karting track as well as an outdoor stage to the current track.

Spectator facilities are also being planned, which are known to include a museam of motorsport.

This development is being touted as “the most important initiative that Silverstone has taken in its 60-year history” by managing director Richard Philips:

"Approval of this planning application will help maintain Silverstone’s position as 
a leading global centre for sport, leisure, education and technology and support its 
vision of becoming a world-leading motor sport destination."

British Grand Prix stats and facts

The most notable record from yesterday’s British Grand Prix was that Fernando Alonso has equalled Jackie Stewart’s 27 Formula 1 victories. Here’s more stats from this weekend:

  • Alonso also set the fastest lap, his 19th of his career, as many as Ayrton Senna, Damon Hill and Stirling Moss. It is the 225th fastest lap by a Ferrari driver.
  • Pirelli have claimed that 585 overtaking moves have been completed so far this season (not including undercutting in pit stops, or any move on the first lap). 547 overtakes were made in the whole of the 2010 season.
  • Interestingly, Vettel’s domination of 2011 almost exactly matches Alonso’s start to the 2006 season. In both cases, both drivers took 6 wins and 3 2nd places in the first 9 races.
  • This was Sebastian Vettel’s 14th front row start in a row. He has 32 in total (22 from pole) out of 71 race entries, a rate of 45% – which is the 4th highest in F1 history. Only Clark, Fangio and Senna have higher percentages.
  • Vettel has also secured 11 podium positions in a row – a record only beaten by Alonso and Schumacher.
  • 9 of those podiums were from the start of this season, as many as Lewis Hamilton (2007) and Fernando Alonso (2006). Only Michael Schumacher has more podiums in a row from the start of a season, taking 17 in a row in 2002.
  • Renault suffered their worst qualifying this year – with 14th and 16th places for Petrov and Heidfeld.
  • In terms of most career points without becoming world champion, Mark Webber has moved into 2nd place, 0.5 points ahead of David Coulthard.
  • Sergio Perez equalled his best result with 7th place.
  • Daniel Ricciardo’s debut means that there are two Australian F1 drivers for the first time in 34 years.

Points standings after British Grand Prix

Driver Standings

Driver Points
1 Sebastian Vettel 204
2 Mark Webber 124
3 Fernando Alonso 112
4 Lewis Hamilton 109
5 Jenson Button 109
6 Felipe Massa 52
7 Nico Rosberg 40
8 Nick Heidfeld 34
9 Vitaly Petrov 31
10 Michael Schumacher 28
11 Kamui Kobayashi 25
12 Adrian Sutil 10
13 Jaime Alguersuari 9
14 Sergio Perez 8
15 Sebastien Buemi 8
16 Rubens Barrichello 4
17 Paul di Resta 2
18 Pedro de la Rosa 0
19 Jarno Trulli 0
20 Vitantonio Liuzzi 0
21 Jerome D’Ambrosio 0
22 Heikki Kovalainen 0
23 Narain Karthikeyan 0
2425 Pastor MaldonadoTimo Glock 00

Constructor Standings

Team Points
1 Red Bull-Renault 328
2 McLaren-Mercedes 218
3 Ferrari 164
4 Mercedes GP 68
5 Renault 65
6 Sauber-Ferrari 33
7 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 17
8 Force India-Mercedes 12
9 Williams-Cosworth 4
10 Lotus-Cosworth 0
11 HRT-Cosworth 0
12 Virgin-Cosworth 0