Text: Alex Yoong / Photos: | posted July 06, 2012 13:16
The British Grand Prix is the second race on the F1 calendar that teams usually plan to bring big updates to their cars, following Barcelona as the first leg in Europe.
The British Grand Prix is also the home race for nine of the 12 teams, making it easier to get parts too. Silverstone is also a high-speed track that is similar to Barcelona, making it an aero-efficient circuit. This means any aero-related updates, such as wings or floors, will have a big effect here.
However, the impact of this has lost some significance this season because the field has been so close. Teams have had to be very aggressive in their updates, meaning that almost every team is bringing new parts for the European races.
At Valencia's qualifying race, we saw the top 14 cars covered by three-tenths of a second. It is imperative for everyone to try and bring every new part online quicker.
One team that has shown ominous speed in the last race was Red Bull. Vettel's pace in the first half of the race before he retired was staggering. They have brought in a new exhaust and side-pod arrangements and they will start as favorites for this weekend, unless one of the other teams can match that development.
You can also count on teams like McLaren and Lotus bringing lots of goodies for their "home" Grand Prix, and they will be reasonably optimistic to be competitive this weekend.
The track has with lots of long high-speed corners, and that makes it one of the more enjoyable circuits for the drivers to race on. With Pirelli bringing the soft and hard tires and the cooler conditions, this should mean that tyre degradation should be less than previous races. And with Silverstone being so difficult to overtake on, expect teams going for 1 or 2 stops.
It will be a different challenge from the last three circuits, which have all been street tracks of some kind, where the onus has been on mechanical grip and traction.
So the high-speed nature may throw up some different teams at the front like perhaps the Williams. Maldonado went well at Barcelona and they will expect him to go well this weekend too. There will be lots of pressure on Bruno Senna too, as he has not been able to show the same pace as his Williams team mate.
My feeling is that Ferrari will be very competitive this weekend. They may be leading the Drivers Championship with Alonso, but that's due to the brilliance of the driver as the car has not been a pole position contender all year. The fast track will suit them, and with Alonso also winning here last year, I think they will be the most confident they have been all year about fighting for pole position.
Alonso will be feeling good about the Championship now. He knows that with the field being so competitive, he just needs to keep being consistent as it will be difficult for anyone to go on a winning streak.
And while it looks like there are about 10 possible winners at each race we go to, I feel that only Vettel and Hamilton are capable of going on a streak of wins.
Those are the two drivers Alonso will be keeping a close eye on from now to the end of the championship.