Silverstone - the engineers view 08 Jul 2004
With many of the Formula One teams based in Britain, Silverstone is a circuit with which most are highly familiar. That doesn't mean it is any less of a technical challenge, though.
Willy Rampf, Technical Director, Sauber:
"Silverstone is an extremely demanding circuit. There are some very high-speed sections so aerodynamic efficiency is critical. High-speed stability is paramount through the Maggotts/Becketts sweeps where the drivers have to make accurate directional changes without upsetting the equilibrium of the car. You also need good traction and grip through the infield section of the lap after Bridge Corner, which these days in an F1 car is flat-out. In the slower corners you also are looking for good controllability, but the braking energy here is low. The tyre degradation is relatively high so we run quite hard tyres.
"Since our test in Silverstone before the Monaco Grand Prix we have added the new front wing that we used in Magny-Cours, and for this race we will also have revised rear bodywork. This is the second step in the package of new radiators that we introduced at Monaco. The engine cover is lower and this will enhance airflow over the rear wing, and this has only been possible because the new radiators created such an efficient cooling system. We have not been able to test the new bodywork prior to the British Grand Prix, but we are confident it is an improvement from our wind tunnel tests and will make a full assessment in Friday practice. Furthermore we will use in Silverstone for the first time the latest B specification version of the Petronas V10 engine, which has more horsepower than the currently-used A unit."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director, BAR:
"In Magny-Cours we did not achieve either our full performance potential or reliability and both areas need addressing in the short run up to the British Grand Prix and beyond. The Silverstone circuit requires a harder tyre solution than normal to cope with the very high speed corners and loadings they induce. The harder compounds reduce degradation but this has to be balanced against losing too much grip for the slower speed areas at Club and in the complex. The nature of the corners also requires a car that can be stable under high speed changes of direction without generating lower speed understeer or poor traction. We were able to use the Silverstone test in early June to work on the tyre choices with Michelin and investigate set-up solutions suited to the track. So going into our home race we are confident of fighting for a good result."
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:
Silverstone promises to be an interesting weekend not least because the long-range forecast suggests we will certainly need to put our wet-weather tyres to the test. I feel confident about our chances whatever the conditions. We have done plenty of development work with our dry-weather compounds at Silverstone and the results were most encouraging. Our tyres were certainly very effective in last years corresponding race. Jarno Trulli led convincingly for Renault in the early stages, but a couple of Safety Car periods compromised his chances and ours, as things turned out. This season, we will be out to make amends.
Pascal Vasselon, Michelin F1 programme manager:
Silverstone is one of the test venues we visit most frequently, so teams know it very well. We will be using tyres from the harder end of our range because they are more suited to the circuits fast sweeps and high-speed directional changes. It is not often during the season that a harder tyres handling properties outweigh the advantages of a softer compounds extra grip, but that is the case at Silverstone. The biggest unknown factor, as always, will be the different strategies adopted by teams during qualifying and we bore that in mind when finalising our options. We will have three dry-weather tyres available and these were selected in the wake of recent tests both here and in Barcelona.
Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager, Bridgestone:
"The Silverstone circuit is one of the toughest tracks on the calendar. Its abrasive track surface and high speed nature require that we use tyre compounds from our mid to hard range. The tyres also need to provide good stability through the high speed corners, as well as rear grip in the Silverstone Complex section. We know from previous years' experience which specifications of tyre perform best at Silverstone and we have combined that knowledge with our latest developments to provide four dry tyre specifications for the coming weekend. Furthermore, the Bridgestone teams have traditionally achieved good results at this round of the championship in both wet and dry conditions so whatever the weather this weekend, we can expect them to be competitive again."
Sam Michael, Technical Director, Williams:
Silverstone has a mix of high speed corners, as well as three straights, where power and drag are important, and a slow speed complex towards the end of the lap. Aero efficiency is therefore crucial while the set-up on the cars needs to be geared towards aiding high speed stability without losing too much grip in the complex.
For the British Grand Prix, we will again have some aero and mechanical upgrades on the cars which will hopefully give our drivers an improved package. Silverstone offers a few good overtaking opportunities which encourage exciting racing, as demonstrated at last year's Grand Prix, a race particularly enhanced by safety car stints which put the cars on quite different strategies. Strategy decisions are continually changing at the moment which is interesting, the very different strategies employed at the last Grand Prix was a good example of this.
Dr Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance, Jaguar:
"We are continually developing the R5 and we are starting to see the results of this on track. France was a very strong weekend for us and the race pace of both drivers was very pleasing. Christian is as always learning very fast and his times are improving throughout the weekend. Both drivers are capable of qualifying high and fighting for points this weekend and we will be doing everything we can to ensure that the R5 is well prepared and set-up for them. The track at Silverstone is medium to high down-force and the attrition level is relatively low so we should have a good competitive race on Sunday. We have been focusing on our starts recently and these have improved following our test in Barcelona. As we know, that first corner is all-important and we are looking to hold our place if not improve it in that first stint this weekend and in all races to come. I must thank the factory for all their hard work this week since they have done an outstanding job to turn everything around in time, these back to back races do make it much harder for us all, but we have a fantastic team and some great partners who are extremely proactive.
Bob Bell, Technical Director, Renault:
When we tested there (Silverstone), we suffered from the familiar problem of the changeable wind direction, and the R24 seemed quite sensitive to it. However, this particularly compounded the driveability problems we were then suffering from, and significant improvements have been made in this area since then. Barcelona and Silverstone are similar circuits: having been competitive in Spain, we are reasonably optimistic for the coming weekend, but Ferrari and BAR will be quick, while McLaren now seem to be back in the mix as well, and potentially capable of taking points from any of the top three teams in the event of a lapse.
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director Chassis, Toyota:
"Silverstone is an exciting race track for F1 cars with several high speed corners. The set-up we will adopt will be similar to that of Barcelona. It is another maximum downforce track, which we know is not a positive trait of our TF104. In qualifying, I think we have demonstrated a reasonably strong performance, but at this type of circuits we generally struggle with race pace. We are working flat out to produce new parts for the updated car which will debut in Hockenheim, so we are not bringing any major new parts to Silverstone. The British Grand Prix will be the last race we run this specification of TF104, but we must remember that the car which will run in Hockenheim is merely the start of a process, rather than an end of the 2004 development process. But first we have to turn our complete attention to Silverstone, where we have to ensure our excellent reliability rate is maintained and to see if we can pick up any points on Sunday afternoon."
James Robinson, Head of Race and Test Engineering, Jordan:
"Its great to be back at our home Grand Prix and its a track that we test at quite regularly. Its a high speed, high grip circuit. We have been working with Bridgestone over the last few months to develop a tyre for the track and we are very happy with the decision on tyres for this weekend. The forecast is for typical English weather, very changeable over the weekend with some rain around so hopefully we can show what the Bridgestone wet tyres can do as well.
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, McLaren:
The Mobil 1 French Grand Prix demonstrated that MP4-19B has provided us with a major step forwards in terms of overall performance. We are all fully aware, however, that another significant step is required to reach the level we as a team strive for. As the British Grand Prix sees the final back-to-back of the season, there is no opportunity to test this week, however we have the benefit of having tested 19B at Silverstone a couple of weeks ago and we have some further developments to bring on line for our home race.