The British Grand Prix preview 07 Jul 2005
There has been little time to do much more than prepare the cars as the teams hot-footed it back across the Channel from France in time to set up camp at Silverstone.
After the engine failure that stymied him in practice at Magny-Cours, Kimi Raikkonen is desperate to start winning again, and having claimed pole position here last year for McLaren the Finn is well fired up. "I always enjoy the British Grand Prix," he says. "Silverstone is a great track to drive and always seems to have entertaining races. Hopefully this will be the case again this year and I will be able to be one step higher on the podium than in 2004."
Team mate Juan Pablo Montoya is also pumped up to do something about his recent run of poor luck, and as McLarens MP4-20 is generally adjudged to be the best chassis/engine package currently, the team have high hopes for the weekend.
Renault, however, will provide tough competition as Fernando Alonso seeks to extend his points lead and Giancarlo Fisichella fights to get through his own bad luck spell. "I think we will be very strong although when we tested there last month, McLaren also looked very quick, so maybe they will be a little bit ahead of us," Fisichella reckons. "But we have new engine developments for Silverstone, which will give us a boost, and I have always had strong races there in the past. The car needs to have quite high levels of downforce and a strong engine, and the R25 has both. We have been strong at every circuit, fighting for the podium everywhere. So we will definitely be aiming for a podium finish."
Ferrari felt they could have had a better race in France had Michael Schumacher not got himself caught up behind Jarno Trullis Toyota in the early laps, and the German and team-mate Rubens Barrichello are quietly optimistic.
Toyota, too, hope for another strong showing. Even though they didnt test there when others did, they feel their substantial database from previous visits will stand them in good stead.
On their home ground, 25 years after their first Grand Prix victory fell to Clay Regazzoni here in 1979, Williams will be seeking ways to expunge the unhappy memories of Magny-Cours. Both Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld will have new BMW P84/5 engines, which should help. There will also be another aerodynamic upgrade. Webber will be fit to race, despite the nasty burns he sustained on his right hip due to an electronic gremlin on his FW27 last weekend.
Red Bull will again partner David Coulthard with Christian Klien. Coulthard, who this week signed a one-year extension of his contract keeping him with the team as lead driver for next year, will be looking to add to his points tally to continue his impressive form this season.
Sauber will have a minor aero upgrade, while Jordan will again run Robert Doornbos in their significantly revised EJ15B on Friday to put further development mileage on it prior to its race debut later in the month. Silverstone is an important race for the team as their factory is across the road from the main entrance. Minardi will run as they did in France.
Meanwhile, BAR have high hopes for their home race.
"My home Grand Prix at Silverstone is always very special to me as I am extremely patriotic and it feels just like coming home, Jenson Button says. "Last year we had a very good experience at the British Grand Prix, as the team and myself had a huge number of the fans, which was a great feeling.
"After the excitement of Magny-Cours, where we had a good result, it feels great to be back in Britain to prepare for our home race. It goes without saying that it would be fantastic to achieve another podium this weekend. I love racing at Silverstone and we completed a very positive test there in June in preparation for the race. It's incredibly moving to drive in front of my home crowd, especially with the sea of Union Jacks down the start-finish straight. Most importantly, this is a weekend when the whole team get to experience the cars at a race weekend and share in our achievements, so I am very excited about the race and hope that we will be able to put on a great show for everyone."
Silverstone is a very demanding circuit, the sweeps of Maggotts and Becketts placing a high premium on aerodynamic efficiency and a cars ability to change direction quickly and without imbalance. The infield also poses problems of grip and traction, and overall the drivers all relish the challenges it poses. Felipe Massa believes that it rates right up their with Spa and Suzuka as a drivers track.
The race will be held over 60 laps of the 5.141 kilometre circuit, and starts at 1300 local time.
Sensitive racegoers may wish to avert their eyes, when the most nervous man at Silverstone takes to the track. This will be Formula One reporter Bob McKenzie, from Britain's Daily Express newspaper, who will run a lap after declaring last year: "If Team McLaren win a race in 2004 I will run naked around Silverstone." Unfortunately for him Kimi Raikkonen was first past the chequered flag at Spa, so the Scot has been in training and will be collecting cheques on behalf of Tommys, The Baby Charity. McKenzie is not expected to trouble the fastest lap time.