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Great Britain preview - Ferrari ready to fight back 27 Jun 2013

Race winner Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari celebrate with the champagne on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 8 July 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 7 July 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing with young fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 27 June 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 27 June 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.
Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Montreal, Canada, Saturday, 8 June 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Practice, Silverstone, England, Friday, 6 July 2012 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-28
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 27 June 2013 James Rossiter (GBR) Force India test driver.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Jerez, Spain, Thursday, 7 February 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 7 July 2012 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW34.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 7 July 2012 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team walks the track.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 27 June 2013 The wing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 27 June 2013 Pirelli tyre.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 27 June 2013

Ferrari firmly believe that Silverstone will suit their F138 and give Fernando Alonso a strong chance of pulling back some points from Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel. Meanwhile, as Lotus regroup after two bruising races, Mercedes and McLaren are only cautiously optimistic about their drivers’ home races.

The odds favour Red Bull and Ferrari. Vettel won here in 2009, Mark Webber in 2010 and 2012, and Alonso in 2011 as Ferrari celebrated the 60th anniversary of their first-ever world championship race victory, which came courtesy of the late Froilan Gonzalez in this very race in 1951.

“Our car is very good on this sort of circuit, and I think we can be strong this weekend,” Alonso says, while Vettel believe that Red Bull’s aerodynamic excellence will work in his favour. “It’s a circuit that I love and which has always been good to us,” the reigning world champion says, “so we are hoping that we will be very competitive.”

Mercedes will have further modifications to improve the feel of the brakes for Lewis Hamilton, but know that this will be the acid test of how much they have got on top of their tyre degradation issues which were at their worst in Bahrain. Hamilton believes that the high-speed nature of the demanding Northamptonshire circuit could exacerbate the problem.

"It's the perfect place to overheat your tyres and degrade them,” he says. “A repeat of our third place in Canada would be great but I won’t settle for anything but wins. Canada was a good weekend - an okay weekend - but I still don’t have a win. Nico (Rosberg) has won a race, so I need to get a win.

“Our car was great in the race in Canada, but we need another big step. I’m hoping for some more new bits for my home race that will help the balance of our car - changes to the ride height, the master cylinders and to the brakes themselves. We still need to improve the brakes, because that’s where Fernando was catching me everywhere in that race.”

He insists that he isn’t demoralised, and adds: “I want to win at home, in my heart. Going to Silverstone is always a special one for me, and I want to give the fans a good result, for sure. I want to be as high up as I can possibly be. It's important to have a Brit on the podium. If I can be on pole there it would be incredible, like 2007 all over again.

"I think the car we have is definitely closer to being a winner than what I have had for a couple of years, so I’m looking forward to seeing what it can do. I think it’ll go really well. We’ve made some small steps with our tyre issues but we know that Silverstone will be a huge challenge for us, so fingers crossed.”

McLaren have an enviable record in Great Britain: 14 victories since 1973 make them the second most successful constructor in the event’s history (one win behind Ferrari). Seeking to improve that remarkable record, they only decided on Tuesday evening what package to take to Silverstone, following straight-line tests of further significant modifications that day at Spain’s Idiada circuit which are aimed at increasing downforce.

"We were testing some fundamental understanding issues as well as parts,” explained managing director Jonathan Neale. “We’ll wait until Friday afternoon to see what remains on the car for Saturday, depending on how successful a free practice it’s been.”

Jenson Button, looking for his first podium at Silverstone and the 50th of his career, says: “Any driver’s home race is a special thing, but racing at Silverstone means so much to me: it’s the place where I grew up watching Formula One - I first came here in 1994 - and it’s also a race that means so much to Grand Prix racing’s history and heritage.

“It’s just unique: to race on the same track as Fangio, Clark, Stewart and Senna is cool, and you always feel the echoes of the past when you arrive at the circuit for the first time. Even though it’s almost changed beyond recognition since 1950, and is now one of the best Grand Prix facilities in the world, it’s still lost none of that special atmosphere. I love it.

“One of the most amazing things at Silverstone has been the level of support I’ve seen every single year. From the garage, on the slow-down lap, on the drivers’ parade, or just on the way to the paddock in the morning, you see the fans cheering you on. Silverstone really reverberates to fan-power.

“After our difficult weekend in Canada, I’ll be hoping for a more representative weekend at home. Although the race in Montreal was disappointing, I still feel that it wasn’t a fully accurate reflection of where we are as a team - on a smoother track like Silverstone, I’m optimistic that we’ll fare better. Of course, I don’t want to raise everyone’s expectations: I think the fans know what to expect. For me, my goal will be to get the maximum from the package and to race as hard as I can - that’ll be a satisfactory outcome for me.”

Down at local team Force India, simulator driver James Rossiter will - assuming it's dry - make his Grand Prix weekend debut when he takes over Adrian Sutil’s car for Friday’s opening practice session. Meanwhile, Paul di Resta needs a good result to make up for the disappointments he’s suffered through no fault of his own during qualifying in both Monaco and Canada, and comes fresh off a very strong race drive in the latter that was his sixth points finish in 2013’s first seven races.

“I think we can be pretty happy with that,” he says of the statistic. “All things considered we’ve managed to get some good results and kept up our momentum. The last two results, in particular, felt very satisfying, especially because we managed to get the strategy spot on to come through the field. These results set us up nicely for this weekend, which is a massive one for everyone in the team.

“Silverstone is always a highlight of the year. When I was young I dreamed about coming here as a Formula One driver so it’s always a very special weekend. As a venue it’s spectacular with some of the greatest corners of the year and the atmosphere is just incredible. The place is packed all weekend and the buzz from the fans gives you so much energy.

“With the way our car is working these tyres at the moment, we are looking really healthy. I believe this car is the best we've ever had and everyone in the team is working hard to squeeze even more performance from it. The key for Silverstone is hopefully to get three successful days in a row on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That’s what we did in Bahrain and it really paid off. If we can do it at Silverstone, then hopefully we can make a big impact on the race.”

Elsewhere, this race will see Williams celebrating 600 race starts (though technically they reach the landmark at the next round in Germany). As a mark of respect for the late Lady Virginia Williams (wife of Sir Frank), whose memorial ceremony in London on Tuesday morning was attended by hundreds of F1 insiders, the cars will forever onwards bear butterfly logos on their noses, starting with this meeting.

At Marussia, Max Chilton makes his first start in his home Grand Prix, determined not just to beat the local Caterhams but also to overshadow fleet team mate Jules Bianchi.

In its latest iteration Silverstone represents a terrific challenge, with a mixture of high- and medium-speed corners and high G loadings, and a relatively abrasive surface that will test teams’ tyre degradation to the limit.

Pirelli won’t have revised tyres with Kevlar belt here after all, but during free practice on Friday each of the teams will have the opportunity to test two sets of the prototype hard tyres last seen in Barcelona when free practice was affected by rain which precluded any serious data gathering. The tyres more closely duplicate the characteristics of Pirelli’s 2012 rubber.

"This is in order to give the teams the chance to test this new compound on a different track to collect more data," says motorsport director Paul Hembery.

Otherwise, teams and drivers will use the Italian company’s existing hard and medium compounds, but even with that conservative choice multiple pit stops are likely to be a feature of the race.

"Last year we saw a two-stop strategy in dry conditions after two wet days but this year the compounds are softer, so if it stays dry we could have between three and four stops," Hembery says. “We should be in a position to make a more precise forecast after free practice."

The 5.891-kilometre Silverstone layout features two DRS zones for 2013. The first is on the Wellington Straight with detection just prior to Turn 3, whilst the second is on the Hangar Straight, with detection at Turn 10.

In other changes to the track, a number of new drains have been installed in verges around the circuit in order to improve drainage in areas where water has accumulated in the past, and the tyre barrier on the driver’s right at the exit of Turn 14 is being extended by 50 metres.

The weather looks reasonably settled for the weekend, with partial cloud each day and ambient temperatures expected to rise to a peak of around 22 degrees Celsius on Sunday. There is, however, a chance of local showers on Friday and Saturday.

The race will run over 52 laps or 306.747 kilometres (190.606 miles), and will start at 1300 hours local time, 1200 GMT.

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