Formula 1 Rolex British Grand Prix Preview

13/07/2017

Foreword from Renault Sport Racing Managing Director, Cyril Abiteboul

Silverstone promises to be a special weekend for the Renault Sport Racing family. Sunday 16th July will be particularly memorable as it marks the 40th anniversary, to the day, of Renault’s first Formula 1 Grand Prix when the RS01, pioneered by Jean-Pierre Jabouille, graced the legendary British circuit. Of course, this ignited Renault’s passion for Formula 1, and 40 years and masses of success later, we are still going with the same grit on the grid today.

We left Austria with mixed feelings after a weekend which highlighted a number positives, whilst underlined the areas which require improvement. We are satisfied with Jolyon’s race, even though we didn’t secure any points, an impressive outing from him means he has the confidence going into his home Grand Prix. Jolyon needs to be better placed on the grid, which of course helps for a better Sunday. This is one of his targets and we hope to see him improve in that area.

Sunday for Nico in Austria was increasingly difficult and he was unfortunately hampered at the start. The anti-stall system on his car kicked in which put him to the back by the first corner and severely damaged his race. We need to investigate why this happened and ensure it doesn’t occur again. We tried something different with Nico’s strategy after he struggled on the Supersoft tyres, but in the end it did not quite work out. Again, all for review and part of our ongoing development.

As well as reflecting over our forty-year history at Silverstone we will also be looking very much to the future and we will unveil a new garage. The garage at a Grand Prix is where all the race weekend work takes place to the cars and it’s also a showroom to our participation in Formula 1.

The British Grand Prix marks the beginning of a sequence of strong chassis developments and I hope to see the installation progress on the upcoming races. It’s an important few weeks before the mid-season break and it’s vital that our hard work is maintained.

Silverstone is located a short drive from our Enstone base so we look forward to welcoming many friends and family to come join us for a cup of tea. We hope for all to be able to celebrate a positive result on Sunday.

Bouncing back

Chief Technical Officer Bob Bell wants to ensure the team make a swift return to the points at the British Grand Prix on a track which can throw up a number of surprises.

What challenges does Silverstone present?

It’s a flowing circuit, quite different to what we have seen so far this season, so it will be an interesting benchmark. As a circuit, it’s fast with numerous high speed corners. It’s not the smoothest circuit, but it doesn’t have particularly nasty kerbs like Austria which gave us bodywork damage. It’s not as hard on brakes as Austria, but it puts a lot of energy on the tyres, especially the left-hand side so you usually get left-front graining amidst other issues.

It will be interesting to see how the Medium compound goes around Silverstone. Sometimes drivers don’t like the softer compounds, they prefer the more robust tyre for the high-speed turns, so we will have to wait and see. The layout will test our car’s balance as it has shown a propensity to be a bit nervous in the high speed corners, so that’s something we’ll be monitoring.

Ultimately for us, we are midway through the season and we have a lot to do to make up for the second half.

What are your thoughts post Austria?

It was a disappointment as we went there expecting more. It’s a hard circuit in many ways, especially on tyres and good performance in the race is down to tyre management. We had a difficult start which put Nico on the back-foot. Jo got within striking distance from the points, which was a strong effort from him.

We are analysing Nico’s problem. It sits very squarely between the engine and the clutch and gearbox. These problems can be quite widespread so we need to take our time to analyse the data carefully and fully understand the issue and see what to do next. We need to perform and start scoring points again on a regular basis. That’s the aim, it always is. We will try hard at Silverstone to come home with some points and do justice to the 40th year anniversary celebrations.

Need for speed

A challenging Austrian Grand Prix for Nico Hülkenberg means he has extra determination to strive for points on a fast and flowing Silverstone circuit.

What do you make of Silverstone?

Silverstone is a high-speed circuit with lots of old corner combinations such as Maggots, Becketts and Chapel which are truly awesome. There are so many great corners where you really feel the forces of a Formula 1 car. You have to really work your neck in the build-up before Silverstone to get ready for the high G forces and it’s important to be ready for it. At Silverstone we’ll really feel the extra cornering forces from the cars this season. We need good high speed balance on the car to maximise our performance. It’s a challenging lap but also a lot of fun and very special.

And what about the British atmosphere?

Silverstone is one of the historic races on the calendar. You really get a feel for the roots of racing there. The atmosphere is buzzing and that always give me an extra boost, especially as my Formula 1 home for so many years was just outside the gates. You get a great feeling when you’re driving with the thousands of fanatical Formula 1 supporters cheering you on. It’s one of those special races because the grandstands are full – all around the circuit and across the entire weekend. There’s a really cool, traditional atmosphere about the place which is great to experience. You always see how much the fans love the sport. It will be a busy weekend with lots of people and lots of sponsors there to see us, especially with the 40th anniversary celebrations.

How do you sum up Austria?

Sunday wasn’t good, but Saturday was more positive, P11 on the grid was probably the best we could have done. In the race, the anti-stall at the start kicked in and we dropped to the back, we need to review what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again. I was almost last by the first corner and it was difficult after that. I struggled on the Supersoft tyres and I wasn’t making ground, so we switched to the Softs to try something different. I lost a lot of time with the front runners and blue flags, so it was difficult. We will analyse, regroup and go again in a couple of days.

Home comforts

Jolyon Palmer narrowly missed out on the points in Spielberg, but the Brit is ready for his home Grand Prix where a maiden top ten finish of the season is within reach.

Is it exciting to race in your home Grand Prix?

I’m really looking forward to racing in front of the home crowd. I love the track and it’s always a special weekend at Silverstone. People always turn out in huge numbers and they are very passionate which really pushes us drivers. My first Grand Prix at Silverstone was when I was six and a fan, so it’s special to be there with lots of reminiscing. It’s always a great experience.

Do you like the circuit?

It’s certainly the Formula 1 track that I know the best so I’m hoping that gives me an extra boost along with all the home support. There are lots of high speed corners which are cool to drive and a lap has a really good flow to it. I had my first race at Silverstone when I was fifteen so I know the place pretty well! I’ve been on the podium a few times throughout my career including a win in Formula Two and second and third places in GP2.

What are your post-race feelings from Spielberg?

It was a solid race and I was pushing like hell at the end. We were so close to the points, but it was another eleventh place! Overall, it was a decent weekend. I made a small mistake in qualifying which put us out in Q1, with the times so very close in Austria. The race was quite good, but I was behind Lance Stroll for over 40 laps, and I just wasn’t able to pass him no matter how hard I tried! Silverstone’s my home race so I am excited for that. I am going there after a fairly positive weekend, so I am aiming to keep the momentum and get those points.

RSA Round-Up

Lundgaard doubles up in Estonia

Christian Lundgaard extended his lead at the top of the SMP F4 NEZ Championship after a dominant display in Parnu, Estonia on 1-2 July.

Lundgaard – fresh from a hat-trick of wins in the Spanish F4 series – carried on his strong run of form and qualified on the front row for the opening race, missing out on pole position by 0.011s to rival Xavier Lloveras.

But the Dane powered off the line in race one, passing the Spaniard at the start and built a healthy lead which he would not relinquish.

It was a similar story in race two as Lundgaard got the better of Lloveras and took his third straight NEZ win and sixth in a row in F4.

The 15-year-old qualified on pole for Sunday’s final race but stalled on the line and was hit by two other drivers, marking an end to his weekend. The series heads to Moscow, Russia (14-16 July) for round five where Lundgaard will have his sights set on building on his eight-point advantage over Lloveras at the summit of the championship.

Christian Lundgaard: “Parnu was a positive weekend overall, I hoped for more in the qualifying, but the yellow flag hampered my opportunity to improve. I was surprised by the results in races one and two after a couple of good starts. I made a big mistake at the start of race three, though. I stalled my car on the grid and was hit by two cars. It was a big mistake from me, but I'm learning from it.” 

Mixed weekend for Eurocup trio at the Hungaroring

Max Fewtrell, Jarno Opmeer and Sun Yue Yang took home a number of points from the Hungaroring as the Eurocup season reached its mid-point on 1-2 July.

Dutchman Opmeer secured his first points of the season in the opening race on Saturday as he finished in eighth place after starting from fifteenth. Starting from the back of the grid after a qualifying off, Fewtrell made up 17 places to finish thirteenth.

Fewtrell then took the top rookie award in race two with a smart move on Ye Yifei at turn one sealing him a solid sixth position.

In race three, Fewtrell added a couple more points in ninth with Opmeer finishing in twelfth. Sun came 19th in race one and 28th in races two and three. Nürburgring is next up on the calendar (14-16 July) for the trio who will be aiming to add more points in their rookie seasons.

Max Fewtrell: “It was good to be back on the podium with the rookie category win. This success is satisfying following a difficult weekend in Monaco last time out, and after a complicated Saturday in Budapest with my accident in Q1. It was far from an ideal start! I put a nice move on Yifei to take the victory, but I must work much harder to step onto the overall podium which I will be aiming to do at the Nürburgring.”

Jarno Opmeer: “I’m very happy to get my first points of the season especially coming from fifteenth on the grid to eighth. My team did a fantastic job all weekend and I hope we can build on this now heading to the next round. I need to work on consistent pace to run frequently in the top ten.”

Sun Yue Yang:I learned more about the use of strategy than any race before. It was a difficult track, more than any track that I have driven before apart from Spa. I learned to feel the car more. I can make one more step in the next race because of this knowledge.” 

Aitken secures podium as GP3 series returns

Jack Aitken came home with 24 points as the GP3 series resumed in Austria. After a frustrating season opening in Barcelona, the 21-year-old needed a solid points haul to keep tabs with his rivals.

Aitken drove his ART machine to a strong second place in Saturday’s Feature race after qualifying on the front row in Spielberg, missing out on the win by 2.3s from George Russell.

In Sunday’s Sprint, Aitken weaved his way up to fifth from seventh on the grid to grab six crucial championship points as the series heads to Silverstone for Round Three.

Jack Aitken: “We got some solid points which are always nice. We know we are quick and the pace is certainly there. If we keep doing what we’re doing then it will come. The team are doing a really good job with the car and I’m confident in myself so it’s important to keep going. We are leaving Austria fifth in the championship, heading into my home Grand Prix, so I’m excited for that and ready to have a go at Silverstone.”

Podiums for Latifi and Rowland in Spielberg

Renault Sport Formula One Team Test Driver Nicholas Latifi and Development Driver Oliver Rowland both scored podium finishes after a positive weekend in the Formula Two championship in Spielberg.

In Saturday’s opening Feature Race, Canadian Latifi charged his way from eighth on the grid to an impressive second – his third podium finish in a row in the series and a career best result in the class. Rowland, from fourth off the line, maintained that position to bag valuable points.

Sunday morning’s Sprint proved better luck for Rowland who impressively drove his way to third place. It could have been even better for the Sheffield man after dicing with Alexander Albon for the runners-up spot, but fell short by 0.5s.

Latifi, meanwhile, made a smart getaway from seventh on the grid and was locked in a race long battle for fifth. However, a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit-lane under the safety car bumped Latifi down to eighth as he had to settle for a solitary point.

Rowland sits second in the standings, 49 points behind leader Charles Leclerc, with Latifi up to fourth as the pair set their sights on Silverstone this weekend.

Oliver Rowland: “Overall it was a good weekend. I was pleased with the fourth on Saturday, and the podium on Sunday means good points for the championship. I was trying to manage the tyres in the Sprint and I started to catch second but unfortunately couldn’t quite make the move. We need to address qualifying pace and stay focused on the job ready for the home race.”

Nicholas Latifi: “We got the weekend off to a great start, it was my best practice session of the year so far. I didn’t quite have the same confidence in the car during qualifying, but we were still in a good position for the race. Attention now quickly changes to Silverstone, where we want to build on the strong run of form.”

Gasly to make Renault e.dams debut

Reigning GP2 champion Pierre Gasly will make his Renault e.dams and Formula E debut in New York as he stands in for reigning champion and current championship leader, Sébastien Buemi

Séb will not compete in this weekend’s New York ePrix double-header as he lines up for the fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship at the Nürburgring.

Pierre will join Nico Prost, who is targeting a first podium finish of the season in New York as he chases down Felix Rosenqvist in the battle for third in the drivers’ standings.

Séb’s championship lead could come under pressure as he misses out on two races in New York. Buemi currently leads the standings by 32 points from Lucas di Grassi who will be aiming to add a large points haul ahead of the final rounds of the season in Montréal at the end of July.

Alain Prost, team co-owner: “We are very pleased to welcome Pierre Gasly. Racing in New York is going to be a challenge as he makes his Formula E debut at the end of the championship. But looking at our preparation, we are confident and our goal remains the same, to score the maximum points to strengthen our lead in the championship.”

Track Notes:

Silverstone is one of the legendary circuits on the Formula 1 calendar. The 5.891km lap is fast, flowing and very physical to drive. The car needs a good balance to deal with the long straights and the quick changes of direction with drivers combating the circuit in around 90secs.

T1 – Fast right-hander taken at over 280kph, building momentum for the quick left heading into the tight and reasonably slow T3.

T4 – Acts as a feeder into the T5 kink opening-up the long Wellington straight which has good overtaking opportunities with the DRS.

T7 - Minimising understeer through Luffield is essential to ensure good speed down the straight, as this leads on through Copse, then subsequently into the Becketts complex and on to Stowe.

T9 - Taken almost flat out, Copse is one of the most daunting corners of the season and a real test of nerve for the drivers.

T14 - Overall car balance is essential through the high-speed Becketts complex, which is entered at over 300kph with only minor throttle lift through the entire series of corners.

T16 - Vale is one of the slowest corners on the track – taken at around 100kph – and precedes the final right-hander of Club before the drivers pile down the start/finish straight

Power Unit Notes:

Silverstone counts as one of the power tracks of the season, with 66% of the lap spent at full throttle in qualifying and 64% in the race, plus an average speed of well over 200kph.

There are six sustained periods of wide open throttle over the 5.891km lap. The Hangar Straight is the longest straight at 875m, which translates to 12secs at full throttle. Top speed peaks at over 320kph with DRS open. The other straights are the old pit straight (750m), the straight from Stowe to Club (600m), the pit straight (600m) and the Wellington Straight (700m).

Smooth turbo response is very important at Silverstone as the high-speed turns are interlinked. The sweeping Maggots-Beckett-Chapel complex, for instance, sees average speeds of around 225kph and no lower than 180kph at any one point. The driver needs to keep a rhythm going so he can roll through the complex rather than brake and accelerate repeatedly.

There are several low speed corners for the MGU-K to recover energy and keep the battery at a high level of charge. The Wellington Loop complex and Luffield are the most obvious corners to recover energy. Stowe presents another opportunity for the MGU-K as cars brake from well over 300kph to fifth gear and 180kph.

Fuel consumption at Silverstone will be high since the lap is long and quick but the H and K will be able to recover enough to mean that fuel saving won’t be a concern during the race.

Tyres:

Medium (white) – Roast Dinner – A luxury Sunday meal; durable and ticking all the boxes.

Soft (yellow) – Fish & Chips – The go to dish; can’t go wrong with this popular and very easy combination.

Supersoft (red) – Cream Tea – Popular in the English countryside on a sunny Saturday afternoon and the early stages of a Sunday. Disappears out of sight quickly and melts in the mouth.

In Numbers:

135 – The London Eye is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe at 135 metres.

30,000 – There are over 30,000 people in England with the name John Smith.

21 – There is only a 21-mile gap between England and France.

220 – The River Severn is the UK’s longest river at 220 miles, around 60 laps of Silverstone.

11,500,000,000 (11.5bn) – Number of sandwiches eaten in Britain every year.

More information can be found in the British GP Factfile: http://bit.ly/2ujg32y

ENDS

Tweets