2013 British Grand Prix Preview

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The British Grand Prix is one of the few races that has appeared on every single F1 world championship calendar since 1950, visiting many of the UK’s greatest race tracks before eventually settling at Silverstone during the 1990s. It welcomes a baying crowd that leaves very few seats empty, draped in the Union Jacks which they hope will spur the British drivers onto a highly popular victory.

British Grand Prix Talking Points

Webber looks to excel without the pressure

By announcing his move to Porsche’s endurance racing programme and his departure from F1 at the end of the season, Mark Webber has allayed the pressure that has been on him ever since Sebastian Vettel ignored ‘multi 21’ in Malaysia. As a result, the Australian driver could be in the running for his first win of the season at Silverstone, and what would be his third at the track.

Hopes of a home win hinge on Hamilton

Britain’s four lions will all be keen on impressing at their home race, but Lewis Hamilton is the only driver with a real chance of winning the grand prix in front of his home fans. di Resta and Button will settle for points, Chilton for beating his teammate and/or the Caterhams, yet Hamilton’s fighting spirit could yet shine through on Sunday as he looks to repeat his 2008 victory.

Can Ferrari rekindle its championship charge?

Ferrari may have enjoyed a good race in Canada with a double score, but the problem was that the man Fernando Alonso really needed to beat (Vettel) still finished ahead. Silverstone is a circuit at which the team has a good record, last winning in 2011 through the newly-moustachioed Spanish driver. A good result combined with a Vettelian failure is just what Ferrari require.

Will Williams score in #600?

Williams celebrates its 600th grand prix this weekend amidst one of its worst seasons ever, which is a shame for the legendary team. However, a point at the team’s home race would go down very well and go a long way to silencing their critics; this could be the race that makes or breaks their season.

Vergne vs Ricciardo is given extra importance

Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo are great friends, having been teammates even before their time in F1. With Webber’s announcement though, the gloves are now off and the pressure is on. Both drivers will be aware that a run of good results could see them join Vettel next season, and starting off on the right foot at Silverstone is crucial.

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Track: Silverstone Circuit
Laps: 52
Corners: 18
Lap Record: Fernando Alonso 1:30.874 (2010)
Tire Compounds: Medium (Option); Hard (Prime)
2012 Winner: Mark Webber (Red Bull)
2012 Pole Position: Fernando Alonso 1:51.746
2012 Fastest Lap: Kimi Raikkonen 1:34.661
DRS Zones: Wellington Straight (T5 to T6); Hangar Straight (T14 to T15)

Thursday – Free Practice 1: 05:00am ET
Thursday – Free Practice 2: 09:00am ET
Saturday – Free Practice 3: 05:00am ET
Saturday – Qualifying: 08:00am ET
Sunday – Race: 08:00am ET

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.