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British GP: Preview - McLaren

NEWS STORY
01/07/2014

The British Grand Prix has been at the heart of Formula 1 since the very beginning. The race kicked-off the sport's inaugural world championship campaign in 1950 and it's featured in every subsequent F1 season. Silverstone has been the race's permanent home since 1987, the track's intoxicating mix of fast corners making it a firm favourite with drivers and teams alike.

Silverstone stages its 50th British Grand Prix this weekend. Since the first (pre-world championship) race in 1948, the track has had numerous facelifts - most recently in 2010 - but it's retained its high-speed character throughout.

With an average speed of 225km/h (140mph), Silverstone is one of the fastest circuits on the F1 calendar. Only one of its 18 corners is taken at less than 100km/h (62mph); the remainder are all medium- or high-speed challenges, with the renowned Copse-Maggotts-Becketts sequence located in the middle sector. Through these six corners a car's minimum speed doesn't drop below 215km/h (134mph) and the drivers battle with lateral forces of up to 5g.

As far as car set-up is concerned, high-speed stability is essential. However, that's easier said than done because Silverstone is situated on the site of a World War II bomber station and it's often exposed to high winds. These gusts can unsettle a car and they need to be monitored closely.

An added complication for the engineers is the track surface. It's relatively bumpy and there are several different surfaces around the lap, owing to the number of facelifts that Silverstone has had over the years. To cope with the loads generated through fast corners, Pirelli are taking their two hardest tyres to the race, the Medium (Option) and the Hard (Prime) compounds.

McLaren has an impressive record at the British Grand Prix. The team has won the race 14 times, with 12 of these victories taking place at Silverstone. Neither of the team's current drivers has stood on the podium at the track in F1; Jenson Button is looking to make amends this year, while Kevin Magnussen - who drove a McLaren for the first time at Silverstone's Young Driver Test last year - is relishing the prospect of his first Santander British Grand Prix.

Silverstone - All the stats you need

Race distance: 52 laps (306.198km/190.263 miles)
Circuit length: 5.891km/3.660 miles
Lap record: Mark Webber (Red Bull RB9) 1:33.401s (227.059km/h)

First championship race: 1950

What makes it special: It's the home grand prix for eight of the 11 teams - including McLaren - and nothing beats the enthusiasm or knowledge of the British fans

Wins from pole position: 16

Track abrasiveness: Medium. However, the track surface isn't homogenous due to the various resurfacing projects carried out in recent years

Pirelli tyre choice: Medium (Option)/Hard (Prime)

2013 winning strategy: 3 stops

Fuel consumption: Medium. There's a high average speed at Silverstone, but it's not too demanding on fuel consumption because there are few hard accelerations from low speed

Brakewear: Low. There are only a couple of big braking points, and plenty of long straights along which to cool the brakes

Weather: It's been warm and dry in recent weeks, but the English weather can change quickly. Irrespective of sunshine, wind is always a factor for the cars

DRS zones: Two - on the Wellington and Hangar Straights

Turbo effect: Low, due to the fast and flowing nature of the track

Safety Car likelihood: Medium. Given the amount of run-off around the track, a 40 percent chance of a Safety Car is surprisingly high. There were two Safety Cars in last year's race

Grid Advantage: The racing line is on the left-hand-side, so that's the most advantageous side of the grid on which to line up

Pitlane time: At 460 metres, the Silverstone pitlane is the longest of the season - estimated to take 24s

Jenson Button: "The Santander British Grand Prix is one of Formula 1's most important races because so much of our sport has been grown and developed using British technology, passion and determination. For any driver, your home grand prix is massively important - but, like Monza and Monaco, Silverstone is special for everyone.

"The fast corners of the grand prix circuit aren't necessarily going to suit our package, but we're bringing improvements to the car all the time, and we're now seeing some really positive correlation between the tunnel and the track, which is encouraging for our ongoing development programme.

"Finally, and on a personal note, this race is going to be a special one for me because it was always such an important race for my dad. I'll be wearing a special pink helmet for the race weekend, and I'm hoping people will enter into the spirit of supporting the #pinkforpapa effort to wear something pink on Sunday to honour his memory. He won't be there this year, but he'll always be with us in spirit - I hope he brings me some extra luck on Sunday."

Kevin Magnussen: "I tested at Silverstone last year during the Young Driver Test, so it's a circuit that I'm already pretty familiar with. It's a great track, with lots of fast, sweeping turns - really enjoyable, and, with such high-commitment corners, a real challenge to wring the last few tenths from the car.

For me, this race weekend will be a particularly important one because it's the team's home race - there's an added pressure to do well in front of your home fans, and the families of many of the people who've worked so hard to put our cars on the grid. I know that this race won't be best suited to our package, but I nevertheless hope we can repay some of their hard work this weekend.

"Racing at Silverstone is going to be something special for me: it's a circuit with some of the richest history in Formula 1. It's where the world championship started, it's a race I grew up watching, and it's a place where you can still feet a solid connection to the past. It's an honour to be racing at Silverstone's 50th grand prix this weekend - as a British team, I hope we can do something a bit special to mark the occasion."

Eric Boullier, Racing Director: "For McLaren, Britain's oldest and most established Formula 1 team, the Santander British Grand Prix is the most significant and important event on the calendar. It's the race that connects us to our roots within British motorsport, and it gives us the opportunity to race in front of tens of thousands of British fans - the most knowledgeable, loyal and passionate motorsport enthusiasts in the world.

"As in Austria last month, the high-speed sweeps and esses of Silverstone won't particularly suit the MP4-29 - our car's package doesn't excel around fast, long corners - but there were positives to take away from that race, so I'm hopeful that we can maintain that trend this weekend.

"For Jenson, his home race will be an emotional one, and I know that he'll be pushing for a strong result to please the fans and honour the memory of his father. Kevin, too, knows the importance of racing in front of the team's home crowd, and is very keen for another positive result. Both drivers have performed fantastically all season, and I know they'll be pushing as hard as ever at Silverstone this weekend."

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