Innovation and tradition come together at the tenth round of the season, the British Grand Prix. It takes place at Silverstone, a circuit enshrined in the history of Formula 1 as the track that hosted the opening round of the very first world championship, on 13 May 1950. And it's here that this weekend, the new Sprint Qualifying Race format is being trialled for the first time, introduced with the aim of adding a further element of competition to the race weekend, making it even more spectacular for the fans.
Drivers and teams therefore face a different timetable to usual. On Friday, instead of two 60 minute free practice sessions, there is just the one at 14.30 local time (15.30 CET), followed at 18 (19 CET) by qualifying which defines the grid for the Sprint Qualifying. There is a second hour of free practice on Saturday at 12 (13 CET) and then at 16.30 (17.30 CET) the 100 kilometre race gets underway, with no obligation to change tyres and with a free choice of compound. The result of this race will decide the grid for the Grand Prix, which starts on Sunday at 15 (16 CET). The top three finishers will score points. The format is due to be repeated at two more rounds this season: another classic on the calendar, the Italian Grand Prix at Monza and the race at Interlagos, Brazil.
Another new element being introduced at Silverstone concerns the tyres: sole supplier Pirelli is bringing a new construction tested in free practice at the last race in Austria. The compounds are the same as before and for this event, the teams will use the C1, C2 and C3, but the structure of the carcass of the rears has been made more rigid.
Silverstone is known as the home of British motorsport, a track laid out on the perimeter roads of a wartime airfield and, over the past 30 years, it has been modified several times, while maintaining its essential characteristic of being fast and flowing with some of the best loved corners on the calendar. The current track is 5.891 kilometres long and aerodynamically speaking, it has become a medium downforce circuit, where one needs good traction for the twistier sections and plenty of speed for the straights and high speed corners. The engines run at full throttle for 70% of the lap and there are two DRS zones: one on the straight between turns 5 and 6 and the other on the Hangar Straght, which comes immediately after the famous changes of direction made up of the Maggots, Becketts and Chapel corners. The British Grand Prix will be raced on 52 laps (306.198 km).
Ferrari at the British GP
GP entered 67
Debut 1951 (J.F. Gonzalez 1st; L. Villoresi 3rd, A. Ascari ret; P. Whitehead 9th)
Wins 17 (25.37%)
Pole positions 15 (22.39%)
Fastest race laps 21 (31.34%)
Total podiums 57 (33.33%)
British Grand Prix: facts & figures
2. The number of Grands Prix that have always been on the Formula 1 World Championship calendar: the British and Italian events. In fact the first world championship event took place at Silverstone on 13 May 1950 and was won by Giuseppe Farina for Alfa Romeo, while the following year, Scuderia Ferrari took its maiden victory courtesy of Jose Froilan Gonzalez in a 375 F1. Silverstone has hosted the race 54 times, with 12 taking place at Brands Hatch and five at Aintree.
7. The number of drivers who shared the honour of setting the fastest race lap in the 1954 British Grand Prix. At a time when timing only went down to the nearest tenth of a second, a time of 1:50.0 was set by the Ferraris Jose Froilan Gonzalez, who was also the race winner, team-mate Mike Hawthorn, Maserati drivers Alberto Ascari, Onofre Mariṃn and Stirling Moss, Juan Manuel Fangio in a Mercedes and Jean Behra in a Gordini. They were each awarded one seventh of the point on offer for the fastest race lap.
8. The furthest back on the grid from which the British Grand Prix has been won. It happened at Brands Hatch and Carlos Reutemann, who passed away one week ago, was the driver in question at the wheel of a Ferrari 312 T3. As for Silverstone, winning from furthest back was Emerson Fittipaldi who started seventh in 1975 in a McLaren. When it comes to getting to the podium from the furthest back, the accomplishment of Onofre Mariṃn is likely to remain unbeaten, as he finished third, having started 28th in a Maserati.
1907. The year the very first permanent race track was opened. On 17 June, the crowds flooded through the gates of the Brooklands Motor Circuit, designed and built by entrepreneur Hugh Locke King. It was an oval, but with one unusual feature in that the pit straight was only used for the start, finish and pit stops, as during the races competitors turned right at "The Fork", the only right-hander on the track that led on to a 30 degree banked semi-circular corner, the Home Banking.
31000. The number of people competing in some form of motor sport in the UK, including everything from karting to historic racing, the most of any country in the world. Great Britain also boasts more racing teams than any other country.
This week in Ferrari history
14/7. In 1951, at Silverstone, Scuderia Ferrari took the first of its 238 wins in Formula 1 to date. It came courtesy of Jose Froilan Gonzalez in a 375 F1 and Enzo Ferrari had this to say about it in his book "Ferrari80". "When Gonzalez in a Ferrari left the 159 and the entire Alfa Romeo team trailing in his wake for the first time ever in our duel, I cried with joy. But mixed in with the tears of enthusiasm, there were also tears of pain, because on that day I thought, 'I have killed my mother.'" In this case the "mother" was Alfa Romeo, for whom Ferrari had been a test driver, racer and head of its racing department.
15/7. At the 2006 French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours, Michael Schumacher took his 58th pole with Scuderia Ferrari, the team's 183rd. For the seven time world champion it was his 68th and last pole. On Sunday the German won the race.
16/7. In 2012, the funeral of Gianni "Giannino" Marzotto took place in Valdagno, in the province of Vicenza, Italy, who had died two days earlier in Padua. Known as "The Flying Count," Marzotto won several sports car races. Notable with Scuderia Ferrari was victory in the 1950 Mille Miglia alongside Marco Crosara in a 195 S Berlinetta Touring. Marzotto also raced single-seaters, finishing third in the 1951 Formula 2 Rome Grand Prix at the wheel of a 166 F2. That same year, he should have made his Formula 1 debut in the Italian Grand Prix with a 375 F1. He did not take part because of work commitments, as he was an important figure in the textile industry, which explains his habit of racing in a jacket, shirt and tie...
17/7. In 2011, three years before Formula 1 raced in Sochi, the Scuderia brought one of its race cars to Russia as part of the Moscow City Racing exhibition. Driving a 2010 F10 was Giancarlo Fisichella, who drove a few laps of a street circuit, firing up the Russian fans with burn-outs and donuts, while the Maranello mechanics also pulled off some very fast pit stops.
18/7. In 2015, Jules Bianchi passed away in his native Nice, after fighting for his life for over nine months. The son and nephew of racing drivers, Jules was the very first Ferrari Driver Academy student and he made his Formula 1 debut in 2013 with Marussia, to gain experience. On 5 October 2014, in pouring rain at the Japanese Grand Prix, Bianchi lost control of his car, crashing at high speed into a crane that was moving the Sauber of Adrian Sutil, who had just crashed at the same point. It was immediately clear that his condition was very serious and he never regained consciousness and, having been flown from Japan back home to Nice, he died at 2.45 on that 18th July.