Friday, 8 July 2011

Flooded Friday at Silverstone

In typical British style the rain started this weekend off at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. It didn't seem to dampen the spirits of the drivers on the run up to the event though. Most of them seem to regard Silverstone as a second home and obviously for the British drivers a home event is always a big deal. But the track itself has seen significant changes this year as well.

Photo courtesy of Force India
The pit complex has been moved into a new part of the track which has created a lot more space. The garages are now housed in the all new Silverstone wing building with its distinctive roof and the whole effect is very modern. The track has also been reshaped with a major new section being inserted between Abbey and the start of the complex at Brooklands. This section is designed to be difficult and possibly get the drivers to make some errors and increase the chances of overtaking.

The wet track and changing conditions meant that it was difficult to see any difference in performance from the hot blown diffusers. The new regulations regarding the amount of fuel that can be burnt when off throttle come into force from this race onward. This should see some effect on most of the cars, but Red Bull are believed to have the best system and should see the biggest change. That's debatable though thanks to some last minute changes to the ruling. Due to reliability reasons some concessions have been made to the rules and its now even more unclear if any difference at all will be noticeable.

There was a lot of sliding about from many of the drivers, but it was left up to Kamui Kobayashi to have a big accident. He ran wide coming out of Woodcote and in typical fashion refused to lift off until the car span. It turned side on as it hit the grass and nearly rolled before sliding into the barriers and causing some pretty major damage. Nico Rosberg had a good try at outdoing the Japanese driver as he locked the rear under braking for Copse. The car tried to swap ends on him three times but he saved it and ran off the track before continuing round the track for another go.

Most of the running was carried out in the morning session thanks to a rain shower making the track far wetter just before free practice 2. Fastest time of the morning was taken by Mark Webber. Felipe Massa was fastest in the afternoon session but was 3.3 seconds behind the Australian's morning run. Not much was learned by anybody after that but the weather does look set to improve throughout the weekend.

I've given myself an almost impossible task of making predictions from a Friday that had no proper running at all, so this is purely based on gut instinct and hope! Ferrari have been the closest challengers to Red Bull in recent races. With a little pace taken by the engine changes the blue cars may be vulnerable here. Home advantage is with McLaren as well which will hopefully make for a very close fight for pole. I'm going for Alonso to finally beat Vettel in qualifying. Hopefully a double DRS zone, and not much dry tyre running until the race, will mean that the main event will be totally unpredictable. I'm hoping that Jenson will keep his head and be able to make his way to the top step again. Vettel is never far away though so I'll put him second and Alonso third. I get the feeling that Hamilton's aggression may get the better of him again and lead to another race for him to forget. I'm also thinking that Paul di Resta can pull out all the stops and get himself back into the points if he gets a little luck, so keep an eye out for him too.

Let me know if you think I'm talking rubbish, I'd love to hear your version of the top three!

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