British F1 Grand Prix 2011: Preview (VMM)
It’s the beginning of July and we’re just a few days off heading to our home race – the Santander British Grand Prix. There’s much to look forward to, with a new pit and paddock complex and a new starting position for our drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.
Lewis has fond memories of racing at Silverstone – he won the race the year he won his World Drivers’ Championship and is looking to add another home win to his tally if possible.
He said: “My victory at Silverstone in 2008 was one of the sweetest and most satisfying moments of my entire Formula 1 career – and it’s a memory that I always carry with me. Standing on the top step of the podium, and looking across at the sea of flags and faces in the grandstands opposite was simply incredible.
“For this year, of course, we head to a very new Silverstone – and while much has changed around the circuit and in the paddock, I’m sure that all those thousands of fans will be just as passionate as ever – it’s one of the greatest things about the Santander British Grand Prix.
“Going into this race, we’re facing some very stiff new interpretations of the regulations; while they’ll affect all teams, it will be interesting to see if the competitive order is changed as a result. It’s going to be a busy weekend for our engineers as they adapt – as always, they’ll do a fantastic job to ensure we stay competitive.
“I’m really looking forward to Silverstone: it’s one of the best circuits in the world, and I really think that the arrival of DRS and KERS Hybrid will make this one of the best and most exciting British Grands Prix ever.”
Jenson is eager to improve on his career best fourth place finish at the circuit and admits it would mean everything to win in front of his home fans, which in his eyes are some of the greatest in the world.
He said: “My best finish at Silverstone is fourth, which I earned in 2004 and last year, after a great charge through the field after a disappointing performance in qualifying. Although it’s a place that’s not been too kind to me, I’m really looking forward to this year’s race: we raced on the new layout last year, but this will be the first time we’ve experienced the new circuit as it’s really meant to be.
“With a new startline, a new first corner and an all-new pit and paddock complex, the new facilities should be fantastic, and I think they’ll confirm Silverstone as one of the best circuits in the world. Still, it’s going to be strange sitting on the grid with the prospect of going flat into Abbey as the first corner!
“As always, we’ll see once again that the British fans are some of the most passionate, knowledgeable and loyal in the whole world. It would mean everything to me to be able to win my home grand prix – that would be my dream come true. Whatever happens, it will be a great weekend.”
Martin Whitmarsh believes the recently constructed new pit and paddock complex at the circuit will help cement Silverstone’s place as the home of British motor racing. He’s also keen to see if mid-season rule changes will shake up the competitive order.
He said: “This will be an exciting time for teams and fans alike as we head to an all-new Silverstone for the Santander British Grand Prix. Silverstone has been the spiritual home of Formula 1 in Great Britain since the birth of the world championship back in 1950, and it’s hugely rewarding to see that, not only has the circuit gone from strength to strength, but that it’s still leading the way.
“The new track layout, which we raced for the first time last year, and the superb new pit and paddock facilities, will confirm Silverstone as one of the greatest racetracks in the world and cement it as the home of British motor racing.
“This weekend will also be exciting for different reasons, with new restrictions placed on off-throttle exhaust blowing and the anticipated effect that may have on the competitive order. As always, our engineers have been committed and resourceful in managing this mid-season change, and I’m optimistic that we’ll remain competitive and will hopefully be able to provide the many thousands of home fans with a good result next weekend.
“It’s important that grand prix racing continues to change while simultaneously respecting its past: I think the advent of a new rules package at Formula 1’s spiritual home is the perfect reflection of a sport that has managed to capture and thrill generations throughout the ages.
“As our home race, I sincerely hope this will be a great Santander British Grand Prix!”
* Official photo and details courtesy of VODAFONE MCLAREN MERCEDES *
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