The selection of races that have retained their place on the calendar since 1950, when the Formula One world championship began, is very select: only Great Britain and Italy have achieved it. And while the British Grand Prix may have wandered from circuit to circuit between the 1950s and 1980s, Silverstone – where the world championship began – is undoubtedly, as the marketing slogan goes, the home of British motor racing.
It’s a sentiment that Ross echoes wholeheartedly: “Silverstone is always a special weekend for our team, with the home of the British Grand Prix being located so close to our factory in Brackley and to Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines in Brixworth. It’s a great opportunity for our staff and their families to see the cars in action so close to home.”
A mark of Silverstone has always been that it has known how to move with the times. The current layout, introduced new for 2010, was the fourth major change in the circuit’s F1 history, and the track is now some 27% longer than the original used in 1950 – and the second longest on the calendar. For 2011, the teams will work from a brand new, state of the art pit and paddock complex.
“As one of the original rounds of the Formula One calendar since 1950, the British Grand Prix is a true classic race,” explains Norbert. “The circuit at Silverstone has moved with the times and, after a new layout last year, 2011 will see the start-finish line move to its third location in the circuit’s history, as well as the introduction of a modern pits complex.” Ross echoes the sentiment: “Having visited the new pit and paddock complex earlier this year, combined with the layout changes implemented in 2010, I believe Silverstone is now really a venue to be proud of.”
Changing layouts have not meant a changing character, though: the circuit remains a true high-speed challenge. “The circuit has retained its essential high-speed character and the drivers universally love it,” continues Norbert. “In dry conditions, 11 corners are taken above 200 kph while during the impressive sequence between Copse and Stowe, the cars never drop below 195 kph.” That’s enough to get anybody’s attention.
After a disappointing race in Valencia, which showed the current limits of the car, the team has been hard at work on upgrades that, we hope, will allow the team to build some forward momentum in the current weeks and months. “We have been working very hard on developments for the car to improve our competitive position,” confirms Ross, “and I would like to take the opportunity to thank the team for the commitment they have shown.”
The final word goes to Norbert: “Looking to our team’s performance, we know that we are currently not in a position to challenge the top three teams in Valencia and we cannot expect that situation to turn around at Silverstone,” he concludes with realism. “However, a lot of hard work is being done to improve our technical package and we all will focus on achieving a decent result.”