The grand prix circus will this week make the quick hop over the channel from France to head for the British Grand Prix. The second race of a punishing schedule of four in July comes at Silverstone, the event's permanent home for nearly 20 years. The venue has many traditions, from the delights of the local traffic to the welcoming British summer weather which so often puts a dampener on proceedings. The circuit also enjoys a customary 'will it, won't it' battle with the sport's authorities over its slot on the calendar, but it has survived so far. Panasonic Toyota Racing currently stands in 4th place in the constructors' championship with 53 points. Now it heads to Britain hoping to pick up another strong result after its double points finish at last week's French Grand Prix. That result means both Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher will have good starting positions in qualifying on Saturday.
CALL THE COPSE
After picking up four points at the French Grand Prix, Jarno Trulli is looking to add more to his tally of 31 from the year as he heads to Silverstone for round 11 of the championship in 4th place.
Jarno Trulli (Car 16): "Like Magny-Cours, Silverstone is another technical circuit, demanding both for the cars and the drivers. The track contains every type of corner, so it is difficult to come up with a set-up for the whole lap. As usual you need a well balanced car and you have to find a compromise between the aerodynamic and mechanical sides. If you can make it respond in both fast and slow corners you can push to the limit. From a driving point of view, Becketts is the most enjoyable part of the circuit, but there are other corners where you need to be committed if you want to improve your lap time, like Bridge and Copse. Stowe is important, as is the slow section at the end of the lap. The wind is another major factor at Silverstone because the surrounding area is very flat and that can affect handling. Of course, the weather can then throw anything at you in one race, so we have to be prepared for anything. I've been on the front row at Silverstone before, so we'll !
see if we can keep up our strong run from 2005 in both qualifying and the race."
WIND UP TOYOTAS
The rain is one thing, but even in the dry Silverstone, a former airfield, is flat and prone to gusting winds. Ralf Schumacher will hope to bring home more points after picking up two in France.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 17): "At 5.14km in length, Silverstone is quite a long, demanding circuit for drivers and engineers alike. Being flat, it is prone to changeable wind levels which can really disrupt a driver's quick lap. If the car is turning into wind, the front end can feel quite good, but if it turns away from wind, the car can rapidly become loose and unstable. The wind effect is especially strong through Copse, Becketts and down to Stowe. Technically those faster corners require a good aero efficiency and commitment from the driver, while the track's slower corners demand good traction. We must take into account a wide range of set-ups during Friday free practice because even if the forecast says it will remain dry, there is always the chance of a shower. I had a run of good fortune at Silverstone in my early F1 years from 1997 through to 2000 when I finished in the top 6 each year. With the TF105, we have a good chance of scoring points at every event this year, so!
I am confident my points tally will be better off by the chequered flag on Sunday."
DRAG OR FLY
Teams run a high downforce package for the British Grand Prix, but they have to watch out for losing speed down the straights because of drag.
Mike Gascoyne – Technical Director Chassis: "At Silverstone we run fairly high levels of downforce, but not as high as Monaco where we run the highest downforce of the season. Unlike Monaco, Silverstone also has long straights so the extra penalty caused by drag will limit straight line speed. That means the package has to be efficient and not produce unwanted drag. The weather is quite a significant factor with isolated rain showers quite a likelihood over the weekend - even in July! If we know that the race will be run in heavy rain, we will run with more downforce. We would also raise the ride heights to avoid any chance of aquaplaning and we will soften the car to aid traction, especially at the rear. It can be an advantage to test at Silverstone but only if you meet similar conditions at the race weekend. This year we haven't done that much testing there but we have a substantial database from previous races and tests. After six points in France, we have secured good st!
arting slots for qualifying and we are confident of achieving yet another strong result."