By Hillary Chinyere, Harare.
So much has happened in the period after we enjoyed the largely impressive Austrian Grand Prix return at the all-new Red Bull Ring. Nico Rosberg has admitted that he keeps race data from teammate Lewis Hamilton’s garage. FIA’s commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone has indicated that he does not intend to renew Monza circuit’s contract beyond 2016, a move hugely criticised by the drivers. The paddock rumuor mill has it that Sunday’s will be Jenson Button’s last home race in his 14-year long F1 career. The 2009 champion will wear a special pink crash helmet during the race in honour of his father John Button who passed on tragically in January. John is responsible for engineering Jenson’s ascent to his F1 seat.
Also known as the home of motorsport, Silverstone Circuit is known for high tyre wear as it is a traction dependent circuit. Overtaking is possible into all of the main braking areas on the circuit and even into Copse corner on occasion. With the race held at the height of the British summer, the ever-present threat of rain will keep both drivers and teams on high alert. The British Grand Prix was very dramatic last year with a series of Pirelli tyre failures, which led to a change in tyre specification. Silverstone has very high cornering loads, especially through Copse corner and this is why Pirelli brings their hardest compounds in their range. Silverstone has the fastest corner combinations on the F1 calendar and is loved by the drivers, although it can be a real headache for the engineers and strategists. It should be an interesting tactical battle again with teams exploiting the undercut and the offset to pass cars using strategy. in light of this, UBS recommends 2 pit stops, with the first one after lap 14 and the second one on lap 33 in this 52-lap race.
Nico Rosberg leads his British teammate, Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers Championship by a good 29 points. I tip Lewis to win this one as he only lost the lead to Nico in last year’s British Grand Prix to rear tyre blowouts.
As Silverstone is equally demanding in aerodynamics as it is in traction, Red Bull will likely cash-in on the former. The fact that this circuit has two DRS zones and four long straights will almost guarantee them the non-Mercedes podium.
Ferrari will unlikely challenge for podium in Sunday’s race due to the advantage of Mercedes Benz-powered cars on a track which demands high straight-line speed and low strain on brakes. Fernando Alonso can manage the odd P4 or P5 as he has done during this season thus far, in a somewhat mediocre F14T.
After their impressive performance in Austria, Williams are expected to be the other podium contender alongside Red Bull. Given another Mercedes DNF, Fellipe Massa or Valteri Bottas have what it takes to repeat what they did a fortnight ago.
McLaren should just aim for points as their MP4-29 isn’t well suited to high-speed circuits with long corners. Too bad for the most experienced driver on the grid who is being bettered by his rookie teammate!
Marussia can get a good result this week, if they keep their tyres as well as they did in Monaco. This will put them on a stronger footing against fellow backmarkers Sauber, Caterham and Toro Rosso.
With Silverstone being one of the fastest tracks on the 2014 calendar and coupled with the four long straights, Mercedes are the favourites. I’m tipping Lewis Hamilton to take both the pole and win the race. Red Bull will likely get a single podium finish as their aerodynamics put them ahead of the rest of the midfield, barring mechanical issues they had at their home track.
A Piece of Trivia
Axcil Jefferies is not the first Zimbabwean Formula driver after all! There was once a Bulawayo-born gentleman by the name of John Maxwell Lineham Love who went as high as Formula 1. He had 10 races(9 starts) and managed a single podium finish and a total of 6 points in the World Driver’s Championship. To put this into perspective, Esteban Gutierrez has 6 career points as at Austria 2014. Love has a record-squalling six consecutive South African F1 championship to his name. You now have a pick-up like to use when you visit Donnybrook in Harare.