Distance: 5.891 kilometres
Formula 1’s original grand prix venue is forever a highlight of the calendar.
The track is made for the modern F1 machine. It’s all fast and sweeping bends, which plays to the strengths of the today’s ground effect aerodynamics, and it lacks the slow and fiddly corners that would show up the car’s bulging minimum weight and related inertia.
The racing tends to be good too, with its long straights and broad track width promoting overtaking — not to mention the constant curveball of the English weather.
Combined with the added atmosphere of this being a home race for the seven teams based in the United Kingdom, F1’s annual visit to Silverstone rarely fails to live up to expectations.
Winner: Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
Carlos Sainz won his maiden grand prix from pole position at his 150th time of trying, but the pole sitter had to overcome several setbacks to take the flag.
Sainz had been jumped by teammate Charles Leclerc early in the race, but a late safety car forced Ferrari to split its strategies, leaving Leclerc out on old hards and bringing Sainz in for fresh softs with the intention of using the Spaniard to defend the leader for the nine laps.
But Sainz knew the plan wouldn’t work. He argued his case assertively over team radio and was incisive with his pass for the lead, after which he galloped to his long-awaited first win.
Red Bull Racing remains undefeated in 2023, with Max Verstappen having won seven of nine races to date. Sergio Pérez claimed the other two, and the pair have split the spoils of the season’s two sprint races.
Verstappen is 81 in the lead of the drivers standings ahead of Pérez, while Red Bull Racing is 199 points ahead of Mercedes on the constructors table.
The balance of power for second-quickest car has shifted wildly so far this season, with Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin all filling that position at some stage. All have brought significant upgrades in the last month, further muddying the distinctions between them.
While Red Bull Racing has a comprehensive advantage in race trim, in qualifying the gap is markedly reduced, and Charles Leclerc is the only non-RBR driver to have a pole to his name this season.
Austria was no exception to that trend, with Verstappen beating Leclerc to pole by just 0.048 seconds.
The British Grand Prix is run at the prototypical grand prix circuit. Whereas the sport visits some venues that reward particular car characteristics or quirks, Silverstone is all about pure performance.
All the fundamental performance elements are tested: downforce, acceleration, top speed and tyre consumption.
You won’t be surprised to read, therefore, that Red Bull Racing will start favourite with the most aerodynamically efficient car on the grid set up to babysit its tyres.
The ongoing battle over upgrades will be particularly interesting. Mercedes has said it’ll be bringing a major upgrade to its car to Silverstone aimed at adding pure performance based on the lessons learnt from redesigning its aerodynamics.
McLaren will also be a key team to watch. It brought the first of a three-instalment upgrade package to Lando Norris’s car to Austria and appeared to take a considerable leap forward. Oscar Piastri will be brought up to date in Silverstone on what will be a validating weekend.
Along with performance, there’s always a strategy opening at Silverstone. Because this is such a high-energy track thanks to its high average cornering speed, it’s usually a two-stop race, and because Pirelli brings its hardest rubber to the UK, often several variations in tyre choice are available to teams.
Having two cars in the battle at the front can therefore be enormously advantageous. It’ll put the onus on underperforming teammates to pull their weight lest the team end up caught short on strategic options through the grand prix.