2016 Formula 1 British Grand Prix, Preview
06 July 2016
Renault Sport Formula One Team previews the tenth race weekend of the 2016 Formula 1 season, the British Grand Prix.
Drivers Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen share their thoughts on the challenges of Silverstone, while our management and technical staff give the latest on the team and on the R.S.16-R.E.16 package.
BRITISH GRAND PRIX PREVIEW
We come to the British Grand Prix after a fantastic weekend of success. The double race wins for Nico Prost were spectacular in themselves, and secured the FIA Formula E title for Renault e.dams in style. Sébastian Buemi had a tougher time to take the Formula E drivers’ crown, but showed grit, determination and sheer speed to win. These wins came thanks to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in Renault e.dams and it is a showcase of what is possible from Renault Sport Racing.
Renault Sport Formula One Team is still at a very early stage in its development, but we aim to emulate the success seen in Battersea Park in Formula E in the new few years. Our results at Grands Prix are currently not headline-worthy, but behind the scenes we are making good progress.
Our power unit operation at Viry has been better able to translate the hard work put in over the past years thanks to the strategic changes. It’s already paying dividends, with Red Bull’s second place at the power sensitive Spielberg track demonstrating, yet again, the steps forward taken so far and the potential for the future.
My focus is now more on making further alignment between Viry and Enstone as well as driving improvements and enhancements to the Enstone operation, which means I will be spending more time in the United Kingdom. What better way to start that than with the always popular British Grand Prix.
Cyril Abiteboul, managing director
A good result is just what we need
Heading from Enstone to Silverstone is just a 45 minute drive so Fred Vasseur is hoping to be able to enjoy some home cheer at the British Grand Prix.
What’s the outlook for the British Grand Prix?
In terms of the team it’s a circuit we all know very well. The layout should suit our car better than the street courses which caused us so much trouble earlier in the year, especially after we were able to make solid progress over the weekend in Austria.
What will you be looking at for a good result?
Both our drivers were happier with the way their cars were working for them last time out which is a good sign. We were able to see that over the weekend they were able to deliver very similar performances in the sessions and the race. We should have achieved a better result were it not for the unknown factor of the safety car’s appearance which was exactly what our strategy didn’t need at that time! For Silverstone if we can make good progress over the sessions then a little bit of chance going our way in the race we could be quite well placed to deliver.
What’s the importance of your new job title?
Personally, it doesn’t affect how I approach the work at hand, however I have been given the title of Team Principal of Renault Sport Formula One Team to clarify and strengthen my role. It simply means that I am the one responsible for the performance and results of the team. I continue attending all races in this role and I will have a greater role in the day to day management of the activities in Viry-Chatillon to ensure everything that side of the equation is working as it should.
It’s a little bit like a home track
Given the amount of times he’s driven at Silverstone, Kevin Magnussen regards the British Grand Prix as taking place almost at home…
What do you think of Silverstone and the British Grand Prix?
It’s one I look forward to. There’s a great atmosphere with all the fans who are always so enthusiastic for the race and you feel all the excitement when you drive in each morning. Unfortunately, there’s no Danish Grand Prix so I do look on this one as being almost a home Grand Prix for me. So many Formula 1 teams are based within an hour of Silverstone that many other teams and drivers look on it in a similar way so this does give it a special feeling.
What is it about the circuit?
The high speed corners are great, particularly Maggots and Becketts and you really feel like you’re driving a Formula 1 car the way it’s meant to be driven. It has a great flow to it and there’s usually a full crowd cheering you on. There are good opportunities to overtake and you never know what surprise the British weather might produce.
What are your best Silverstone memories?
I’ve raced there many times but in particular I had pole, fastest lap and the race win in British Formula 3 in 2011 and then a podium and a win in Formula Renault 3.5 in 2012 so those are good memories. I scored points there in Formula 1 in 2014 so to repeat that this season would make me and the team happy.
What’s the approach to this race?
We always head to a race wanting the best result possible. Austria showed that the car isn’t as bad as it has looked in the last few street races where it’s no secret that we struggled. The safety car timing didn’t help us and I wasn’t able to push at the end of that race but in general I think we’re quite well placed looking to Silverstone.
He’s coming home…
Nevermind the various ball-based sports or political machinations rumbling on; Jolyon Palmer is a man on a mission for his first ever home Grand Prix.
How are you looking forward to Silverstone?
I can’t wait to race in front of my home crowd. I love the track and it’s always a special weekend at Silverstone. The crowd is huge and so passionate even if you’re not British but for a British driver it takes on an extra level.
What is it about the circuit for you?
It’s certainly the Formula 1 track that I know the best so I’m hoping that gives me an extra boost along with all the home fan support. There are lots of high speed corners which I really like to drive and a lap has a really good flow to it. I had my first race at Silverstone when I was fifteen so I know the place pretty well! I’ve been on the podium in every category I’ve raced in there and I’ve won there too. It’s certainly been a good track for me till now so I hope that continues. I’ve got great memories so far; I’m hoping to create the most memorable memory with a terrific drive into the points there in 2016!
You seem to be pretty focused for a home result?
I’m always focused for any result! It’s true I’m feeling more and more confident from the last few races. I’ve been improving myself but also getting the car more as I want it. If we can find just a little bit more from the car then we can get into Q2 and from there you’re nearer to points potential in the race.
It’s quite an intense schedule of back-to-back races; does this have any bearing on you?
Bring it on! I like the back to backs. I was frustrated to be just shy of the points in Austria so there’s an extra motivation as the target is very close. If the safety car had played out differently in Spielberg we could have been in the top ten, but nevertheless I was pleased with my performance, with how the car was feeling and how the team was working. We’re all moving in the right direction.
You and Kev were dicing a reasonable amount in Spielberg?
We’re both in the same car and we’re both pushing hard so it’s natural we will be fighting for the same piece of track. I got a great start off the line, but it’s a crowded circuit and naturally Kev fought back. We were battling at other times during the race and we did have a joke about it afterwards. We’re both here to race and do the best job possible for the team.
Any time to present Top Gear?
My Formula 1 activities keep me far too busy to consider that, however I wouldn’t mind having a go at the rallycross course…
Keep moving forward…
An incident-free Austrian race for our boys before coming ‘home’ to one of the best-known track on the calendar, Nick Chester previews the British Grand Prix.
It was a fairly uneventful weekend for us in Austria, what did we learn from it?
We worked extensively on securing a good baseline through our Friday set-up work which resulted in both drivers being happy with the balance for the rest of the weekend. Austria is a really smooth track and more ‘normal’ compared to the three street tracks we experienced recently so it was good to feel that we had our car back to a decent baseline. We were unlucky in both qualifying and the race; Kev had the pace to get into Q2 but we lost out due to the timing of Kvyat’s shunt, which was unfortunate. Then both drivers had a reasonable race come Sunday but we could have finished further up without the safety car. We were on a two-stopper and had already made our first pitstop when it was deployed.
Moving on to the British Grand Prix, how are we approaching Silverstone?
We have a few small updates for the Grand Prix as it’s back-to-back with Austria which doesn’t leave much time. However there is more coming for the test, where we actually have time to evaluate things properly. Silverstone is a track we know very well and we will be working towards having a nice stable car in the high-speed corners, avoiding too much understeer – which can be tricky at Silverstone – and catering for some of the bumpier areas of the circuit.
You mentioned testing, what do we have planned for our two days at Silverstone?
We have a variety of work planned, from a substantial programme on the aero package with new parts to be tested and confirming some of the work we have already done, to suspension work which will include new parts for both the front and rear suspension. It’s quite a busy programme.
We will have Jolyon Palmer and Sergey Sirotkin in the car for testing, what do we expect from Sergey?
Sergey has done a great job in GP2 so far and we expect him to do the same for us. He drove our car during free practice in Sochi of course, and we know he is a pretty sensible driver. There will be a good testing programme for him to get through while he is with us.
How is the 2017 programme coming along?
The majority of our work is now focused on 2017. We are at the stage where we are defining the chassis, looking at cooling and suspension layouts and developing bodywork in the wind tunnel. The programme has shifted heavily towards 2017 and we are working through it completely with our power unit colleagues as one team. There is a lot of work on packaging between both sites which is really interesting as there are a lot of opportunities on how we install the power unit in the chassis and how we get the best of both to make a good car.
Minimising understeer through Luffield is essential to ensure good speed down the straight, as this leads on through Copse, then subsequently into the Becketts complex and on to Stowe.
Taken almost flat out, Copse is one of the most daunting corners of the season and a real test of nerve for the drivers.
Overall car balance is essential through the high-speed Becketts complex, which is entered at over 300kph with only minor throttle lift through the entire series of corners.
Vale is one of the slowest corners on the track – taken at around 100kph – and precedes the final right-hander of Club before the drivers pile down the start / finish straight.
Power Unit notes
- Silverstone counts as one of the power tracks of the season, with 61% of the lap spent at full throttle in qualifying and 56% in the race, plus an average speed of well over 200kph.
- There are six sustained periods of wide open throttle over the 5.891km lap. The Hangar Straight is the longest straight at 875m, which translates to 12secs at full throttle. Top speed peaks at over 320kph with DRS open. The other straights are the old pit straight (750m), the straight from Stowe to Club (600m), the pit straight (600m) and the Wellington Straight (700m). Additionally, the ICE will be flat out from Copse through to Chapel for approx. 2secs.
- Smooth turbo response is very important at Silverstone as the high speed turns are interlinked. The sweeping Maggots-Beckett-Chapel complex, for instance, sees average speeds of around 225kph and no lower than 180kph at any one point. The driver needs to keep a rhythm going so he can roll through the complex rather than brake and accelerate repeatedly.
- There are several low speed corners for the MGU-K to recover energy and keep the battery at a high level of charge. The Wellington Loop complex and Luffield are the most obvious corners to recover energy. Stowe presents another opportunity for the MGU-K as cars brake from well over 300kph to fifth gear and 180kph.
- Fuel consumption at Silverstone will be high since the lap is long and quick but the H and K will be able to recover enough to mean that fuel saving won’t be a concern during the race.
Hard: Charles Dickens. Gritty, long novels that hit home every time.
Medium: The universal themes and nature of William Shakespeare’s works are ever-popular.
Soft: The Jane Austen of the bunch. Romantic and soft at times, but still with bite and longevity.
Renault created F1 history when it debuted the revolutionary and highly experimental RS01 at the British GP on 17 July 1977. It became the first-ever manufacturer to race a turbocharged car in the championship. Frenchman Jean-Pierre Jabouille started the race however retired after 16 laps – but not before it had made a big impression. Just two years later the RS01 scored its first win on home ground in the 1979 French GP at Dijon. A move to twin turbos, improvements in cooling and reductions in vibrations and friction allowed power and speeds to reach unprecedented levels, with more than 1,000bhp seen on race day and 1,300bhp in qualifying by the mid-80s – just seven years after the turbo made its first appearance.
The first British Grand Prix very nearly had a different venue. In 1948, RAF Snitterfield, near Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, was one of two disused airfields considered for the British Grand Prix. Silverstone was eventually chosen.
The crest of Northamptonshire features a bull and a hart. The Bull represents the leather industry, while a chain around the neck of the Hart represents the steel industry, both cornerstones of the Northamptonshire industries.
Church’s shoes, which is based in Northampton, make 5,000 pairs of shoes a week, 70 per cent of which are exported. The town is the centre of the British shoe making industry and its football team is nicknamed The Cobblers.
Whittlebury forest has many legends, including one about a beautiful lady who spurned her lovers affections to the point that he took his life. The revenge he sought was to chase her to death with his hounds for eternity. Some people say they can hear a loud “whoop” as he incites his hounds.
The A5, which runs close to Silverstone, is originally a Roman road that connected London to North Wales and the Irish Sea. It was used as a border between King Alfred and the Vikings, separating Danelaw from Wessex. Place names around the road bear witness to this mixed heritage. Some are Roman (Towcester), Saxon (Northampton) and others Viking (Corby).
What we’ve been up to…
Our electric cousins in Formula E, Renault e.dams, had a storming weekend of racing over the weekend. Heading into the last event of the year, a double-header in London, the team lead the teams’ championship but there was all to play for in the drivers’ race. A double win for Nico Prost gave Renault e.dams the title in style, but the drivers’ championship was just epic. Sébastien Buemi was equal on points with Lucas di Grassi before the final race of the year. Di Grassi would win on countback if neither scored, so the first-lap collision between the two in the last race could have spelt disaster. Séb needed at least one point to secure the crown so he had no other choice but to chase for the fastest lap point. A penultimate blinder for Séb was enough… will take a while for our fingernails to grow back from that one!
Renault Sport Academy Roundup
The Austrian Grand Prix weekend saw a trio of RSA drivers in action in Spielberg with Oliver Rowland finishing a best-ever of second in GP2 the best result from the weekend. The weekend before Louis Delétraz went one better and took to the top step of the podium in Formula V8 3.5 at Paul Ricard.
After a third position in Baku Oliver Rowland moved one step up the podium in Austria, taking second in the wet sprint race after finishing in sixth in the feature race. Could his home event at Silverstone mean the progression to the top step is in store?
“Austria was another solid weekend. We didn’t quite have the one lap pace but in the races we featured strongly. I was slightly unlucky at the start of the feature race but I managed to fight my way back through to P6. Starting third for race two I managed to have a strong wet race and finish second. Next up is my home race where I will be hoping to secure my first victory of the season.”
Round 4 of the Formula V8 3.5 in Paul Ricard in the south of France saw a win for Louis Delétraz in the second race of the weekend (24-26 June). Louis qualified and finished sixth in the first race of the weekend but translated a P3 grid spot to the win after making an earlier pit stop than his rivals. He moves to just 20 points off the championship lead. Louis will next be out in action on 23-24 July 2016 at Silverstone.
“It was an amazing second race! We were quick since the start of the weekend, punctuated with some unlucky moments, but we just brought it all together. We decided on a different strategy to the others and kept pushing all the way through. The team made it work with an amazing pitstop and I am very happy for the win.”
The second race meeting of the GP3 Series season wasn’t a special weekend for Kevin Joerg. After qualifying 19th, Kevin was embroiled in a multi-car scrap for position just outside the top ten in the feature race, where an eleventh place finish translated to 13th after penalties. The sprint race was more difficult with an issue getting away at the start, meaning a P14 finish in the safety car rich race.
“That was pretty much a weekend to forget. Having lacked pace in free practice and qualifying, the first race went reasonably well and we finished 11th from 19th, but unfortunately I received a ten-second penalty for something I couldn’t really do anything about, which dropped me to 13th. The car then wouldn’t fire up at the beginning of race two, so I had to start from the pit-lane and because it was so wet, we spent almost the entire time behind the Safety Car and finished 14th. It definitely wasn’t the weekend any of us had wanted, but I think we should be a lot stronger at Silverstone, like we were in Barcelona. I truly believe we have some good inherent pace in this car, so I’m really looking forward to next weekend.”
Also in action in the GP3 Series in Austria, Jack Aitken qualified P15 and made strong moves to finish in the top ten in the feature race then make even further progress in Sunday’s sprint race to finish in fifth.
“Considering how disappointing qualifying was, we had two really strong races where we moved forward, and showed very good pace, so looking forward to Silverstone! We’ll definitely be looking to get onto the podium.”
Renault Sport Formula One Team Third, Reserve and Test Driver Action
Pole in Austria in the GP2 Series for Sergey didn’t translate to a podium whilst Nicholas had some spirited battles with rivals as well as the conditions. Esteban’s been busy preparing for outings for both Renault Sport Formula One Team and Mercedes AMG at Silverstone.
Esteban Ocon will be driving for Renault Sport Formula One Team at Silverstone in FP1 of the Grand Prix weekend then changing shirts to drive the Mercedes AMG F1 car for both days of the post-race test.
Austria saw Sergey Sirotkin take his second GP2 Series pole position of the season but a race-affected feature race meant a P8 finish and an added penalty on top to leave him classified twelfth. The sprint race was stronger for Sergey, translating his P12 start to sixth come the chequered flag. Silverstone sees Sergey once more in GP2 action whilst in the post-race test Sergey will be driving one day for Renault Sport Formula One team.
“We were very quick in practice and qualifying but that was the best part of the weekend as you didn’t see our potential in the final results. In the feature race I was losing some time and a few positions but it was a big mess with the safety car and the red flag. We’ve been a bit unlucky with that and then I got a penalty after the race which was really unfortunate. In Sunday’s sprint race the wet conditions could have brought us a bit more opportunities. We used them actually and I gained some positions during the race. Finishing P6 from P12 on the grid is fine. We did the maximum we could. I am now looking forward to Silverstone to see what we can do.”
It was a mixed weekend for Nicholas Latifi in Austria with P17 in qualifying after an off in practice backed-up by a work through the order to P12 which translated to tenth in the final standings after penalties for other competitors. An eye-catching charge in the sprint race ultimately went unrewarded after a spin in the difficult wet conditions.
“The accident in free practice set us back in qualifying, I was still trying to find my rhythm while everybody else was pushing, which left us far further down the grid than we should have been. In the feature race, the weather conspired against us and even on the supersoft tyres at the final re-start, we struggled to get temperature into them and they wore out quickly. I had a lot of fun in the sprint coming through the pack, but in hindsight, I probably pushed my rear tyres too hard and couldn’t maintain that rhythm, with the lack of grip pitching me into a spin.”