It is the birthplace of the Formula 1 World Championship and the cradle of modern British motorsport. And it goes without saying that everybody within the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team has a liking for the Santander British Grand Prix.
As one of the team’s two ‘home’ grands prix --- the other takes place at Hockenheim on July 20 --- this race welcomes many of our colleagues from our two facilities in Woking and Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines. As such, it is one of the busiest events on the team’s calendar.
The team arrives at the circuit fresh from three days’ testing at Silverstone. Both Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen have sampled numerous aerodynamic and mechanical upgrades and the team is upbeat about the improvements made to the MP4-23’s overall competitiveness.
The Santander British Grand Prix is your home race --- does that make it different for you?
There’s something about racing in your home country that definitely affects you. You can’t really say what it is, but there’s something – it could be the familiar surroundings or the constant crowd support that boost you throughout the whole weekend. It’s not something you experience anywhere else so it does make you determined to succeed.
Nigel Mansell used to talk about the home crowd being worth ‘one second per lap’ --- does people power make a difference?
I don’t know about it being worth ‘a second per lap’, but being at your home grand prix does give you an extra boost because you know you’re getting more support. And it seems to make you perform better. Last year at Silverstone, I found the support was immense and definitely, it made the weekend a lot easier to get through.
What about the track itself?
It’s one of the best circuits on the calendar --- a real driver’s circuit. It’s super fast --- the first half of the circuit doesn’t require any braking at all, just little lifts and shifts down through the gears. In fact, you need to watch the brake temperatures don’t drop too low because you’re not using them for much of the lap. Where else can you experience that? Formula 1 just wouldn’t be the same without Silverstone --- it’s become a British phenomenon.
And, of course, winning at home must be an ambition for you?
Of course, winning your home race is something that every driver wants to achieve. People talk of winning the ‘big four’: Silverstone, Monaco, Monza and Spa. But it’s more straightforward for me. I want to win the first race of the season; I want to win Monte Carlo --- which I did for the first time this year --- and I want to win my home grand prix. Those are my goals and I’m ready for the challenge at Silverstone this weekend.
Courtesy: Johnnie Walker