We asked Lewis Hamilton’s race engineer Phil Prew to give us the inside line
“Silverstone is becoming increasingly unique in its set-up. It is characterised by its high-speed corners, and that leads us to high downforce. You also need good stability and change of direction because of the Becketts complex and the high-speed turn-in at Copse and Stowe.
“Typically we run the car quite stiff, so it’s responsive. Most time is derived from the first two-thirds of the lap, so you set the car up for high speed and deal with the low-speed complex as best you can. It’s demanding on the front tyres, so we tend to run hard tyres. The rears have a hard time, because of the length of the corners, and the fact you’re leaning on them.
“In terms of balance, understeer is a big factor. It’s a case of how far you can push the car to have enough front end while maintaining stability to support change of direction and getting back on the power. It’s going to be a big challenge without traction control. We think of it as helping in low-speed corners, but it was supportive through high-speed corners too. It was a confidence boost for the driver.
“The circuit is sensitive to wind direction, particularly through Copse and Becketts. With a tailwind you lose lap time and get understeer, which can contribute significantly to tyre usage.”
“Copse is mega. You lift rather than brake: they approach flat out in seventh and go through at 260km/h plus. The key through Becketts is keeping a rhythm. You need response from the car and a secure rear end. The circuit is strange in that the first time you hit the brakes is Turn 5, halfway through Becketts. There are two big stops into Vale and Abbey. There are big demands on the rear, and a lot of lap time to be gained or lost. Your speed on the exit of Club has a large influence on the speed you take down the straight into Abbey, so that’s quite an important corner. The other significant corner is Priory. You have to carry speed through there, and mid-corner apex speed is important. It’s probably one of the hardest on the circuit because it’s different to all the others. You have a lot of front end in the car to avoid understeer, and that’s not ideal for Luffield, the last two slow corners. You’ll have a very oversteery car, and that’ll be hard without traction control. In slow corners you lose lap time quickly.”
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