Silverstone means a lot to Scuderia Ferrari. It was the scene of its maiden Formula 1 win, in 1951 when José Froilán González drove a 375 to victory. It has always been a classic on the calendar, but is the track the same as in yesteryear? Definitely not: in González’s day the track was under 5 kilometres in length and a race distance involved no less than 90 laps and the Argentinian’s average speed on his way to pole position was only a little over 160 km/h. But even then, it was a superfast track and when Ferrari took pole and the win in 1990 with Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost respectively, their 641s both exceeded 250.
Those were the days when Nigel would tell the young test drivers back in Maranello, that at Silverstone, “you never brake.” There was an element of truth in that because the old layout did not put too much stress on the discs and pads. Since then, the circuit has been redesigned several times, the last in 2011 with the creation of the Arena Circuit measuring 5.8 kilometres.
Its character has changed, the facility has been modernised and inevitably, it has lost some of the magic from the days when the motorhomes were parked on a grass paddock, used to host barbecues with all the drivers in attendance. But it still has plenty to recommend it, as a very technical circuit, which, above all, rewards aerodynamic efficiency at the corner entry and in the many changes of direction.