Silverstone is all about the most demanding corners. But what does that mean exactly? This year, these will be some of the fastest corners in Formula 1 history – and in the whole history of motorsport. But that’s nothing new. Since Silverstone hosted the very first Formula 1 meeting in world championship history back in 1950, the defining characteristic of the British track was always its rapid speeds. This was largely down to the layout, based on a former airfield. Only five years earlier, the Wellington bombers of the RAF, took off and landed on its runways, en route to the Allied Forces victory that ended the Second World War.
After the war finished, a few corners and the perimeter roads were enough to turn Silverstone airfield into a racing circuit, allowing the British passion for cars and racing to be well and truly indulged.
Right from then – the very beginning – Silverstone was synonymous with speed. In a different way to Monza, where the cars have been exceeding 300kph on the pit straight since time immemorial, but the biggest corners were neutered by chicanes in the 1970s. At Silverstone, it’s precisely in the corners that the cars really fly. Wide corners, on asphalt that’s not necessarily millpond smooth, but still allows different trajectories and corrections, where the entire history of Formula 1 has been written. Pages and pages of it, also featuring cars that once had limited downforce and flat front wings, with drivers fuelled by optimism. These heroes were able to masterfully drift round corners in their rapid cars, which were light and sensitive to even the slightest gust of wind, requiring instant correction with a deft application of opposite lock.