Ahead of Sunday’s British Grand Prix, Bucks Herald reporter Andrew Kay cycled the world famous Silverstone race track to see what makes it such a unique challenge.
The first thing that struck me as I (slowly) pedalled around the 3.66 mile circuit was the fact it is not flat.
It may look smooth and level on TV and when compared to other race tracks, but there are gradients all over the place. As you head down the 770m Hangar Straight it rises towards the end, then as you turn the corner the ground drops away and you find yourself picking up speed.
Silverstone is regarded as a circuit with ‘medium’ bumpiness. You know that feeling when you drive across a slightly uneven surface and get rocked from side to side – well with F1 cars averaging 145mph around the circuit, you soon realise why we see the drivers’ heads bouncing around on TV.
The kerbs are also much higher than they look. If you imagine the yellow lines you find as you approach a roundabout on a 60mph A-road, well multiply that slight bump by 50! Even on a push bike it was quite uncomfortable.
I was also surprised to find small potholes on some parts of the track (yes seriously) and that the surface constantly changes, as some parts have clearly been resurfaced but others have not. You can also feel how the changing cambers of each corner could help or hinder when you throw a car around them at high speed.
Top drivers call this sort of knowledge the track’s ‘secrets’ and the racer who knows every inch of the circuit is usually the one on pole. The circuit has a nice flow to it and every section is different. You can see why drivers always believe there is more lap time to be found.