How to pick a British Grand Prix winner

Are you trying to work out who to put your money on for this weekend’s British Grand Prix?

Here are two indicators of success you could consider: first, the teams’ recent form at the Silverstone track; and second, what the season so far has told us about who’s quick where.

Red Bull’s Silverstone form

Red Bull have been the team to beat at Silverstone in the last few years. Its high-speed curves reward a car with superior downforce. As a result, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber have claimed pole position for the last three races at the track.

They’ve also enjoyed converting that advantage into victory, with the exception of last year, when a slow pit stop handed the initiative to Fernando Alonso. Nonetheless, Red Bull had both cars on the podium.

On the strength of that form, Red Bull look like the team to tip. Vettel has the shortest odds for another pole position – 2.60 – while last year’s pole sitter Webber is priced at a more attractive 11.00. Their prices for race victory are 3.25 and 12.00 respectively.

McLaren and Ferrari’s Silverstone strengths

We now come to our second indicator of success: the teams’ performance at similar circuits this year. This urges us look to the likes of Ferrari and McLaren instead of Red Bull for this weekend’s winner.

The significance of Vettel’s performance advantage in the opening laps of the last race in Valencia will not have been lost on experienced F1 observers. But Valencia is very different to Silverstone, with slow corners, long straights and high temperatures. Red Bull excelled at a similar venue – Bahrain – earlier this year, but are unsure whether the performance upgrade introduced at Valencia will offer them as much of an advantage at Silverstone.

When it comes to circuits closer in style to Silverstone, such as Sepang and the Circuit de Catalunya, it’s McLaren who have looked most competitive. But for his qualifying penalty at the Spanish Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton would have been on pole position by an emphatic margin. His subsequent drive gave every indication he would have enjoyed a straightforward win.

Ferrari, too, believe they have a car that is well-suited to Silverstone’s sweeps. Felipe Massa’s race engineer Rob Smedley said: “our car has always been particularly suited to high speed corners and Silverstone is dominated by high speed turns for almost two-thirds of the track.”

So will you make your betting decision based on past form at the track, or recent form at similar venues?

If you plump for the latter, you’ll find Lewis Hamilton priced at 4.00 to win for McLaren at Silverstone and Fernando Alonso at 5.50 to repeat his 2011 victory for Ferrari. Their respective team mates have had difficult seasons and their odds are correspondingly longer: Jenson Button at 15.00, Felipe Massa 50.00.

Safety scare

The F1 world was stunned by the news of Maria de Villota’s crash at the wheel of Marussia’s MR02 car yesterday.

De Villota was driving the car in a straight-line aerodynamic test at Duxford aerodrome. As she was returning to the pit area at low speed after her first run, the car suddenly lurched out of control and into the side of the team’s support truck.The cockpit and de Villota’s crash helmet bore the brunt of an impact with the truck’s loading bay. An eyewitness estimated the speed of impact at “20 to 30 miles per hour”.

De Villota was airlifted from the scene and is being treated at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge The incident will surely refocus attention on cockpit protection for racing drivers and the shortage of opportunities for new racers to drive F1 machinery. But in the meantime let’s all hope De Villota makes a swift and full recovery.

Keith Collantine is the editor of Formula One blog F1 Fanatic.