Silverstone set for Grand Prix spectacle

The scene is set: Mark Webber is pictured passing the Silverstone Wing on his way to victory last year
The scene is set: Mark Webber is pictured passing the Silverstone Wing on his way to victory last year
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One of the highlights of the British sporting calendar is set to descend on Silverstone this weekend when the Grand Prix circuit hosts round eight of the 2013 F1 World Championship, write Colin and James Beckett.

The British Grand ranks high on the list of summer sporting events alongside Wimbledon, Royal Ascot and The Open and excitement is mounting ahead of this weekend’s big race that will blast away from the starting grid at 1pm on Sunday.

The World Championship is finely poised as the F1 circus embarks on its second leg of the European tour.

Fresh from a dominant victory in the last race in Canada, reigning world champion, Sebastian Vettel, arrives as the man to beat. The German holds a 36-point lead in the points table over his nearest rival, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. Kimi Raikkonen is placed third for the Lotus team.

Vettel, a previous winner at Silverstone, said in the build-up to the race: “The race for the title is very much on.

“Silverstone is a big race for the Red Bull team as we are based in nearby Milton Keynes. This is a home race for us and we have many friends from the factory coming to watch. I am determined I will put on a good show for the crowds.”

One person who will be attempting to stop Vettel’s march to victory in not only this race, but also the world championship, is Fernando Alonso.

Winner at Silverstone in 2011, the Spaniard said: “I like Silverstone very much and this race is very important for the championship. I can’t afford to lose too many points on my rivals and the best way to do that is to beat them and win. I aim to do that on Sunday.”

This will be the final Grand Prix for last year’s winner Mark Webber after he announced he will be retiring from the sport at the end of the season.

There will also be plenty of local teams involved, with Lewis Hamilton leading the way for the Brackley-based Mercedes AMG Petronas, while Scotsman Paul di Resta will be hoping for home success in his Sahara Force India car.

Meanwhile, former University of Buckingham student and Ferrari’s official test and reserve driver, Marc Gene, will be at Silverstone working for television companies this weekend.

He said: “This race is wide open. The strategies that the teams will use will totally be dictated by the wear of the tyres. That wear is very much unknown and will only become clear after practice and qualifying. In recent years both Red Bull and Ferrari have been very strong at Silverstone and myself, I expect a big battle between Vettel and Alonso. It should be a great race.”

Silverstone Grand Prix schedule: Friday 28: Free Practise 1, 10:00-11:30; Free Practise 2, 14:00-15:30. Saturday 29: Free Practise 3, 10:00-11:00; Qualifying, 13:00-14:00. Sunday: British Grand Prix, 52 laps, 13:00.