Round 12 – Silverstone
Few will forget the disaster last year that saw the British Grand Prix cancelled at the last minute (Link), when it was found that the then recently refurbished circuit surface had no real provisions to drain water. Large puddles had formed at different points of the track on Saturday. In turn 7, better known as Stowe, the accumulation of water was enormous and several riders, Tito Rabat being one of them, crashed. When Tito got up to reach the safety of the trackside barriers, he was hit by Franco Morbidelli’s bike with full force which left Rabat with a number of fractures.
Rain had continued to fall on Sunday and after morning warm-up a decision was reached that conditions were not safe to race, the new track surface judged too dangerous in the rain. Racing was therefore cancelled and Silverstone management was left very red faced.
Since that debacle Silverstone has gone another resurfacing program at what is one of the fastest tracks on the MotoGP calendar. Due to the 2019 surface not being tested at by MotoGP and Michelin there is an extended range of rubber available to riders this weekend. Michelin named a range of four front and four rear slick tyres during the pre-season allocation, which is allowed within the rules of MotoGP if a circuit has not been tested on. This range will see soft, medium and two versions of hard compound for both the front and rear Michelin Power Slicks. The front medium and hard compounds will be symmetric, whilst the front soft and all the rears will be asymmetric with a harder right-hand-side to manage the 10 corners that travel in that direction and although there are 8 lefts making the design of the circuit almost symmetric, there is more stress put on the right side of the tyre so the harder rubber is needed to give optimum performance.
As was demonstrated last season, wet weather can be expected at any time during a British summer, so the range of wets could be called into operation at any moment during the weekend. The allocation will feature symmetric soft and medium front tyres, with asymmetric soft and medium rears with the harder right-hand-side like their slick counterparts.
Piero Taramasso – Michelin
“It was a huge disappointment for all involved with what happened last year at Silverstone, but the circuit has done a good job and had it totally resurfaced, but this means we are heading there with no knowledge of how the surface will actually perform. The range of tyres that we have selected is based on data supplied to us from the company that laid the asphalt, so we have some information of what types of stones and other materials have been used to make up the surface. It is always a challenge to go somewhere we haven’t tested at; this is why we had it placed in the rules that we could take four tyres to give the riders every opportunity to find the best compound for them and their bike. We are confident with our allocation and are looking forward to see how the new surface behaves, we have initial good reports, but want to experience it for ourselves, and of course we are certainly hoping for good weather, but we are going to England so who knows what will happen!”
Silverstone MotoGP Form Guide
In 2013 it was Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) who took on now-teammate Marc Marquez in one of the all-time great showdowns at Silverstone. The year after, Marquez returned the favour.
2015 saw Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) emerge from a rain-soaked race day to take to the top step, before Maverick Viñales, now at Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, took the spoils for Suzuki the following year.
Then it was Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) painting Silverstone red in 2017, and that makes it five riders and four factories who have made British turf their own in the last five races there. They’ve also all done it in style, because Silverstone usually stages a classic. Can 2019 deliver the same?
After the disappointment of 2019 Silverstone is back open for business with high expectations and new asphalt, and Friday’s feedback will be an interesting listen. But one thing that’s never changed is the stunning layout, with 18 corners pushing man and machine to the maximum around a high-speed ribbon of tarmac that snakes it way around the former airfield. Vast and fast is apt.
So who will rule Britannia in 2019? Almost all the likely contenders really have been a winner in the UK. The most recent victor, Andrea Dovizioso, also arrives on top of the world after his stunning Austrian GP triumph. He’ll be one to watch, as is usually the case. But then so will Marquez, who has sometimes had a rockier road on race day at Silverstone but whose pace in qualifying has seen him take four premier class poles at the venue. Could we get another duel? Will the reigning Champion strike back?
Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales, meanwhile, will be aiming to make sure it’s a much bigger fight at the front. Rossi’s speed at Silverstone seems to grow year on year and Viñales’ record at the track is impressive. He won his first race there so there are some good memories, and he was also the man closest to Dovizioso last time we raced in the UK. And then there’s Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT)…
The French rookie will know the venue has often been a good one for his bike, but does that even make that much difference? The number 20 equalled Yamaha’s best result at the Red Bull Ring, where it should have been a much harder task than he made it look, and everywhere he goes, he goes fast. He’s back at the top of the Independent Team rider standings as well, and could be a key contender.
And what of Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar)? His bike is a winner at Silverstone, before he was the man on it or even in the class, and it was a landmark day back in 2016 for the Hamamatsu factory. Rins himself is now back on form after ironing out two uncharacteristic mistakes before the summer break, and he’s unlikely to settle for anything that’s not an assault on the win at the very least. He’s a man with a bigger box to tick than many now he’s taken his first win this season, and is a big candidate to be the sixth different winner at Silverstone since 2013.
The man just ahead of him, Ducati Team’s Danilo Petrucci, could be another although he’s looking for more of a bounce back after a tough Austria, as is Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), the man now behind Quartararo in the aforementioned Independent Team rider standings.
And lurking just behind him is Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol). It’s been a tougher year at times for the Brit, but on home turf he’ll give it everything to be back in the fight at the front he’s so often been part of. And he’s had pole at Silverstone before, so the speed is there and he’ll want to convert it into big points and a podium in front of the home crowd. He’s done it before.
The man for whom a return is the real key phrase, however, is Jorge Lorenzo. After a long period of recovery from his injuries sustained in Assen, the five-time World Champion is expected back on track at Silverstone and it’s a good venue for it. Lorenzo has three wins there, including that stunner in 2013, and good memories aplenty.
Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) is also back in action at Suzuki after his Brno testing crash, so he’ll want to get stuck in to making up some ground to those ahead of him: the likes of Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). There’s a lot at stake in the tight fight for the top ten.
After he scored his best ever premier class result to date in Austria just a few days ago, Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Oliveira can’t wait to arrive at the British GP to begin where he left off with his progress. At the same time, Syahrin will arrive fit again following his crash at the Red Bull Ring, where he sustained a head concussion and a graze on his right elbow. With just a few days of rest, the Malaysian was back training aboard a bike last week and is keen to perform well in Great Britain.
Hervé Poncharal -Red Bull KTM Tech3 Team Manager
“The next Grand Prix on the calendar for the Red Bull KTM Tech3 team is round 12 in Silverstone. For sure, everybody is hoping to have a better weekend than the one, we experienced last year. I believe that the tarmac has been resurfaced and following what we heard, they did a fantastic job and hopefully, we can have a great race on decent tarmac at this amazing very fast and super interesting circuit, which always delivers great racing. Outside of that, the Red Bull KTM Tech3 team moves to the UK with very positive feelings as Miguel did by far his best Grand Prix weekend so far and we enjoyed the evolution parts a lot, that we received the Monday after the Czech GP. Apart from his best result, he also did the sixth fastest lap, which is very positive and fast, although I’m not sure, that he is going to do that everywhere. At the moment, there’s a very confident feeling inside the Tech3 team. For sure, Miguel is more than keen to start Friday in the same frame of mind like he finished that Austrian race. On the other side, I’m very glad and relieved that Hafizh came out of hospital on Monday morning. I know, that he is already training, pushing to recover and let’s hope that the bad luck, he had since we are back from the summer break, is going to disappear, because I’m pretty sure that he and his KTM RC16 can be fast and get a decent result in Silverstone. Hopefully we can be at the same level as in Austria in terms of results, but for sure, this round will be quieter in terms of political decisions. We all know now, that Tech3 will be in the MotoGP and the Moto3 class next season, so with all this news out, I believe that we can work with less pressure at the British Grand Prix and a big smile on our faces, knowing that the future is going to be bright.”
MotoGP Championship Points Standings
Silverstone MotoGP Schedule
Sunday’s schedule will have a different running order and timetable to usual, with the main event preceding Moto2 this weekend and getting underway at 1300 local with equates to 2200 for those of us on Australia’s eastern seaboard.