Silverstone testing as crucial as ever

Up to five Formula 1 teams, including Jaguar, McLaren and Benetton will take part in a major three-day test at Silverstone this week - despite the fact that the British Grand Prix is no longer held in July

Silverstone testing as crucial as ever

The quick nature of the Northamptonshire circuit makes it a favourite with teams in the run up to the German Grand Prix, due to the fact that both tracks are among the fastest on the calendar, and the Silverstone test will help the teams work on their low-downforce set-up.

Silverstone though, has more characteristics in common with its German counterpart than just high top speeds. Both circuits have a quick run at the end of the circuit, tempered with a highly technical 'complex' leading back onto the pit straight.

When a motorway was built near the old Mercedes Benz test track - once a vast oval-shaped track winding through a dense wood - in the 50s, it necessitated the 'chopping off' of one end of the track. A hairpin inserted into this new, tighter part of the track formed what is now the 'stadium' section.

Silverstone's infield matches this part of the track tolerably well, and gives the teams a similar compromise between straight-line speed and grip in the slow corners. Silverstone does not have any corners to match the fast chicanes at the German track, but top speeds are not dissimilar - F1 cars hit 190mph on the Hanger straight at Silverstone, but have been known to top 210mph with the aid of a tow on the long straights at Hockenheim.

Several British-based teams will make the short trip to their 'home' track. Jaguar will be present to test Champ Car regular Dario Franchitti, who is hot favourite for a race seat with the former Stewart Grand Prix team next season - as well as regular Grand Prix preparation.

Ferrari, as usual, will keep itself to itself in the run up to the Grand Prix - possibly at Mugello. This approach has not proved particularly successful for the Scuderia in recent years, as they tend to struggle at Hockenheim. However, Eddie Irvine won for the prancing horse last season, so Schumacher and Barrichello may yet have a chance to get back on the pace after a disappointing Austrian Grand Prix.

Franchitti to test for Jaguar: click here.

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