Michael Bailey: Formula One comes home to Silverstone’s new look

Obviously it is biased to say – but the British Grand Prix always feels like Formula One returning home. That's how it feels on these shores, at least.

Three teams still run under a British licence, while another five of the 12 teams have a main base here in the UK – making the travelling for them, for once, a little easier.

Force India are based off a roundabout at the circuit. They will probably be able to roll down a hill straight into the new paddock.

Last year, the circuit's revamped Arena configuration drew pretty good reviews, while this year will see the use of a new start/finish straight – as well as the dramatic Silverstone Wing: a �28m piece of startling architecture that will dominate the skyline in suitable style.

The new roof totals almost 10,000 square metres, touching 30m high at the tip of the blade – and all ready on time and under budget for the best drivers in the world.


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Last season it was Mark Webber who triumphed, freshly fuelled by seeing the new front wing on his Red Bull taken off his car and placed onto that of his team-mate, Sebastian Vettel. It all led to the Australian's cry after crossing the chequered flag: 'Not bad for a number two driver.'

It must be said, there is no real shame in being number two at present. Vettel is in a class of his own. He has had the luck – in terms of reliability – over Webber. But he has also had the measure of the new Pirelli tyres, and an almost unshakeable ability to make the most of almost every opportunity that pops in front of him.

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Even though the halfway point in the season is yet to arrive, it already feels like a second drivers' title is the German's to throw away.

Silverstone will not do the chasing pack many favours either.

Fast, flowing with a need for plenty of grip, the 18-turn track plays into Red Bull's hands – hence their two wins here in two seasons.

But then there will be the 300,000-plus fans piling through the gates over the weekend – the majority of which will be willing on Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Paul di Resta to deliver something special at their home circuit.

But that may be tricky for McLaren and Force India. This weekend sees the introduction of limits on how much downforce can be aided by hot exhaust gases when a driver is not using the throttle to drive the car forward – referred to as engine mapping. How that affects the time-sheets will be the weekend's big talking point.

And hopefully close behind will be a return to form for F1, following Valencia's drab European affair a fortnight ago. It would be the perfect way to mark Formula One dropping in on home for the weekend.

• It is a big weekend for me – luckily heading off to Silverstone to sample the F1 circus at first hand; the battles of a local journalist against the global media should be an interesting one to follow – so keep an eye on edp24.co.uk/f1 during the weekend.

It also promises to be a big weekend for Hingham's Team Lotus, at one of two home tracks for the Anglo-Malaysian team – but by far the easiest for them to get to.

The Norfolk outfit has been busy with a two-day straight-line test this week at Kemble, in the Cotswold countryside. Here's hoping they found a bit of time from somewhere.

What Team Lotus definitely did gain in Kemble was exposure for their new livery, including some big side-pod branding for Caterham – the Dartford small sports car manufacturer bought by Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes in the spring.

Caterham has already been handed a place in the name of Hingham's sister GP2 team – creating the rather verbose Caterham Team Air Asia – and will now be given prominent coverage in F1. So long as the T128s actually make it on to the screens, that is – the last few races have been pretty quiet.

There has also been movement on the Lotus court battle, where Hethel's Group Lotus failed in the High Court to stop Hingham from using the iconic marque.

Group Lotus' leave to appeal has also been rejected – so they are apparently aiming for the Court of Appeal. What's more, Hethel is now not happy with Team Lotus' purchase of Caterham, a company built around the old Type Seven Lotus. Group feels it confuses things, as well as cutting onto their road car turf.

Mr Justice Peter Smith made a point of picking up this case, following on from dealing with the last one.

The case is likely to be heard later this month, by which time the irony of Group Lotus' latest move may have sunk in.

• A slight change of tack – maybe even sacrilege to those of a passionate four-wheel disposition – but the British Superbikes show at Snetterton last weekend was a belter.

Overtaking, last lap anguish, racing on the finest of lines and some almighty crashes – it really was a meeting to remember.

The support races delivered too, with Sprowston's Jake Newstead – a likeable guy with a promising future – taking his first podium at national level, on his home track. Brilliant.

But what undoubtedly produced to everyone's liking was Snetterton itself; the new three-mile format passing the biggest test yet of its �4m redevelopment with 190mph-blurred colours.

Its increased technicality caught out plenty, while the views – both for the 43,000 at the circuit and people watching at home – were as good as you will get anywhere in the country.

And it all means that if anything signals Norfolk's future motorsport prospects, the dazzling new Snetterton circuit is it.

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