Will it be a very soggy Silverstone this weekend?

With the British Grand Prix just days away, wheelworldreviews editor DAVID HOOPER previews the race which, for many British fans, is the highlight of the Formula 1 calendar. We also have the latest shocking news on Maria de Villota after her terrible crash during testing earlier this week.

The fast and flowing Silverstone circuit is a favourite with the drivers.

THIS weekend sees Formula 1 return to Britain – the country many regard as the spiritual home of the sport.
Another sell-out crowd will welcome the teams and drivers to what is now a world class circuit – Silverstone – a track which is a firm favourite of the drivers thanks to its fast, flowing nature.
Silverstone, however, has not always hosted the British Grand Prix. The anoraks out there will know that the event, although quite different in nature, was originally held at Brooklands, from 1926 to 1927, before moving to Aintree, in Liverpool, a venue better known today for the running of the Grand National rather than the racing of cars, but between 1955 to 1962, it witnessed much excitement and drama, holding the race every other year.
Then, from 1963 to 1986, it was the turn of Brands Hatch to stage the event, alternating with Silverstone.
From 1987 though, it has been Silverstone which has played host to the drama and excitement that is Formula 1.
The British weather has often played its part in mixing things up, and this year looks likely to serve up more of the same as the unpredictable and unseasonal weather could quite literally throw a spanner in the works and keep the teams on their toes and the pit crews fully occupied.
Our graphic reveals the most successful teams and drivers at the event over the years, with British drivers having won 22 of the 62 races – four times more than the next most successful nation.
McLaren and Ferrari are neck-and-neck in the race for the team to have won the event the most times, with 15 wins apiece – and who would bet against either of them grabbing the win this weekend to make it 16.
It’s also a tie for the most successful driver, with Jim Clark and Alain Prost having claimed five wins each. Nigel Mansell is on four, but Michael Schumacher, who made his long-awated return to the podium last time out, has only won it three times, while his modern-day arch-rival Fernando Alonso has won it twice.
Will Alonso make it a hat-trick of British GP wins this weekend?

Two stories are dominating the talk around the paddock this weekend. The first is a rumour that Sebastian Vettel has signed for Ferrari for the 2013/2014 season. If true, that would see the German replace Massa alongside Alonso who is widely regarded as the best driver in the current field – and what an illustrious field it is this year – truly a golden era for Formula One with six world champions racing against each other for the first time in the sport’s history.
The Red Bull team has strongly denied the rumour about their double-world champion driver, who celebrated his 25th birthday earlier this week – but they would, wouldn’t they?
The other big story this week is the terrible crash involving Maria de Villota during testing at Duxford, in Cambridgshire. She was driving the Oxfordshire-based Marussia’s Formula 1 car when she apparently accelerated into a parked truck in her MR-01 racing car.
It has now been confirmed that the 32-year-old Spaniard has lost her right eye after suffering serious head and facial injuries, for which she is being treated at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
This shocking accident reminds us once again how dangerous the sport we all love can be.
We wish Maria a speedy recovery.

• Remember to follow Tom Wilkinson live on Twitter @TomWilkinson89 #TWF1 throughout the Grand Prix weekend and come back to read our race report here at www.wheelworldreviews.co.uk