Our Silverstone track guide will help you perfect every corner to ensure you’re both fast and safe around the National Circuit.
Track guide from Fast Ford magazine. Words: Alex Nevill & Jamie King. Photos: Fast Ford archive.
While it might not offer the same thrills as the more undulating circuits and picturesque tracks in the UK, there’s something special about driving at Silverstone. It’s the home of British motorsport, and of course the Grand Prix – so even just a single track session at shows like Japfest, Ford Fair and TRAX means you can follow in the wheeltracks of some of motorsport’s biggest names, making it the petrolhead equivalent of having a kick-about with your mates at Wembley.
Silverstone National Track Guide
1 – Copse
The first corner in our Silverstone National track guide is Copse – the fast right-hander after the start/finish straight that famously made the headlines when Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen collided at the British Grand Prix in 2021.
As you approach the corner, you’ll want to brush the brakes before turning in as you approach the ‘50’ board on the driver’s left. On the inside of the corner, you’ll see two red markers to the right of the kerb; the first of these is your apex.
You’ll want your right tyres on the kerb here, and you should be hard on the throttle by this point, letting the car run out to the left-hand side on the exit until your left tyres are on the kerb. You shouldn’t be going any further than that, as otherwise you’ll be exceeding track limits, which is frowned upon.
Once you’ve exited Copse you’ll want to gently bring the car over to the driver’s right to set yourself up for Maggotts.
2 – Maggotts
Maggotts is up next in our Silverstone track guide and it’s a bit of an oddity on the National Circuit; it’s the point at which the National layout deviates from the GP circuit, cutting through the middle before joining the Wellington Straight.
Maggotts is an awkward but crucial corner; it doesn’t really matter how well you do it, it’ll always feel slightly underwhelming. You must be wary of that though, as it may lead you to push harder through the corner and over-drive, which will hurt your exit speed and cost you crucial time on the Wellington Straight.
There’s a slight curve to the left before the corner itself, so you’ll want to be on the right-hand side of the circuit as you approach. Gently turn in to the left; not to take the corner, but to position yourself properly for the right-hander that follows.
You can use the sausage kerb on your left as your brake marker. Make sure you’re in a straight line as you hit the brakes, or your lap could be ending in the gravel trap.
It’s a short braking zone, so make sure you’re hard on the brakes to get it slowed down for the corner in time and you’ll probably want to downshift to third gear. Because the road has turned slightly to the left and you’re braking in a straight line, the car will already be quite tight to the corner.
A tip here is to make sure you keep tight to the kerb until you’re off the GP circuit and onto the cut-through section, at which point you can start to release the steering and let the car run out to the left-hand side as you build speed and enter the Wellington Straight.
3 – Wellington Straight
Now it’s time to gun it. As you enter the straight, you’ll most likely be to the left of the track, but as you power down the straight, gently make your way over the right-hand side to better position the car for the next corner at Brooklands. But keep an eye in your mirrors for faster cars as you do so.
4 – Brooklands
After the Wellington Straight you will be heading towards the Brooklands complex.
Here is the best overtaking opportunity on the circuit if you’re racing. It’s a very late apex for this corner, which means looking long towards the apex is very important.
There’s usually a board to the driver’s right indicating that you need to turn left; turn just after that but make sure you’re looking ahead to your apex, otherwise you’ll find yourself too tight to the corner.
The most common mistake for newcomers and inexperienced drivers is to turn in far too early here, which not only compromises your entry to the next corner, but often sees you end up straight across the track and off onto the infield.
You’ll notice some tarmac to your left where the old GP circuit used to join the current layout; the apex is just beyond where the two tracks merge. It can be tempting here to stay wide and cut back in for the apex. It’ll feel faster on the exit, but as it’s a very short straight afterwards it won’t compensate for the longer line you’ve taken through the corner itself.
5 – Luffield
Luffield follows almost immediately after Brooklands. As with Maggotts it always feels a little underwhelming, and the key is not to over-drive it. The car will be on the right-hand side of the circuit after Brooklands and there’s no time to move over to the left, so it’s a very shallow entry to the corner.
Focus on smooth braking and turning, keep tight to the inside kerb, and be smooth with the throttle through the corner and the exit. If you can hear tyre squeal, you’re losing time. If it’s at the start of the corner, it’s either because you haven’t braked enough or you’re being too aggressive with the wheel. If it’s tyre squeal from mid-corner onwards, you probably need a little less throttle.
6 – Woodcote
Woodcote is the last corner on the National Circuit, and the last in our Silverstone track guide, but if it’s dry this isn’t much of a corner. You can’t gain time through here, but you can lose it. Make sure your input on the wheel is minimal – the car accelerates best in a straight line, after all, so try to smooth out the racing line as much as possible. Also, think about how tightly you’re holding the steering wheel; a tight grip on the wheel will make it harder to move the wheel and turn the car, which will mean more turning and therefore less speed. It’ll also wear you out more.
7 – Finish Line
And that concludes our Silverstone track guide to the National Circuit. The more laps you complete, the more familiar you will become with the surroundings and the better the feel you will have for your car and the conditions, meaning you can expect to get faster and faster throughout the day.
The key, though, is to build things gradually and improve on your previous lap. That way, you can learn what works and what doesn’t.
Silverstone GP Circuit advice
The start of the 3.66-mile GP circuit is on the newly-named Hamilton Straight opposite the Wing. Almost flat out, the first corner to tackle is the right-hander of Abbey, which leads immediately into the left-hander of Farm before you brake heavily into the right-handed turn three; Village Corner. The even slower left-hander of the Loop comes immediately after, and leads into the opening left-hander of Aintree, before heading down the Wellington Straight.
Turn six, the left-hander of Brooklands, is tight and leads immediately into the right-hand hairpin of Luffield. The right-handed kink of Woodcote leads cars down the old pit straight, before the difficult fast right-hander of Copse. Then, comes the challenging complex of Maggotts, Becketts and Chapel – a fast left-right-left-right-left complex. This then leads down the 770-metre Hangar Straight with the fast right-hander of Stowe at the end.
The fifteenth turn of the track, Stowe, precedes a short straight, named Vale, which leads downhill towards the Club complex. Heavy braking is required for the left-hander of turn 16, and understeer can be an issue for the next right-handers of turns 17 and 18, as you tentatively accelerate round to the start-finish straight. As you’d expect, the surface is excellent, though some standing water can gather in places in very wet conditions.
Just off the A43 in Northants, Silverstone is easily reached from the M1 and track days start at £219 for a full day on the National circuit.
Silverstone track guide: fast facts
Track length: 3.66 miles (GP), 1.64 miles (National)
Corners: 18 (GP), 6 (National)
Highlight: The exit of Chapel onto the long, wide Hangar Straight, probably the best chance in the UK you’ll find to really stretch your car’s legs.
Price: From £219 (National), £319 (GP)