One spring does not a summer make; that’s the old adage and it might well apply to the excitement of the British Grand Prix. I don’t want to be seen as a harbinger of doom and gloom so I will just suggest that it was great stuff in front of a great crowd – and what more could Formula One wish for?
I have to say that I was worried, pre-Grand Prix. The support races had, in the main, been pretty dull and won by polemen. Uh-oh, was the same coming for the big race too? Thankfully not. What great stuff we had, with fabulous starts from Williams to lead the Grand Prix where they first won in 1979. Who better to have led than –surprisingly – Britain’s second favourite team? The fan survey published just before the British GP said Ferrari were the fans’ favourite team followed by McLaren and then Williams. That surprised me; McLaren have never been that much of a favourite team anywhere. Odd.
I digress. We had a great Grand Prix; good weather helps, of course, and when the traffic problems (yes, again) were sorted out for the weekend, things got a lot better. Of course, there was massive adulation for Lewis Hamilton, and he rewarded everyone on Sunday even before the race with great appearances around the track.
He continues to be an enigma, however. During the race meeting, he would change into motorcycle gear to be anonymous when he left the circuit on the back of a ‘bike. I guess he’d never get out if he didn’t, but he spends a lot of time avoiding the fans he allegedly adores. He rewards his fans on his terms, not on theirs which might be termed as controlling your life.
I seriously wondered if he was going to be successful on Sunday. Rosberg beat him in both sessions on Friday although Lewis was quickest on Saturday morning, Rosberg fastest in Q2 but then Hamilton bounced back on a changing track in Q3. And let’s face it, his race wasn’t perfect either, which allowed Valtteri Bottas to come back at him after the safety car.
The weekend had started with a strategy group meeting at Biggin Hill (Bernie’s FOM base) on the Wednesday. A number of non-too-specific proposals came out of that meeting, but it seems that they were driven along by FIA president Jean Todt. This is the sort of leadership that we’ve been looking for for some time and finally M le President seems to have delivered. I have never been privy to any of the meetings held over the years, but the one thing that they seemed to lack was 1) an agenda and 2) someone actually running the meeting. Bernie likes to keep it vague – part of his divide and conquer strategy – so to have had a meeting which actually had a purpose – and it had to if the group was to survive – was almost a novelty but one that was effectively exploited.
Interestingly, the subsequent press release was signed by the FIA’s Formula One press delegate, not Todt himself which was a bit of a surprise. Maybe le President just wasn’t available. But the wording would have been approved by him and lawyers too, so one must assume it had the blessing of all the right people.
As I say, proposals aren’t too defined but some could come into effect as early as the Belgian Grand Prix, including a limitation on driver aids. There are more changes for later in the season; there is clearly a desire to do something sooner rather than later (which would mean another meeting and discussion and probably result in nothing being done). Without entering into specifics, it does mean that following the desire has come the result, so we’re hopeful.
I was happy to hear of several Grand Prix experiences which were thoroughly enjoyed. My own wife was bought grandstand seats by our younger son who works for a Grand Prix team and she sat in the Club grandstand. She’s been to Australia and Abu Dhabi recently, and worked with the ICI sponsorship of Williams years ago so she knows the business, but loved being out at Club in the grandstand where everything happened. We had two other lots of friends who visited during the weekend and they both had a superb time, so well done to the new management of Silverstone for delivering.
I was playing a slightly greater part in the weekend than I have in the past, in that we finally had somewhere to commentate from overlooking the pits. (This is used advisedly; there is a broad counter at chest height which actually prevents you looking out of the window unless you climb onto it which is risky.) David Addison replaced Ian Titchmarsh as main commentator and proved more than talented as usual. Research is the main thing here and while watching the likes of Bugs Bunny with his young daughter, David has a very active and complete hard drive of a brain which stores loads of information which can be called on when necessary, so there was no lack of things to say.
I spent one session with him at the somewhat inconvenient location on the outside of the first corner which took about 20 minutes to get to via the BRDC enclosure and the rest in my eerie not overlooking the pits, but I hope I was able to fill in the occasional hole. With Ian Titchmarsh being wowed by the speed of cars at Becketts, I think we did a pretty good job.
This was interspersed by the odd visit to the medical centre to try and restore my vision, as something was producing a lot of little black dots and a curious shape a bit like a rain cloud on a weather map but in monochrome in my right eye. As ever, the medical centre was massively efficient but were better equipped to cater for a major trauma than an eye problem and I was basically advised to head for an optician or A&E.
Yesterday, I did just that: one optician, £65, one A&E, two eye clinics later and I’m pretty much the same as before. Maybe Jean Todt and the strategy group can fix me up…