Tuesday, 14 July 2015


2015 British Grand Prix

5th July 2015

I had an acquaintance (I shall not call him a friend) who once told me he “lost interest in Formula One once the drivers stopped dying”.  He was, of course, being deliberately provocative.  Nevertheless, I think the point he was attempting to make was that something has certainly been lost from F1 of late.  Quite what this indefinable something is, I, as a casual follower of the sport, am probably not best placed to say. 

My own impression is that the cars used to be run flat out, with the result many of them broke down and failed to finish.  I don’t know that that seems to happen much these days.  Also, back in the day I recall seeing footage of exhausted drivers almost having to be lifted from their cars at the chequered flag.  Now the drivers barely appear to break sweat, either physically or metaphorically. 

But my main gripe with the sport, and whether this is down to the fact either the cars or the drivers (or both) are just too good nowadays, is that too many Grands Prix appear to be little more than a race to the first corner, with a tedious procession thereafter.  The race before this one, the Austrian, being a prime case in point.

I feel F1 really needs to make up its mind whether it is a team or an individual sport.  If the former, then the winner should be the team who gets their second driver over the finishing line first.  Whilst if an individual sport, then only one driver per constructor should be allowed. 

Alternatively, for real fun, it could go down the route of my local stock cars track and have the slowest cars start on pole with the fastest at the rear.  Now that would lead to some interesting racing, and no small amount of overtaking.

Entrance to Silverstone

One certainly sees a different class of fast-food at F1...

...but I cannot imagine any other major sporting event where a
cigarette stall would be found.  Could you see one at Wimbledon?

Before the race the drivers were paraded on this low loader.

Pre-race entertainment provided by RAF Typhoon

The view from Becketts looking north towards Copse

The view from Becketts looking south towards Vale and Club Corner

The general opinion of the 2015 British Grand Prix afterwards was that it had been an excellent race; the Telegraph for example stating “this was a day to lift the sport out of the doom and gloom.”    But in reality, it was only because Lewis Hamilton had made two whopping blunders in the opening few minutes of the race, that there was any excitement at all. 

For not only did the pole-positioned Brit somehow allow Felipe Massa to overtake him from third on the grid within seconds of the start of the race, but moments later fluffed an attempt to take back the lead after the safety car had been out - an error which let Massa’s Williams teammate Vallteri Bottas the opportunity to move into second.  Thus it was, the first time I saw the cars racing in anger past my seat in the Becketts stand, Williams cars sat in positions 1 and 2 with the two Mercedes of Hamilton and BB in their wake. 

A reasonably intriguing tussle looked to be in prospect, but the Williams team’s inability to think on their collective feet killed it.  What should have happened, of course, is that Team Orders should have been fired out, and Massa instructed to step aside to allow his swifter team mate past.  Massa could then have made as a big a nuisance of himself to the Mercedes cars as possible, giving Bottas the opportunity to build up some sort of lead.

But, over the cars’ radio link we clearly heard “Don’t Race”, followed by more dithering, then “Race Now”.   All of which led to a dozen or so laps of Bottas scrubbing his tyres out unsuccessfully attempting to pass his teammate, whilst Hamilton sat grinning in his car biding his time. 

Hamilton performed his tyre change a lap earlier than he otherwise may have, and by the time the Williams cars had followed suit Hamilton led - and we were all presented with just the interminable procession I had dreaded.  Not that the folks in the stand around me seemed to mind.  They cheered and whooped each time Hamilton passed.  Indeed, I think most of them would have wet themselves with glee had Hamilton actually led from the start to finish.

The wet stuff put in an appearance for the last few laps, but even this proved no hindrance to the Mercedes cars, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel the only driver to make hay while the rain fell.

I may be wrong in this assertion, but I do not think Lewis Hamilton for all the so-called drama of the race actually overtook anyone (apart from those few stragglers whom he lapped) during the race.  Those two occasions when he moved ahead of the Williams cars both occurred whilst they were in the pits.  I know this is part of the tactical aspect of Formula One, but it did appear to be overtaking by default.

On the big screen - the moment Felipe Massa stole an march on both the Mercedes

Felipe Massa

Nico Rosberg

2015 British Grand Prix

2015 British Grand Prix

2015 British Grand Prix

Spray thrown up as the cars drive the short straight towards the Silverstone Six stand

This may have been Sebastian Vettel

2015 British Grand Prix

2015 British Grand Prix

Once the race was over gates were opened and us spectators allowed to wander along the race track – quite a few folks chosing to cycle the circuit.  I was slightly surprised to note the raceway was, well, just a road.  Quite why I thought it would be anything else I cannot say.  I was intrigued to see along the side of the track lots of little slivers of black stuff which I initially thought looked like a plague of little slugs.  They were, of course, pieces of tyre shredded from the cars as they took the corners.  I picked up one of the largest pieces as a souvenir, but then thought “this is just silly” and threw it away.

I had bought a rather pricey ticket in the Becketts stand, where I was delighted to note I had been allocated a seat in the front row.  Here one saw the cars take a number of turns, able to follow them for a whole ten seconds or so in fact.  The downside was that it was some way (a long way in fact) from the start and finishing line, and hence the winner’s podium.  And there was a rather flat feeling at the end of proceedings, with a very real impression that all the champagne fun was going on somewhere else – a party to which I was not invited.

Story of My Life, really.

The big screen was as close as I got to the podium

Plague of slugs

A walk along the track towards Stowe

I think this is the Luffield stand

Becketts, Silverstone

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