I thought I'd write a recap on the race as I witnessed it live from Silverstone, but this is usually covered quickly after the race, and I haven’t had time to write anything today.
Instead I shall write a small article for people who have never been to a Grand Prix before, and try to put into words what I have just witnessed at my first LIVE GP.
I woke up on Sunday morning at 5 a.m. without an ounce of tiredness in my body. This will sound unusual to anyone who knows me. I am usually one to hit the sleep button, and lay in until around lunchtime until the smell of a bacon sandwich reaches my bedroom door...
...but today was different, why? Because I was about to attend my first Grand Prix.
The truck was loaded up ready to depart for the 75-mile journey which ‘tomtom’ said would take 1 hour, 30 minutes, but we gave it 2 hours, 30 minutes anticipating traffic problems with the 100,000 sell-out crowd.
A quick check; Tickets, Umbrella, Waterproofs, Snacks, and a Lewis Hamilton cap. All I needed for the perfect day, check.
Arriving at the track an hour earlier than planned (traffic wasn’t a problem), we decided to take a look around the track. This was my second visit to Silverstone. I visited in 1998 to watch my dad compete in a Formula 3 organised fun race. The track hadn’t changed, apart from the small puddles slowly filling up as the rain insisted on a feeble drizzle.
The first action begins at around 8 a.m. with Formula BMW, so we still had 30 minutes to waste. We decided to take a look around the endless stalls and promotional tents.
The first stop had to be Mercedes-Benz. I took a few shots of the McLaren MP4-22 driven by Lewis in his rookie season, then moved onto the Toyota tent, which had a lovely black number currently featuring in the new Batman movie.
We left the Toyota tent to be greeted by a large bouncy castle type building with ‘earthdreams’ scribbled all over it. This behemoth must have costs hundreds of thousands. When I first saw it, my first thought was this money could have been better spent on the car this season, but my opinion would change after Barrichello’s mesmerising third place.
Finally, 8 a.m. approached, and I took my seat at the Pit Straight A grandstand opposite the podium to watch the Formula BMW cars complete a fairly short race. I had no idea who was driving what, and what cars are challenging whom.
Immediately after this race finished, GP2 were preparing to start their Sunday race. The first five qualifying standings were as follows:
Pole: Bruno Senna - iSport International (1.26.912)
Second: Roman Grosjean - ART Grand Prix (1.27.024)
Third: Andreas Zuber - Piquet Sports (1.27.147)
Fourth: Lucas Di Grassi - Barwa Int. Campos Team (1.27.350)
Fifth: Giorgio Pantano - Racing Engineering (1.27.487)
Knowing a little more about GP2 than Formula BMW, I had a slight idea of who was who, and that Pantano is currently first in the driver standings with 50 points. This race gave me an idea of what Formula One cars were going to be like: the sound, the speed, something you cannot understand unless you have attended a practice session or a race.
After 24 laps of a waterlogged Silverstone circuit, Bruno Senna, from pole finished the race first, followed by Lucas Di Grassi and Giorgio Pantano.
The next race, yes another race before the action I had been waiting for all morning, was the Porsche Cup. Again, a race I know little about so I won’t dwell on any details. Most of the race was contested under a safety car to be finally end with a British 1-2. (sorry names unknown).
The time had almost come. It was 12:20, just 40 minutes before the start of the race, I decided to run for some food, having not left the grandstand since the start of Formula BMW, I hadn’t realised how busy it had become since 8 a.m.
In just four hours, the pedestrian zones had become so congested I could barely see the Honda ‘BouncyCastle’. If you want to know what a sea of silver would look like, go to a British Grand Prix when it's raining.
All I could see as I perched on the lower steps of the exit was McLaren umbrella after McLaren umbrella. A huge wave of proud emotions set in as I realised how many fans had come to support Lewis, Heikki and McLaren Mercedes.
I returned to my seat with 2 gigantic hot dogs dripping with onions and ‘tommy-K’, just as the opening race credits were playing on the big screens. (you know the ones with the coloured lines racing in a circle, just before the start of live coverage on ITV).
I took my seat, the rain still drizzling, but not enough to dampen my sprit or anyone else’s surrounding me. The cars left to complete the warm-up lap. The engines roared like something you’d never believe if I tried to explain. Kovalainen appeared at Woodcote, closely followed by Webber, water spray streaming into Raikkonen’s helmet as he appeared.
They lined up on the grid. 1-2-3-4-5 red lights.......(pause).........they went out, and in Murray Walker’s famous words, GO, GO, GO....in a matter of seconds, all 20 cars had disappeared into Copse and my gaze moved toward the three massive TV screens covering the action.
I'm sure you all know how it went from here on... (skips to lap 59)...
Lewis rounds the final bend at Woodcote, the crowd rises to their feet, airhorns, clapping, cheering, whistling all ring out as he punches the air and points over at the fans. I have never experienced such emotions of joy, achievement and admiration for a sportsman, and I get the feeling I’m not the only one.
Finally Lewis jumps onto the podium with glee and happiness to accept the first place Santander British Grand Prix statue, as the British national anthem fills the air!
I urge everyone to visit at least one grand prix, and if possible your home or your driver's home race, as it's even more special.