Hold the front page: sunshine at Silverstone! Yes, the weather saved its best for last this weekend and the ambient climbed to a balmy 17 degrees on race day. Hardly the 39 degrees that we saw in Valencia two weeks ago, but conditions were heaps better than the 12-degree drenching of the previous three days.
The teams and drivers were quick to praise the commitment of the fans after the race, but only one team – Williams F1 – actively sought to improve their enjoyment of race day. The team ran a competition on Twitter on Sunday morning in which it asked trackside spectators to tweet what they were doing to keep warm, using the hash tag #WilliamsWarmer.
The winner of the competition, which was decided by a panel of judges in the team’s marketing department, got two paddock passes for an hour and the chance to meet drivers Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna. The spoils were taken by a mother and daughter, whose smiles could be seen from nearby Northampton. Good on Williams!
With the men’s Wimbledon final taking place on the same day as the British Grand Prix, we got to find out where celebrities’ loyalties lay: tennis or racing? Unless your name’s Jude Law. The actor managed to attend qualifying at Silverstone on Saturday and then the tennis in London on Sunday!
Actors Rowan Atkinson and Simon Pegg came to Silverstone, as did celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, singer Leo Sayer and boyband JLS. With their one-day series against Australia blighted by bad weather, the England cricket team was out in force as well, with Alastair Cooke, Graeme Swann, James Anderson and Stuart Broad taking a look around the pits. All in all, it wasn’t a bad turnout; well done everyone!
When the chequered flag dropped after 52 laps of racing, the party continued at Silverstone with the post-race concert. Eddie Jordan’s band, Eddie and the Robbers, played in front of thousands of fans, and lots of drivers put in appearances as well. All three Britons on the grid – Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Paul di Resta – turned up to say hi, as did race winner Mark Webber and his team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Lots of fun was had, and spirits weren’t dampened when rain started to fall either.
Away from the racetrack, Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner opened up his house near Banbury for a team barbecue, and after their 1-3 result in the British Grand Prix, spirits were sure to overflow.
This being F1, however, none of the parties will last long. When team personnel wake up on Monday morning, their focus will be 100 percent on the next race at Hockenheim. This sport is relentless.
Fernando Alonso was in tip-top form after taking Ferrari’s first pole position since the Singapore Grand Prix in 2010. But he said his pole position wasn’t his best lap of the afternoon.
“It took a major effort to get into Q3,” he says. “On my final lap I was behind a Toro Rosso and I couldn’t see anything. Nothing at all! I radioed the team to tell them it was impossible, but they told me I had to carry on because I needed 0.3s to make it into Q3.
“I battled through the spray, until I came across a yellow flag in the final sector. I had to slow down just enough not to get a penalty while still making it through. It was very difficult.”
Fernando’s sector three time on that lap was six-thousandths of a second off his best, so he was allowed to keep the lap and progress into Q3. That’s what you call precision.
As well as being a brilliant racing driver, Fernando also showed his compassionate side this afternoon. When being interviewed in front of some Ferrari guests, he clocked a child in a wheelchair at the front of the crowd and walked over to say a few words and he then gave his cap to the child. Everyone watching was charmed and impressed in equal measure.
Fernando won the British Grand Prix last year and today’s pole position gives him a good opportunity to repeat that success. To beat the British-based teams in their own back yard would taste particularly sweet too.
“Eight of the 12 F1 teams are based in the UK,” says Fernando, “so it would be particularly good to win here. It’s like when a football team plays an important away match; victory is that much sweeter than winning at home.”
We wish him the best of luck, but he’ll be made to work hard for it. Mark Webber starts second and a seven-time world champion starts third for MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS. No prizes for guessing which driver Little Eric will be supporting (he met Michael Schumacher on Wednesday); it’s sure to be a thriller!
Silverstone wouldn’t be Silverstone without a bit of rain, would it? And the Great British Weather didn’t disappoint today, when 40mm of rain fell in the space of 12 hours. The water merely topped up the saturated soil in the circuit’s campsites, following the wettest June since records began.
Mud dominated the spectators’ thoughts, while the drivers had to worry about aquaplaning. For much of the day the conditions were too treacherous for F1 cars, as proven by Bruno Senna when he thumped into the barriers midway through the afternoon session. As a result, few laps were completed all day.
“I feel very sorry for the fans today,” said MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS driver Michael Schumacher. “I hope many of them come back tomorrow, when we’ll be forced to do more running, otherwise we won’t be prepared for qualifying.”
With so little running on the cards, the drivers turned their thoughts to food. Silverstone isn’t exactly the restaurant capital of the UK, but there are some culinary gems if you can find them. Several of the drivers headed into the nearby towns this evening to see what they could find and Sauber’s Sergio Perez was spotted in the Khushboo Indian restaurant in Brackley. The curry house is opposite the house of former Caterham F1 driver Karun Chandhok, and we believe Sergio tried one of the Karun Chandhok specials.
Paul di Resta and Felipe Massa headed to the Rice Bowl in Towcester (separate tables) and Mark Webber headed to The Stag at Mentmore, near his home in Aston Clinton. Was he tempted by a Mark Webber pizza?
While many others were dining, Fernando Alonso was running. He was spotted doing laps of Silverstone on Thursday night to prepare him for the gruelling schedule of three races in four weekends during July. Such is the dogged determination of the Ferrari star; it’s hardly surprising he’s a double world champion.
Fingers crossed for better weather tomorrow!