A lot of the suppliers work out of here, and many teams are based nearby. Even PUMA’s partner team Ferrari had a lot of parts made here when John Barnard ran the technical side. The circuit is known as the ‘Home of British Motor Racing’, but I prefer to call it the Epicentre of Formula 1, particularly as Silverstone 62 years ago hosted the first-ever World Championship Grand Prix, and thus has the longest F1 heritage of all.
I have very fond memories of Silverstone as my former team Jordan Grand Prix was based just across the road. It currently races as Force India, so that gives the locals an even closer connection, and I invariably bump into old friends and former employees when I am here. I get a real feeling of being at home.
One of the joys of the British Grand Prix is the after-race party where I have played for about 20 years. I have my own band called The Robbers, and play drums. It is a real kick to get on stage and play for the fans, and enables me to combine my two passions in one weekend. If you’re at the race be sure to get down to the party and join in; it will be a lot of fun.
Recently the place was unable to hold a candle to the likes of Bahrain and Shanghai, but the powers-that-be at Silverstone took all Bernie Ecclestone’s criticisms on board, and have spent an enormous amount of money on a stunning new pit/paddock complex plus further modifications to the layout. I personally believe Silverstone now counts amongst the best circuits in the world.
I’m told the place is an absolute sell-out this weekend, and obviously the folk would love to see a British winner. Could it happen? Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button have competitive cars from McLaren, and a guy like Paul di Resta could impress, but I think the Red Bulls are just too strong, even with the technical changes which are supposed to jeopardise them.
Mark Webber won here last year for Red Bull, and of course he is almost an honorary Englishman, having moved here from Australia many years ago and now living close to the circuit. But he is going to have to go some if he hopes to beat team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who has been simply astounding this year. Six wins from eights starts plus second in the two races he did not win is virtually another record for the young reigning champion.
However, I believe Ferrari will lose the least performance through the banning of exhaust blown diffusers, particularly as the Italian team had not really got their system working efficiently. That was slightly surprising as they are normally at the cutting edge. However, their performance in the last two or three races has improved massively, but we don’t know yet whether it is enough to close the gap.
One thing is for sure, though: the race will be incredible. DRS, KERS and degrading tyres will lead to so much overtaking that the fans’ heads will be fried by all the action. We could even have one of the best races of the year.
That comes from somebody who knows Silverstone intimately, having raced here, run my teams out of here and built my own cars across the road. And they say the sun will shine on race day!