There is something special about the British Grand Prix. Something gritty, real and relevant. Perhaps it’s the location? Silverstone. It deserves all those ubiquitous descriptions: ‘cathedral’, ‘home of motorsport’, ‘real racers’ track’, etc. It is indeed all of those but so, so much more. The atmosphere pulses from every pit box - maybe a nod to momentous times gone by; everyone has their favourite Silverstone moment don’t they?
If you’re ‘experienced’ in years maybe it’s 1950 and the birth of F1. Back then the circuit boasted a rather unsophisticated couple of RAF runways connected by a perimeter road. I’m guessing for many though it would be one of the ‘Mansell-Mania’ years - I adore 1991 and THAT image of ‘our Nige’ giving Ayrton Senna a lift back to the pits. Silverstone has been the scene of some teeth grinding action and some glorious images etched deep in our minds. 2013? I yearn for a classic...
Pre-season, during the rev free, slightly dull grey winter months, I convinced myself that any one of five different drivers could be victorious come the final curtain this year. So far, Jenson (sadly) due to McLaren woes has fallen away from the winning laminate. However Sebastian, Fernando, Kimi and Lewis are still, to varying degrees, in the frame. I pen these thoughts pre-Canada so as you well know another ‘something-gate’ may emerge over that weekend, so please do bear that in mind as you scroll down.
It has so far been a season of intrigue and argument peppered with racing. I’m sure those ‘heart-in-mouth’ events are still to come but there have been plenty of testy talking points to argue about in the pub.
Australia bounced by highlighting the enigmatic Kimi Raikkonen, who put his cards on the table, mumbled something and left his adoring crowds wanting more (I admit that I’m a huge Finn fan by the way).
But arguably Malaysia’s ‘multi-21-gate’ ruffled more feathers. The usually affable Mark Webber was seething when Sebastian Vettel defied team orders to overtake for the win and multi-21 found its way in to the Oxford dictionary. OK maybe not, but even the German didn’t know what it meant apparently!
Well, until China that is, when he did a 180, stopped apologising and said that his teammate didn’t deserve the win anyway. TV gold, everything but actual fisticuffs. Alonso won the race in style and we’d had three different winners from three races, glorious.
Bahrain brought different headlines for different reasons, but as the paddock was contracted to race, race it did. The narrative of the event became a little tricky and tyre talk intensified. It was another victory for Vettel but Raikkonen remained consistent and tenacious, badgering the German for the top spot. There was also an excellent podium for Romain Grosjean and a top job from Paul di Resta in fourth.
As the paddock grew tired of the Red Bull spat, Barcelona launched another querulous debate: tyres. Delamination became the hot topic and Pirelli argued that they had made the strategy-changing tyre that had been asked for. Red Bull: not happy. Fernando Alonso had a sublime weekend and went on to please his home crowd with a full cup of points. Championship tight, roll on Monaco.
Before the second smallest country in the world even began its weekend extravaganza another contentious story erupted. Let’s stay consistent and call it ‘tyre-gate’.
Pirelli asked Mercedes to complete a 1000km tyre test with them after the Barcelona race. This story has now gathered pace, with both Red Bull and Ferrari protesting the fact that the test seemed secret and that the 2013 car was used, when article 22 of the sporting regulations says that neither the current nor the previous year’s car can be used during in-season testing. The situation is now under investigation by the FIA. However, Ferrari now has to answer questions about the test that they did with Pirelli too, but they did use the 2011 car… Undoubtedly, more to come on this as the year rolls on.
Meanwhile, on track, Sergio Perez was providing both entertainment and controversy with his antics. His swansong with Raikkonen provoked a classic quote from the Finn announcing that the Mexican should be “punched in the face” to teach him a lesson!
Nico Rosberg was having the time of his life topping every session including the one that really mattered. He won in his hometown, opposite the school that he used to attend and in front of his friends and family. That included his father Keke who had won the same race 30 years before. A carbon-fibre-littered-track kind of fairytale, surely?
So if you’re going to be a part of the next chapter and you’re coming to the hallowed ground for the British GP, do remember your ‘to bring’ list. Sun block and a sou’wester for the inevitable British summer, binoculars and ear-plugs (if you’ve never heard an F1 car before, think ACDC cranked up to max while standing right next to a jet engine), plus a radio for commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live or the BBC Sport app to watch the action unfold live with driver tracker.
Follow the exciting build-up of the 2013 British Grand Prix at:
Silverstone on Youtube | Silverstone on Twitter | Silverstone on Facebook