So what a day it was. A glorious Silverstone day really complete with sunshine and showers. Let’s face it, a day watching F1 cars at the home of the World Championship is never complete without the full cycle of British weather!
But a week last Friday, it was just fantastic to be part of Williams’ 40th Anniversary celebrations and how wonderful it was too, to see so many people turn out to join in the celebrations. If you were there, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, if you weren’t, I’m sorry you couldn’t make it, but let me just say that the sight of the FW14B, back on a racetrack, where it belongs, not only made the hairs stand on the back of my neck, but brought a little tear to the eye as well.
The great and good of Williams past and present came along, chatted and shared stories from the past, mingled with the fans and every single one of them loved every single minute. And why shouldn’t they? This was a day where the love for one of the great teams of F1 history, was totally in evidence. Where it was right to celebrate the past and Williams’ key part in the sport over the last four decades.
Sir Frank and Sir Patrick, rightly received a standing ovation as they made their way to the grid for a historic photo call, surrounded by some of the drivers they helped and who helped them.
A perfect antidote to some of the negativity that has surrounded our sport in recent times.
That said, there’s a feeling that that negativity is slowly fading. From Silverstone we headed to Canada and Montreal, a city that doesn’t so much host F1, but embraces it. If you’re in the mood for a party, then this place always delivers and boy did it deliver once again this year.
The famous Montreal raft race was revived. Won by a McLaren team who benefited from an Olympic Silver Medalist in their ranks, and some would argue, by not running a Honda engine for once! Fun was had by all, thousands of fans were invited to come along and watch, once again, the sport decided not to have its own private party behind closed doors but to share the moment with those that count.
Earlier Lewis Hamilton had matched Ayrton Senna’s pole position tally and was interviewed in front of the grandstands. The emotion of the moment clearly evident as he was presented with a replica Senna helmet but also given the chance to celebrate his achievement with a few friends, 12,000 of them to be precise. How brilliant it is to see and hear from the drivers straight after the session in the open, with the people, not in a sterile room where corporate soundbites punctuate the conversation, but where real emotion is very much in evidence.
Incidentally, if Lewis takes pole in the next two races, he has the chance to match Michael Schumacher’s record for pole positions at the British Grand Prix. What an atmosphere that could be and I’m not sure if he does it, his answers will be heard over the din of air horns and cheers from the Silverstone faithful.
Come race day, we marveled at Max Verstappen’s start, how did he do that? Who cares, it was, like Hamilton’s pole lap, a thing of beauty to admire. From exhilaration to a lack of acceleration, Verstappen’s race would end on lap 11, the injustice of a total lack of reward for his efforts laid bare before our very eyes. But that’s sport and whilst he may claim it’s been a crap season for him so far, there have still been a fair few highlights, with more to come I’m sure.
We held our breath as Seb sliced his way through the field and, at the very same corner that he was passed by Max, he pulled off an audacious, bold and ultimately brilliant move to get past Ocon. Here was a man that with a Championship lead to protect, was still busting a gut for every point. Like he said, he thought there was a trophy to be had still, so why should he hold back.
The two Force India cars had once again produced a solid race. Could they have got a podium had Ocon been allowed to move past his team mate? Who knows? Ricciardo was driving within himself and Perez was waiting for a mistake that never came. But having heard from the team as to why the order for them to switch was never given, they give a fair argument that they did the right thing by just letting their drivers race.
And the race leader, so relaxed was he out in front, even had time to give a thumbs up to Montreal’s homeboy Lance Stroll as he lapped him. A moment of appreciation for Stroll’s efforts in the race and to say well done, which was a nice touch and one that Lance deserved.
Whatever your opinion of his talents, he kept his nose clean, raced well, although a little tentatively in the early stages, and produced his first points finish in the sport. Nine days after joining in the celebrations of his team’s 40 years in the sport, he became the latest Williams driver to register his name in the list of points finishers. Incidentally, the first Canadian not called Villeneuve to do so as well.
A nice piece of symmetry to round off a thoroughly enjoyable few days. The historical celebrations that included the sport’s desire now to engage more with the people that matter, to a brilliant race where the new generation, and I’m thinking of Verstappen, Ocon and Stroll, all played their part too.
Roll on Baku, have we really got to wait a fortnight for the next chapter?