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Crofty Blog – Silverstone – A busy week for Silverstone & Liberty

The Sunday night after the British Grand Prix is always a quiet affair. Quite frankly it’s all I can do to keep my eyes open for any longer than a few seconds after I slump into the sofa, such has been the hectic nature of the past few days. I’m sure, if you were present at the home of the Formula 1 World Championship this year, your Sunday night was fairly similar.

IPS BGP fans on track - resize

It’s a Festival week, a chance to catch up with old friends, meet some new friends and enjoy the best drivers tackle one of the toughest challenges on one of the greatest tracks in the world. As ever I stayed on one of the campsites, although my Empire RV was pretty luxurious compared to the tens of thousands of tents that were pitched for the weekend. A little footnote about the RV, despite what my Sky colleague Simon Lazenby may have tweeted on Friday evening, there wasn’t a party at 3.30am and I’m glad to say that those on the Whittlebury Park Campsite with me didn’t decide to come along in the middle of the night. I’ll get him back next year on that :))

And we will be back at Silverstone next year, and the year after that, and with a bit of luck for many years to come. But its time, now that the news is out there and the break clause has been activated, for the relevant parties to sit down and have a sensible chat.

Does Formula 1 really want to lose Silverstone from the calendar? No, I don’t think it does. But can Liberty Media, in what is their first big test as commercial rights holders, make an exception for Silverstone and allow a reduction in a race hosting fee, without thinking very carefully of the consequences? No, and they won’t.

The drivers and teams love racing at Silverstone, the fans flock here year after year, but if you reduce the fee for the British Grand Prix, then you can bet your bottom dollar, or millions of dollars, that every other track would want to pay less as well. And given that Liberty have paid an awful lot of money to take their stake in the commercial right, giving away money isn’t going to be on the agenda for quite some time.

I’m not a financial expert, but Silverstone needs a helping hand, either from industry or from Government support. And Derek Warwick, the BRDC President, made a very pertinent point at the weekend when he said that, “The money it cost to stage the London Live event would have sorted Silverstone out.”

Did you go to the F1 Live event? I only ask because I didn’t and I’d love to know what the fans who were there thought of the occasion. Hopefully you had a fabulous night and got some great pictures of the drivers and the cars. The 19 drivers of course, everyone on the grid except Lewis Hamilton. Which was either a hanging offence or a serious lack of judgement depending on which newspaper you happen to read.

My view at the time was that it would have been better if he’d have gone, especially as every other driver was present. However, who are we to tell any driver that they should be there and that they’re letting everyone down if they don’t go? If Lewis wanted to relax in Mykonos, so be it, but by missing the event he would have guaranteed a negative reaction from some sections of the media and that could have had a greater impact on his build up to the race than spending a few hours in London on Wednesday evening.

As it transpired, Lewis did face a lot of questions about it, but stuck to his guns and explained his reasoning. Without trying to defend him, he does place a lot of importance on producing the best performance he can for those that pay their money to go along to the Grand Prix. Year after year he talks about the energy he gets from the fans that head to Silverstone and cheer him on. He told me during an interview for Silverstone at the start of June that there wouldn’t be any Sebastian Vettel fans at the GP and that they’d all be cheering for him. Sorry to say this Lewis, I did spot a few with Ferrari shirts on, so you’re wrong on that front 🙂 But it’s safe to say there were more sporting your cap than Seb’s!

Owen Wilson - Crofty - BGP

But it’s those in the grandstands that Lewis wants to put on a show for, hence the crowd surfing and his desire to get out to the pit wall and enjoy the aftermath of the race with as many as he can. The sight of Valtteri and Kimi waiting in the Press Conference room whilst Lewis carried on his celebrations with the crowd did cause a chuckle or two, but fair play, he’d just won his 5th British Grand Prix, he’d lead every lap and taken a quite brilliant pole the day before, why shouldn’t the man spend a bit of time enjoying the moment with those that support him?

In the end, Lewis put himself under pressure to deliver, but deliver he did. By Sunday evening, the London event was no longer the topic of conversation, replaced instead by one of those special British Grand Prix days.

Which, in the space of two laps, saw the Championship battle get a hell of a lot tighter. You had to feel for Seb, his tyre falling apart as he battled to get back to the pits, whilst, ironically, for the first time over the weekend the crowd actually cheered when they saw him. He knew how costly his puncture had suddenly become and we go to Budapest now with his lead at the top seriously under threat.

Bring on Part 2 of this brilliant season, and whatever it has in store for us. Starting in Hungary in a few days’ time, where hopefully Martin Brundle will be back in the Commentary Box with me. Paul Di Resta did a top job filling in for Martin with literally 20 minutes to go before ‘Lights Out’ on Sunday. Just as the grid walk was about to get underway, Martin was taken ill. Not just any old grid walk, but the 20th anniversary of his grid walks, complete with a trophy presentation from Ross Brawn at the end of it. Martin even missed out on the chance to say hello to the voice of Lightening McQueen, Owen Wilson.  He sends his best wishes by the way mate!

Get well soon Marty, you don’t want to miss what’s coming up next. I get the feeling that we’re in for a real treat between now and Abu Dhabi.

Crofty Blog - Hungary 2017

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