6.45pm Whittlebury Park, Northamptonshire, less than a mile from Silverstone.
So that’s that for another year, the British Grand Prix is over and Lewis Hamilton is heading off to party wherever he chooses to party tonight.
Nico Rosberg has been handed a 10 second penalty and leads the Championship by just a single point now, and Max Verstappen is waiting to swop trophies with the Mercedes driver, should the Brackley team fail in their appeal.
The fans, all 139,000 of you, are still making your way home, the traffic is moving and trust me, I’ve seen way worse queues at races around the world.
As for me, some 12 hours or so after I got up this morning, it’s time to put my feet up and relax after what has been, as always, an enjoyable, but exhausting few days.
My race day started at 7am, up and out of bed, speaker switched on and some choice rock tunes burst through the silence. I stay at Whittlebury Park over the course of the Grand Prix, right next to the track and perfect for a short ride in to the circuit on my scooter. Now I don’t normally give anybody a lift but I did stumble across Ted Kravitz this morning, looking a little lost and lonely. Hence the sight of two middle aged men riding into the track, looking a tad uncomfortable as there really wasn’t much room on the bike at all!
By 8.45am we were both in the TV Compound and ready for the morning production meeting, a chance to discuss what issues we were all going to be talking about on race day and run through the features and interviews. Craig Slater and the Sky Sports News HQ cameras even chose to gatecrash the chat to find out what we got up to, but basically it’s a meeting where the production and presentation team join together to make sure we all know what we’re doing and where we’re all meant to be once we go live.
Once the meeting is over, I head off to the Paddock and spend the next couple of hours chatting to various teams about their weekend and what’s likely to happen during the course of the race. As it’s Silverstone, the weather is the first topic of conversation. Tyres, pit stop strategy, what the drivers have been up to over the weekend? What the team bosses had for dinner the night before? It all gets talked about, and plenty more besides. Some of which is useful for the race commentary, some of which is just gossip, but hey, who doesn’t love a good gossip with your mates on a Sunday morning.
We’re also really lucky that Pat Symonds – Williams Technical Director, takes some time out from his busy morning to meet with the British broadcasting teams to host a strategy meeting and give us a guide as to what are likely to be the main talking points in the race. Not so we can tell you what’s going to happen before it does, but more to help us understand the race a little better so that when things do happen, we can help the audience understand why they do.
After that it’s a few more quick catch ups and it’s off to the Commentary Box. We’re live on air at 11.30am at Silverstone and I like to be in the box for the whole of the show, otherwise you never know what you might miss.
Whilst Simon, Johnny, Damon and Martin talk down in the pit lane, or in Johnny’s case, chase after Lewis Hamilton out on track, I’m finishing off my race notes and having a think about what I’m going to say when the pit lane opens and Ted hands up to me half an hour before the race. Today was slightly fraught as at the moment I was coming to the end of what I had to say, my director was busy telling me not to hand to Ant at the Sky Pad and just fill for a bit. These things happen from time to time, the Sky Pad can be a little temperamental, but try talking to yourself for a minute or so without preparing for it and without knowing how long you’re going to be talking for in total. It’s not as easy as it sounds.
In between that and when Simon hands over to the commentary, I memorise the grid, always leaving it to the last moment and to be honest, I’ve no idea why, other than it gives me a chance for a few quiet minutes just before Martin Brundle bursts through the door following his grid walk. As for today, he burst in looking absolutely soaked. The pre-race rain, that nobody was expecting by the way, had unsurprisingly, rather caught him out.
At 12.55 it’s over to Martin and I and for the next two hours, who knows what’s going to happen. It’s lights out, away we go, and for the two of us, without doubt, a chance to do what we both consider to be, the best job in the world. Today Lewis Hamilton was mighty and became the 1st man to win a British Grand Prix at Silverstone three times in succession; did the win ever really look in doubt for him? Not really.
Once the Chandon has been sprayed on the podium there’s a chance to rest for a few minutes before getting stuck into your tweets with #AskCrofty. Always good to see what you all thought of the race, or what’s getting you angry or even making you happy, and on occasion, a really good way for us to put the fans perspective over to those in the sport.
We’re off air, by 4.30pm, but I’m not done for the day just yet. It’s back to the Paddock to hear a few hard luck stories from some teams, and some positive outcomes from others. Oh, and I did have a cheeky glass of Champagne at Force India, 6th and 7th for them was good reason to be celebrating.
And by half past six, I was back on the scooter and heading for my room. Feet up, writing this blog, with a smile on my face.
It’s just a snapshot of my Race Day, often at this time, we’re heading for an airport, or if we’re really lucky, planning a night out. But this week, I’ve got a week off, before, like Silverstone itself the planning begins again. For the guys at the circuit, it’s time to look ahead to the 2017 British Grand Prix, tickets are on sale already. For me, it’s the next race, Hungary, and believe it or not, the halfway point of the season. It feels like we’re only just getting going as well.