I write race reports for a Fantasy Formula 1 League and this is the latest from three great days at Silverstone. All the opinions stated are mine and lack much in the way of evidence to support them. Happy reading.

Silverstone

A new deal to run the British Grand Prix at Silverstone from 2020 to 2024 was signed on 9th July. This is great news but, in my opinion, the only sensible outcome. Last year, Silverstone attracted the largest crowd, had the best fan feedback of the season in an F1 survey and the last 10 laps of the race were stunning.

Silverstone agreed a deal with Bernie that included an escalator and, in my opinion, they were right to exercise the break clause. Since then, it has all been brinkmanship.

First, F1 must have a British GP. It forms the sport’s DNA along with Monaco, Spa, Monza and Suzuka.

Second, there is only one place in the UK to host a GP. None of the other tracks come close and Silverstone has always been a cathedral of speed. Just go to Copse, Maggots, Becketts, Stowe, Abbey or Brooklands. The drivers and the fans love it.

Thirdly, the logistics have been transformed. I go back to the seventies when it was a dump and you could only see about 200 metres from any viewing point. Now, the layout means you can see loads – from our seats at Woodcote A, we saw the cars for 30 seconds of their lap. Add in the screens, the radio, the bands, the After Party and you have a festival atmosphere.

Fourthly, it suits me and Mrs C. We drive 30 mins from MK to a parking place in Silverstone Village, then walk 15 minutes to Woodcote. It’s the same every day – we get to see everything we want to, then get home for a shower and see the days’ highlights and analysis, with a cold beer.

Woodcote
Woodcote A

Hamilton the Genius

I’m an avid F1 fan and like the British teams and drivers. I don’t have a strong allegiance to any particular driver. However, no one can fail to be impressed by how good Lewis is. He is now surpassing Senna, Schumacher, Prost, Stewart, etc.

Eddie Irvine equated competing against Michael to being beaten about the head with a cricket bat every day (excuse the pun, but more later). It’s probably worse for Lewis’ team mates now. Rosberg was able to beat him once and then had to retire. Bottas has started well this year, significantly upped his game, and is still getting a good hiding.  

Lewis is the extra 0.5%. It’s a bit theoretical but that equates to 0.42 seconds at Silverstone. Just think about the tens of millions teams spend for a single tenth.

Ah, I hear you say. What is going to keep him motivated? I believe that he has finished Seb’s career. Bottas is not a threat and the other 30 somethings can’t beat him. However, the youngsters don’t care about records and reputations. I’ll make a few predictions.

  • Leclerc is team leader of Ferrari, with its mojo back, next year following Seb’s retirement
  • Max continues to lead Red Bull, with another 50bhp behind him. He’ll have a new team mate too.
  • Renault gets it’s act together with a more potent engine and the Honey Badger on a mission. He’ll have a young upstart team mate.
  • McLaren continues to get its act together and benefits from the improvement in the power unit. Drivers already signed.
  • Kubica, Grosjean, Gio will not be racing in F1 so there will be a decent shake up of drivers, with gaps for the most impressive batch of rookies in years.

Practice

I did my customary walk round the track during FP1 to appreciate the cars. It starts quietly but there is always a period when they’re doing qualy runs. It’s great to see 1,000bhp plus 1,500kg of downforce through the fastest sections of Silverstone.

For the second time in two years, the teams faced a new surface. To start with it proved tricky in some places. It was also very windy so FP1 was a spinathon. Nearly everyone was off the road at some point. And despite this, FP1 and all subsequent sessions were faster than the equivalent in 2018.

FP2 was similar then FP3 saw some light rain. The session was effectively reduced to a 30 minute thrash around the track. Throughout free practice, Merc, Ferrari and Red Bull traded fastest times. Long runs belonged to the Silver Arrows, however.

Qualifying

Qualifying was close! Very close.

Ferrari and Merc unleashed their ‘party mode’ – something not quite there in the Honda yet. Bottas pipped Hamilton by 0.006 seconds, with Leclerc very close behind. Then the Red Bulls followed by off the pace Seb. Then the rest. Lando was right up there again, Albon impressive and George in a Williams.

We visited the Williams Heritage Centre a few weeks ago and it’s is fab. I could bore for Britain on the number of the cars there I had seen race. The site, too, is very impressive – much better than our local F1 team. I really hope they can follow McLaren and get back to the front soon. It wasn’t that long ago Bottas and Massa sprung a surprise and come down the Wellington Straight in the lead. That was a loud cheer.

FW07
FW07

Gasly bucked his ideas up for this race – let’s see how long it lasts. Stroll didn’t make it out of Q1 for the 98th time.

The Race

Well, Jack Aitken gave us a perfect appetiser in F2. He won the race with a great move into Brooklands. That should have interested some of the team bosses.

The 2019 British GP was one of the best races I have seen, and I’ve seen hundreds on TV and over 50 in the flesh. Right from the start, the Mercs were battling and had the decency to run side by side from the Wellington Straight all the way to Copse. Or in other words, the aforementioned 30 seconds we could see from our grandstand. Lando had a great start and overtook Ricci at Copse / Maggots / Beckets.

Crash, Hass, Wallop

I’d have loved to be in Haas with Gunther “Profanity” Steiner on lap one. Romain and Keven decided to hit each other on lap one at Chapel, doing about 180moh. It pretty much took them both out of the race.

The Mercs calmed down which seemed to be the trigger for the Whacky Races to start between the Red Bulls and the Ferraris. Throughout the race, they were fighting for the same piece of tarmac. Leclerc took confidence from the ‘Austria incident’ to find his elbows, get them out and make sure Max felt them. Excellent entertainment and some great driving.

That is until Seb “Schoolboy Error” Vettel missed his breaking point and took Max out. They make those cars tough because both should have been out. But no, they re-joined with a few bits hanging off. Seb picked up a 10 second penalty to no one’s great surprise.

The Dominator

But back to the race at the front. Lewis backed off to preserve his tyres because, as it transpired, he had figured out he could one stop. Bottas made his first stop for new Mediums and Lewis just carried on – “U can’t touch this……”

Some may say the safety car, caused by Giovinazzi. won the race for Lewis. Not in a million years. Lewis changed to the Hard tyres, supposedly the slowest, to go to the end. The drivers enjoyed these tyres because they could really lean on them. “Stop! Hammer time!”

Lewis managed to be faster than anyone on any type of tyre. Bottas was always going to have stop again so game over. If that wasn’t enough for the Finn, Lewis then secured fastest lap, on the final tour, with knackered 32 lap old tyres. He really is that good. And didn’t the crowd love it. He has now won six British Grand Prix – another record to add to an ever lengthening list.

The Cricket

Lewis wins and then we congregated at the Main Stage for the usual cover band, drivers, big band. Furnace and the Fundamentals returned this year and they are really good. Just what a beered up F1 crown enjoys. Then the drivers, then Soul II Soul for their hit.

However, the 30,000 were as interested in the Cricket World Cup Final. That was more people than at Lords and it was noisy! We saw the last hour on the big screens. Lewis arrived during the Super Overs and was a bit confused by the cheers, groans, etc and why no one was looking at the stage.

Silverstone After Party
The Cricket

But what a weekend. Fantastic three days, the best result, great cover band, a new contract and England only go and win the World Cup! If Carlsberg did weekends…………..