Regular long term readers of this blog may recall that my marvellous spouse and offspring bought me a weekend pass to the British Grand Prix back in October as my 50th birthday present. Now people who read this blog will know I like motor racing, F1 in particular, back in the 80s when there were GPs at Brands Hatch, our local track, we'd regularly get up at 5am to be camped on South Bank by 7am and then sit in the car park as the sun set waiting for the nonsense of the 50 undisciplined lines of cars forcing themselves through one gate to exit. I went to practice at Silverstone in 92 (I think) when Damon Hill forced an ugly handling Brabham onto the back of the grid. The last GP I went to was the legendary European GP at Donnington in 1993 where it rained and rained and I witnessed Ayrton Senna's incredible drive to victory, that day he was unbelievable able to drive around as though there wasn't the 2 inches of water that there really was. So 20 years since a physical GP visit. I was really excited by it.
My son and I set off Friday, we arrived at the circuit as the "pretty pointless" first free practice came to an inconclusive end, it was raining and had been heavily therefore only a few cars ran some laps at the end and all mostly just to check all systems were working ok. One negative point sadly is that the back of the circuit, Hanger Straight in particular was a mud bath - Silverstone, fix that, more of the thick gravel as at Vale please. We wandered about getting bearings on the circuit - last time I went there was to watch F3000 and Peugeot 905's in the 90s and it has changed a lot since then.
Saturday we watched mostly at Copse and Beckett's. We were right there when the first tyre blow in practice on Sergio Perez's car - we watched the Pirelli and FIA officials looking at the Copse curbs for about 20 mins after that... more anon... We then watched Sam Bird drive to the first British victory in the GP2 feature race, great race! Then Jack Harvey capped a 100% first race day for GB by winning a badly interrupted GP3 race - best thing was to see the two drivers involved in a very frightening crash walk to the ambulance unaided - seeing cars, upside down on top of each others is not nice! With Hamilton on pole for the GP it was a Brit clean sweep for that day!
Sunday - up at 5am in the hotel at Aylesbury, easy drive in as the other days had been. We claimed a spot on the bank at Vale near Stowe corner so could see the end of Hanger Straight the corner, Vale complex and entry to the pits. There was a lot of action in the morning with three races, GP3, GP2 sprint race and Porsche supercup. Another Brit winner in Jon Lancaster gave a clean sweep in that category for the home drivers.
The Red Arrows entertained as only they can at lunch and then... the race...
If you know anything about F1 one of the most exciting and controversial in many years. Lewis Hamilton shot off into the lead and looked set, as long as his tyres lasted for a home win but then suddenly there were gasps as we saw on the big screen his tyre like Perez's on Friday had exploded. He limped to the pits for a replacement but was at the back of the grid. But more people had tyre issues, Verne won the save of the season as we heard his explode on the straight and held our breath as he managed some how to keep it out the wall or the gravel. A safety car to clean up helped Lewis now fighting up the lower order. Then Vettel who'd inherited the lead came around right in front of us and ... that didn't sound right, no indeed his gearbox had failed, another safety car to salvage his car as he'd not dived into the pits just as it happened and was parked on the start straight. Again they all bunch up, now Lewis was near getting some points.
The last few laps after that safety car were amazing, Hamilton, Alonso and Webber carved through cars in front who's tyres were worn out. Hamilton didn't win but 4th from dead last in a dry race has to be one of the best come backs ever!
We watched the podium and wondered back to the car, I'd expected to wait an hour or two for the crush to clear but the traffic was moving freely so we drove straight out and the one way system on the A43 whilst distinctly odd (driving the wrong way on a dual carriageway!) worked really well even after a stop for a meal we were home well before we used to get out of the Brands Hatch car parks!
I had a fantastic time!!! :-)