Forget the British Racing Drivers’ Club, Lewis Hamilton is the true owner of Silverstone. The Englishman won his fifth British Grand Prix at a canter last weekend, demonstrating the type of imperious form that the home fans have gotten used to over the past four years.
The triple champ’s snub of the very first F1 Live London event in the build up to the weekend was quickly forgotten. There were no boos for the Brit at Silverstone, as peak ‘Hamilton-fever’ returned.
In fact, having been fortunate enough to spend the entire weekend trackside, I’d be willing to say that peak ‘F1-fever’ has also replaced the pessimism that has previous riddled the sport.
Here are my trackside observations from a thrilling weekend of action at Silverstone.
Following Tuesday’s Silverstone break clause bombshell that threatened to dampen this year’s British Grand Prix, F1 needed a tonic. What a difference a day makes, with Wednesday’s F1 Live in London event delivering a pre-race pick-me-up in some style.
Accessibility on an unprecedented scale, incredible noise and drivers allowed to express their personalities and share an incredible experience with those who consider them superheroes. What’s not to love?
Liberty Media’s mission statement upon arriving on the F1 scene was to create a more immersive sport. Chase Carey – leader of the ‘three wise men’ – referenced his desire to create ’21 Superbowls’ with races becoming week long spectacles which enhance fan engagement and add value for money to the ticket.
This weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone seems to be the first instance of Liberty flexing their creative muscles. This will be a British GP acting as a statement of intent.
The British Grand Prix at Silverstone is Formula 1’s oldest tradition. The venue held the first ever championship event back in 1950 and in 2017, Silverstone remains at the heart of the sport.
Despite its popularity, however, the event is seemingly in a precarious position. Reports suggest that the circuit’s owners are on the brink of activating a break clause which will see Silverstone’s contract terminated after 2019, as the financial implications of a contract penned in the sport’s previous governance have made the event unsustainable.
The question is whether a new deal can be concocted that will please all parties.
Just what the doctor ordered. As negativity has permeated the sport in recent weeks and months, 2015 needed a blockbuster race to reinvigorate fans and quell the vociferous critics. On a day when 140,000 passionate supporters came out to back the sport they love, that very sport provided an incredible spectacle filled with unpredictability. Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas launched themselves past a struggling Mercedes duo, to lead from the start. However, as the reigning champions began to flex their muscles, rain added another element of jeopardy and prompted Lewis Hamilton to make a bold, but ultimately race winning strategic call.
With Mercedes dominance predicted on a circuit which should favour the characteristics of the W06, the man most likely to spoil Lewis Hamilton’s home-coming is his teammate Nico Rosberg. This race marks the latest chapter in their duel and on the basis of today, Nico has the upper-hand. Albeit a challenging day for Rosberg, including a truncated FP1 due to a hydraulic leak, the German appears far more comfortable in the car than Hamilton, who struggled to just fourth on the timesheet in FP2, while posting long run times well down on his championship rival. By his own admission, Lewis needs “a lot more pace,” if he is to give the home crowd something to cheer about.
The British Grand Prix weekend is my favorite race weekend of the season – but then again, I am biased. Nonetheless, Silverstone is a magical venue, featuring some of the world’s most remarkable corners and having played host to many classic Grand Prix’s of yesteryear. When a British driver heads into the weekend with a chance of victory, as Lewis Hamilton does this weekend, the atmosphere reaches fever pitch, with the potential to spill into euphoria should he repeat the feat of 12 months ago and take the 25 points away from his home race. However, with Nico Rosberg entering the weekend on the back of three wins from the previous four races, including success last time out in Austria, Hamilton will surely face a stern test.