Still busy, despite a break from racing
I got to drive the new Aston Martin Vantage GT8 up the hill at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. It’s based on the GTE race car and is probably my favourite Vantage so far. I’ve been trying very hard to get my hands on one but they’ve sold out! I also drove the Aston Martin Vulcan, which first appeared at Goodwood last year. At that point the car was only a few days old, so it was great to go back there with it fully sorted. The Saturday ball was another great night out. If you think Lord March knows how to host a car festival, you should see one of his parties!
If you’ve never been to the Festival of Speed you should put it on your bucket list. Everyone can get up-close-and-personal with the cars and bikes in a way that just isn’t possible at most events. I had a good wander around on the Saturday afternoon and I got to see things that interest me, such as NASCAR and Dakar cars. You can also check out your competition if they have cars there – obviously I had a good look and took plenty of photos.
Although I’ve had no races since Le Mans, as I write it’s all about to burst back into life as I’m off to the Red Bull Ring in Austria for the European Le Mans Series, a circuit I haven’t been to since I raced in DTM. After that we head off to the Nürburgring for the next World Endurance Championship round. I’m switching cars for the rest of the season and will be back in the No 97 Aston Martin alongside Richie Stanaway. It’s more efficient to run just two drivers in the WEC – we get more seat time, which can only ever be a good thing, and you don’t have to dial three drivers into a circuit.
Aston Martin is leading the championship for manufacturers so there is everything to play for in the second half of the season. As soon as the Nürburgring is done I will be off to Spa for the 24 Hours, which I’m doing in the Motorbase GT3 Aston Martin. I raced with these guys last year in the Abu Dhabi 12 Hours so I’m delighted they’ve asked me back. It’s going to be a race of attrition but I really think we have the chance of a Pro-Am podium if we can stay out of trouble.
I’m writing this column after a fantastic weekend at the British Grand Prix. It’s a privilege to be a BRDC Member all year round, but it is really special over the F1 weekend at Silverstone. We have the Clubhouse, two grandstands and the Farm to enjoy and it’s a great social occasion as you can catch up with other Members you haven’t seen for a year.
As always it was good to see the performance of the Grand Prix cars up close as I only see them on TV for the rest of the year. What a difference the last few races have made to the championship! You wouldn’t have bet against Rosberg a few races ago, but now Hamilton is riding high again and the battle for the championship is going to be exciting for everyone to watch. I thought Austria came down to a magical last couple of laps, when Lewis was hunting Nico down, and it was inevitable there would be contact of some sort as neither one will give an inch. On that occasion it was Nico who screwed up for whatever reason, but when drivers make a decision it is the work of an instant and you can’t go back and hit the delete key. You could see what Nico was trying to do by running Lewis wide but it didn’t work out. What it did do was make for an even more exciting British Grand Prix as we got to see a hungry Lewis Hamilton at his very best.
I was surprised that the race started under the safety car. There was a huge downpour before 1pm and there was a lot of standing water, but it would have been good to see them all take the start. It would have been difficult but that is what they are paid to do. When the race went green everyone pitted and swapped to inters, which showed that the safety car was out there for too long.
I should also mention that I managed to cram in a quick trip to Hyde Park to see Take That on the night before the Grand Prix. Before becoming a dad I was crap at dancing, but now I’m a dad I can call it ‘dad dancing’ – so I can get away with it. I think.