Drama at Silverstone


By Lee McKenzie

The British Grand Prix tends to be an emotional one. For me it is great fun, but tiring, with seven live programmes in three days. It’s also a chance to catch up with people you might not have seen since the race last year. Silverstone normally brings out the best motor racing talent.

For some reason the Second World War airfield – which has held 50 Grands Prix – encourages things to happen, whether it’s big stories, sob stories, tyre chaos or high speed crashes. It is the heart of motor sport and the location for drama.

Maybe from a national perspective you can feel the heightened pressure on the three Brits on the grid and also the eight teams who are based within 100 miles of Silverstone. The teams bring family in and those who work tirelessly in the factory are allowed out to enjoy some time at the circuit. More rides on this race weekend than most others.

The fans are also incredible here. On the drivers’ parade, in which I was lucky enough to participate on Sunday, even the toughest non-British drivers are impressed. Fernando Alonso, not exactly a fan of the British weather after Ferrari were caught short in qualifying, was laughing on Sunday, just enjoying the sights and sounds of the fans who weren’t supporting him – unlike many of the other races we go to.

You could hear the drivers talking to each other and saying how amazing the crowds were. Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Rӓikkӧnen enjoyed a laugh at the man who was dressed as The Stig in the grandstand coming out of Club corner.

Hamilton shell shocked

Saturday’s weather created drama as big teams got it wrong: Ferrari and Williams were out in Q1. But it was Lewis Hamilton‘s miscalculation and subsequent interview with me which made the headlines straight after. He was totally shell shocked and speechless. He looked like a man whose world was crumbling around him. Even the next day during the drivers’ parade, he was still pretty subdued.

What a different Lewis we got after the race. He apologised to me, which he certainly didn’t need to do (occupational hazard!) and also to his fans. Lewis’s world is an emotional roller coaster and he hides nothing. Whether you like it or not, it’s refreshing to see someone being themselves and showing how much passion and energy is going in to every single lap whether it be in free practice, qualifying or the race.

Nico Rosberg, who got his first DNF of the year, was the one who looked a little shell shocked as I interviewed him during the race. I wonder if he thought that Hamilton’s driving style was putting pressure on the car, especially in Canada when Hamilton was throwing everything into passing Rosberg. Nico realises that this championship will be won and lost on driving talent, mental strength and a whole lot of luck. Two he can control, but not the latter.

Kimi’s crash was a scary one. 47g was registered as he smashed into the armco on the Wellington straight. Felipe Massa’s evasive action was incredible while Max Chilton’s narrow escape was terrifying, but both were a huge relief. A fan’s photo showed just how close the wheel rim was to Max’s head.

I always enjoy interviewing Vettel and Alonso. They are intelligent, funny, but calculated guys. As the race heated up their underlying thoughts of each other were being played out on team radio for all to hear.

What was even more amusing was when I interviewed Fernando afterwards, who was at times sounding irate in the car, he couldn’t have been cooler, saying, “I knew it was inevitable he would get past me”. When I asked if Vettel had overstepped the limits he calmy said, “maybe at times”. Vettel too had a wry smile, saying, “I’m not sure who won the list keeping,” referring to all the complaints that both had about each other.

There is now just four points between Rosberg and Hamilton and anyone who thought this championship was all but over, think again. There are plenty more twists and turns to come and we are not even halfway through the season. Eleven races to go… well, 10 on track but don’t forget the double points in Abu Dhabi. I’ve a feeling we never will!

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