What a week. From the Le Mans 24 Hours to the British Grand Prix in a few short days. For many of us, this is the highlight of the racing season – even if controversy and politics have overshadowed the final GP to be held at Silverstone (for the time being…).
The Motor Sport office travelled to Le Mans en masse, heading down to La Sarthe on a road trip. Renault kindly lent us a Grand Scenic for the weekend, which had plenty of room for five of us to motor on down through France, to a soundtrack of Blur and the Rolling Stones!
One of my (many) nicknames among some of my racing mates is ‘amateur traveller’, but apart from panicking about losing my passport four times, then finding it exactly where I’d left it in the car, the journey went surprisingly smoothly.
Oh, apart from being stopped for speeding… It was on the run from Calais to Rouen – but I should mention I wasn’t driving. One of the team, who shall remain nameless, got a little carried away by the clear, straight roads and the Grand Scenic’s comfortable touring capabilities. The next thing we knew two motorcycle Gendarmes were waving us off the road. Goodbye 90 euros.
But it didn’t sully a great weekend. For some of the team, Le Mans was a new experience – and fortunately, they loved it! The scale of the great enduro always amazes newcomers and I enjoyed watching their reaction to witnessing the crowds, the action and the whole spectacle for the first time. For those of us who are Le Mans veterans, experiencing the race with first-timers adds a welcome fresh perspective on something that has become so familiar through the years.
Watching at night was of course the biggest thrill for the team and we were all struck by the speed of the Peugeots. They seemed visibly quicker than anything else, including the Audis, and none of us will forget the sight of the 908s darting through Tertre Rouge as if they were giant Scalextric cars. The change of direction and the ‘brrr’ of tyres on rumble strips, audible because of the lack of engine note, is just incredible.
After a couple of days camping with Airtrack, we returned to Calais on the Sunday to be back in the office for Monday morning, as deadlines approached for the next issue.
Now, as I write this in the Silverstone media centre, Le Mans already seems like a distant memory. So much has happened this week. Friday here was a strange day, with the action on track incidental to the commotion caused by FOTA’s breakaway announcement. For the third year running at Silverstone a non-racing story has taken the attention away from what we are actually all here for.
Motor Sport’s less-than-enthusiastic views on the FIA are well documented. We applaud FOTA’s unity in being able to come to such a tough decision, one that will have huge ramifications for the sport. Diluting the sport with two series cannot be good in the long run, but we believe this move is necessary if the governance of F1 is to change – which it desperately needs to.
We’re closing the next issue in a couple of days and it will be on sale from July 3. Make sure to check out our coverage of the FIA/FOTA conflict – I can guarantee we won’t hold back from telling it like it is.