Silverstone. The home of the British Grand Prix, but also the home of Formula One. If Monaco symbolises the glitz and glamour of F1, Silverstone is the history of F1. Silverstone was born out of the perimeter road surrounding a World War II runway, and whilst the Royal Automobile Club brought motor racing back after years of wartime austerity in 1948, it was in 1950 when Silverstone was awarded the European Grand Prix title and became the first official race of what we know today as the Formula One World Championship.
The track for the British Grand Prix has changed numerous times - its been at Brands Hatch and Aintree too, but the vast majority of races have been held at Silverstone in Northamptonshire. I have been to the British Grand Prix five times - 1999, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010. No other circuit on the calendar appears to put on as good a show as Silverstone. It is a true three-day event with so much to do outside of what is going on on the racetrack. Bernie Ecclestone may have taken his anger out on Silverstone in recent years, but he should now use Silverstone as a platform to demonstrate how F1 should be run for the fans. I've never known an atmosphere as there is on the morning of a British Grand Prix... you know something special is going to happen.
Silverstone is always a sellout and over the three days at Silverstone, there will be in excess of 275,000 people watching the action. No other circuit can you guarantee a sellout - even in Germany they cannot attract those sorts of figures since the Schumacher heyday. So why is Britain so into their Formula 1? Well, you could say its because we have three British drivers - two of which are both in the same top flight team. But the British Grand Prix was popular even when we had years of no hopers in the sport. Eight of the twelve teams fully operate from England - McLaren, RedBull, Force India, Caterham, Marussia, Lotus, Mercedes and Williams. We have a racing pedigree across the country with race tracks and infrastructure where all drivers will have at some point raced in Britain on their way through the junior categories to reach F1. It is just the home of modern racing.
Last week, Santander held an event in London to propose a potential London Grand Prix. It would be magic... but it'll never happen. The money, upheaval and buy-in needed from residents and businesses is just too high on all levels to see it actually happen. Having said that, if any country deserves to have two races in one country it is England... I know I'm biased - this is my blog, it's my prerogative!
I was at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last weekend - such an amazingly run event each year which further demonstrates the interest, passion and commitment the British public have towards motorsport in this country. 180,000 visitors who can get up close and personal with vehicles from the past and the present. Whether it is the sight of Graham Hill's Lotus, Valentino Rossi's Ducati, or Lewis Hamilton's McLaren, they are all there. If you have never been, it s so worth it.
So once again in a year where it is proud to be British, and just 3 weeks ahead of the biggest sporting event on the planet the worlds sports attention will be on a tiny village in Northamptonshire. Oh and maybe somewhere called Wimbledon. I can guarantee though, F1 at Silverstone... you would be crazy to miss this one.
Before signing off on this blog, my thoughts go to Maria de Villota, Marussia's test driver who is recovering from an awful sounding incident. I sincerely hope you can get back to racing soon.
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