Today I went to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone – my first major motor racing event. If it wasn’t for my Formula One Mad husband, I’d probably have never gone in my life, but as with so many things, if you give it a try you find you get quite interested. Here I am:
We left at the crack of dawn to avoid traffic queues and get to our hugely expensive front row grandstand seats at Club Corner in time to see the first race of the day – the Porsches. It was really good to see road cars hurtling round the circuit, but not as exciting as the GP2 race. GP2 is the ‘second division’ of motor racing. A young British driver, Lewis Hamilton, is the one to watch. He has courage, determination, precision and is an enormously exciting driver. He performed a staggering overtaking manoeuvre, the like of which Moth had never seen before, and it had the crowds cheering madly. I am told that wild cheering for GP2 is uncommon. Lewis Hamilton came from eight place to win the race. Here he is celebrating his victory:
There was a real carnival atmosphere. Helicopters whirred overhead, flags fluttered and in the heat the predominently male crowd took their shirts off to burn their white flesh in the bright sunshine. People brought picnics, deckchairs and radios to hear the commentary over the roar of the cars which largely rendered the tannoy useless. I was surprised to see how many people stood up for the playing of the national anthem. Moth and I were some of the few that didn’t. I love my country, but I have no allegience to the crown.
The Red Arrows treated the 80,000 or more strong crowd to a beautiful display.
Then we had the main event: the Formula 1 race. Giant screens ensured that spectators could see all the action around the circuit, so we didn’t miss seeing the start.
Local Oxford resident, Fernando Alonso started in pole position with Michael Schumacher, who I loathe, second and Kimi Raikkonen, who we like, third. I had high hopes that Schumacher would crash and Kimi and Alonso would scrap it out for the win. But Alonso was sparkling and led for the whole race. Unfortunately Schumacher and Kimi swapped places after their pit stops.
There’s a full race report from the BBC here.
So what’s the appeal of it? Well, I didn’t realise just how exciting it could be to see noisy, shiny cars whizz past. These are machines at the cutting edge of automotive engineering being driven largely by loonies who are young, feel immortal and can’t get enough of that speed thrill. Travelling at such speeds so close together they take massive risks with their lives for the duration of the race and I think there lies the attraction. Will someone crash? Will someone spin? Will someone die? Yes, they might. The history of motor racing is littered with heroic corpses. Though thankfully no one died today.
When I watch the Grand Prixs on the telly they seem to go on for hours. Today, we sat trackside for one and half hours but the whole race scorched by in five minutes. How can this be? Oh yeah – it was fun and my back even seemed to stop aching.
All photos: Moth Clark