The British Grand Prix at Silverstone is now history. It is another experience I can cross off of my "bucket list". What are the lasting memories?
The first thing that struck me was the sheer size of the Silverstone complex. It is a 3.3 mile road-course that is actually located in two counties in central England. As with most of the classic European racing circuits it is located in a rural area so access/egress is not great. (Much better than Kentucky Speedway however!!!)
As a long-time fan of F1 I was really stoked about actually seeing the famed corners I had read about for years such as Copse, Vail, Club, and Becketts, as well as the Hanger Straight. Speeds are very high everywhere at this circuit with cornering forces in the 4-5 G range!
The newest addition to Silverstone is its new pit/paddock facility, the Silverstone Wing. This 20+ million dollar facility brings Silverstone's facility up to modern standards and insures F1 will stay at Silverstone for years to come.
True racing fans enjoy the sight, smell and sound of racing as much as the competition. The sound of a 2.4 liter V-8 that cranks out 750+ HP and turning 18,000 RPM is unique. Banshees are jealous of the scream emanating from the exhaust of the modern F1 car! The effective operating range of these marvels of technology is 15,000 to 18,000 RPM!
Throw in the colorful livery on the cars, the flags from throughout the world indicating the driver's home country, and the beautiful "pit-girls" with their starting position boards, and the sights are equally impressive as the sound!
This year's race was one for the ages. The favored Red Bull team qualified first and second and jumped to a lead with the Ferrari of Fernando Alonzo shadowing them. In the end, a pit mistake allowed Alonzo to take the lead which he held and took the win. There were fantastic battles for position throughout the field and details of the race are elsewhere on this site. I encourage you to check out the details.
The loyal British fans were trying to use sheer will to move the two British McLaren drivers to the front but it wasn't to be. Lewis Hamilton gave local fans a great show to finish 4th and received huge applause as he exited his McLaren.
F1 will be coming to America again next year in July in Austin, Texas. The new track will be a work of art and a big challenge to the finest road race drivers in the world. I plan to be there!
Monday 1:23 AM EST:
During the second world war Silverstone was an RAF base. In 1948 some sports car enthusiasts decided the long runways and open spaces made the perfect venue to race their cars. Silverstone was the site of the first modern era Formula 1 race in 1950. It has since gone through many changes, through good times and bad.
The circuit is now owned by the British Racing Drivers Club and has entered an era of prosperity it hasn't experienced in decades. The newly completed pit and paddock complex is second to no facility in the world! This commitment scored the BRDC a long term contract to hold the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
The 2011 British Grand Prix lived up to all the pre-race hype and more! The British weather threw the teams a curve by dumping rain on the final qualifying session and caused the teams that didn't go out early to start further back in the pack. This included Briton's favorite son, Lewis Hamilton, who started tenth on the grid.
About an hour prior to race time on Sunday the British skies opened again so the race began with all teams on intermediate rain tires. The track was quickly drying however so the question was which team would go for slicks first.
Pitstops proved crucial as the usual perfection of the Red Bull team was absent on Vettel's tire stop allowing the Ferrari of Fernando Alonzo to assume the lead. The McLaren team was next to botch a tire stop as Jensen Button left his pit stall without a right front wheel nut. He parked at pitout and his day was done.
Hamilton drove the race of his life to get to the front but the Red Bull duo and the flying Ferrari of Alonzo came out on top. Hamilton and Massa had a wheel banging finish out of Club turn with Hamilton taking fourth over Massa.
The finish was exciting and it is always good to see Ferrari red atop the podium!
HD video and details here: http://www.formula1.com/
Sunday 2:02PM EST:
Live from Silverstone: Rain just prior to the start forced all teams to start on intermediate tires. Vettel grabbed the lead at the start and stretched a comfortable lead. A slow tire change on his stop handed the lead to Alonzo and the Ferrari driver turned in a faultless performance for the win. Vettel barely held off his teammate, Webber for second. Hamilton and Mazza banged into each other and had a photo-finish for fourth with Hamilton edging out the Ferrari. HD video and details here: http://www.formula1.com/