A date with GP history

It seems appropriate that the giant new Silverstone "Wing" pit lane and hospitality complex may in the future be offered for weddings. Steve Slater writes.

india Updated: Jul 08, 2011 23:44 IST
Steve slater
Steve slater

It seems appropriate that the giant new Silverstone "Wing" pit lane and hospitality complex may in the future be offered for weddings. After all, the British Racing Drivers Club has invested 27 million pounds in the new facility and the track needs year-around income to pay back the banks.

It is also appropriate, because Silverstone more than any other track, follows the words of the old wedding rhyme of "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue".

"Something old" is easily achieved at Silverstone. In May 1950, the track hosted the first-ever world championship Grand Prix race.

It was won by champion-elect Giuseppe Farina on (not 'in' in those pre seatbelt days) an Alfa Romeo. A year later, sixty years ago, Ferrari took its first World Championship win at Silverstone when Froilan Gonzalez defeated the hitherto unbeaten Alfa Romeo team.

When it comes to "something new", Silverstone's stunning new pitlane building has literally turned the track on its head. For over 60 years the start line had been on the northernmost side of the circuit just before Copse Corner. This year, the new start line and pit complex is on the opposite side of the track, just ahead of the high-speed corner at Abbey and the sweeping Farm Curve before a hairpin bend at The Arena.

“Its going to be awesome" said Jenson Button, literally fizzing with enthusiasm. "You will be flat-out of the start line, flat-out through turn one, flat-out through turn two, then you'll be watching in your mirrors to see which nutcase is coming down your inside."

Despite over a decade of trying, Button has yet to win his home Grand Prix. The McLaren driver's best result at the track came when he was driving for the now defunct Honda team in 2008. After starting a lowly 16th, he battled to his way to 3rd place.

Friday's free practice session neatly brings us to "something borrowed", as up-and-coming drivers 'borrow' seats from established drivers to prove their worth. Karun Chandhok tested for Team Lotus, ensuring that at least one Indian driver will be on track this weekend.

The graduation of Toro Rosso's 'Friday driver' Daniel Ricciardo (funded by Red Bull) to replace Narain Karthikeyan at Hispania Racing may have more to it than meets the eye. Many believe that Ricciardo may eventually replace his countryman Mark Webber at the championship winning squad.

Which brings us back to "something blue". After a pole position in every race so far this year for Red Bull, and six wins from eight races for Sebastian Vettel, who can bet against the blue cars winning again this weekend? Not me. Although will it be 2009 Silverstone winner Vettel or 2010 winner Webber in 2011? Now that is the question!

Steve Slater is an F1 race commentator on STAR Sports’ coverage of Formula One.


First Published: Jul 08, 2011 21:34 IST