As the sun sets and the mud finally starts to dry up on another British Grand Prix, you would be forgiven for thinking that, thanks to a thrilling race and perfect weather on race day, a successful weekend was had by all. But not even a few rays of sunshine are enough to mask the disastrous consequences, both immediate and future, which may occur because of a lack of planning by the track organisers. Torrential rain coupled with thousands of fans descending on Silverstone on Thursday and Friday led to many of the field car parks and access roads becoming waterlogged and completely impassable. All of the 20,000 fans with general admission tickets for Saturday’s qualifying were then told not to turn up in order to allow the fields to dry out before Sunday’s race. Now this may sound like a smart move by the organisers as there would have been one hell of an uproar if half the fans couldn’t get into the track on race day! But why did they have to make this kind of choice in the first place? They claim that they were caught by surprise with the rain: they must be the only people in the entire country who were. We got news for ya buddy! It hasn’t stopped raining for the past three months…! What made you think this weekend would be any different? The organisers will no doubt have to refund all the tickets of fans who were turned away and the loss of ticket sales for that many people will have a detrimental effect on Silverstone’s already shaky financial situation, not to mention the damage done to its reputation.
By the time everybody had swam their way into the track it was actually time for some racing! Alonso started on pole with Webber qualifying a very close second. The only big surprises on Saturday were the two McLaren drivers who both qualified poorly in front of their home fans. Hamilton scrapped 8th position while Button didn’t even make it into the second part of qualifying; he started 18th. At least he was able to start the race, however, unlike Caterham driver Petrov who suffered an engine problem and didn’t even make it to the grid.
As the lights went out, both drivers on the front row got exactly what they wanted; Alonso held onto first place and Webber must have been relieved to hold on to his qualifying spot after falling asleep at the wheel at the beginning of most races. Schumacher may have qualified well in third but his race pace wasn’t up to scratch and he spent the first part of the race holding up those behind him.
Stupid actions and hefty fines were some of the main stories of the race and –I’m guessing this is not to many people’s surprise– Maldonado was involved. The controversial Venezuelan lost control and slid into the side of Sergio Perez as the Sauber driver was trying to overtake on the outside at Brooklands. After the race, stewards handed out a €10,000 fine. He was also given an official reprimand but since he has been involved in more incidents behind the wheel than George Michael, somehow I don’t think that is going to make much difference to his driving style. It goes to say that Perez was none too happy about the move which immediately him out of the race. After calling Maldonado ‘dangerous’ and ‘stupid’ he also suggested that other members of the paddock feel the Williams driver should not be able to race if he keeps putting the lives of other drivers in danger.
The second prize for stupid-move-of-the-day goes to Kobayashi who played ten pin bowling with his pit crew during the second round of pit stops. The Japanese driver was fighting for position on track and, in his haste to make up positions, carried too much speed into his pit box and ended up mowing over four crew members. Thankfully, the only serious injury was to the Sauber driver’s ego and his wallet: he was fined €25,000.
Excitement really built up just a few laps from the end when Alonso, who had been leading the race since the beginning, changed onto the less coveted softer tyre. Thanks to a different tyre strategy, Webber was able to finish the race on harder tyres and with only five laps to go, performed an amazing pass on the Spaniard around the outside at Luffield. The faster, more durable hard tyres led Webber to his second victory at Silverstone. Vettel completed the podium and Massa continued his upward struggle by claiming his best result of the season in 4th. Next came the two Lotus drivers of Raikkonen and Grosjean, who fought his way back into the points after clashing with di Resta on the first lap. Schumacher finished 7th after overtaking a disappointed Hamilton while Senna gained valuable points for Williams in 9th. Button made McLaren’s day even worse by barely scraping a point in 10th position. Both British drivers complained of a lack of grip throughout the grand prix.
Thanks to his victory Webber closed the gap on Alonso in the championship to 13 points with Red Bull teammate Vettel a further 16 points behind in 3rd.
Next is the German Grand Prix on 22 July which alternates between Hockenheim and the Nurburgring. This year is Hockenheim’s turn to host and after winning last time out at this track and having victory snatched off him at Silverstone, Alonso will be a difficult man to beat on German soil.