The silver surfer, the Shetland pony, the Finger and a bit of sunshine thrown in. Silverstone is going shake things up, says Nikki Grubb-Clarke
The British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Ooo, it sends a shiver down the spine. This is the track where Ayrton hitched a ride on Mansell’s sidepod. The track where The Evil One crashed and broke his leg in 1999 – a crash that very nearly gave Eddie Irvine the honour of being Ferrari’s first World Drivers Champion in 20 years. This is also the place where an Irish priest stormed the track and where the whole of the crowd did the same when Mansell scored the win. It’s place in F1 history and legend is assured. If Monaco is the King of Grand Prix, Silverstone with her high speeds, her super-enthusiastic fans and her incredible history is undoubtedly the Queen.
After Friday brought exactly the kind of weather everyone expected – rain – Saturday dawned bright and beautiful. I can’t quite believe it myself to be honest! After the last few wet Qualifyings, the one we thought would be guaranteed soggy and muddy is going to be sunny. As happy as I am that the British weather is giving 2 fingers to everyone that doubted it could produce a bit of sun, wet qualifying has been SO fun recently! Ah well – can’t have it all!
This weekend is also Williams 600th Grand Prix. They are going to want a good showing this weekend after an absolutely dire start to the season. *Suppresses grin*. I am hoping they are kept wanting and their form continues as is. I know, I’m mean and evil and horrible…but you wouldn’t have me any other way!
McLaren are coming home also having had a torrid start to the season. Grinchy has confessed that they need a ‘miracle’ to get a win here, and Cheeky had a tyre blow-out in FP3. Not the most auspicious of starts to the weekend, particularly in front of a crowd so ram jam full of McLaren support, sheer force of will, might well carry them through to Q3. Although it’s probably not ideal to be relying on this over new car developments!
RBR are starting to run away with the Constructors Championship, and Ferrari are desperate for a blinder of a weekend to try and stop themselves being trampled by a rampaging, wing clad beast, but with Massa intent on creating a ‘show reel’ for himself to build a new career in Hollywood stunt car driving, wrecking the car in each of the last 2 races, and having binned it AGAIN in FP2 this weekend, can they make it happen? Can I just say, if they can’t, I’m happy to volunteer to kiss it better. Rob Smedley, I’m looking at you.
For once, in dry qualifying, we had cars out all through the session – a welcome change for the sturdy Silverstone fans who must have felt like twitchers throughout FP1 on Friday, desperately holding out for a view of the Lesser Spotted F1 Wet Warbler.
My hopes weren’t high for Wallet Chilton going into this race, and he didn’t raise them any at all. A phenomenal lap by Bianchi put him 1.8 seconds ahead of his teammate when the flag fell. Now I know Bianchi is a great driver and given a few years will be contesting for the Championship, but 1.8 seconds? In the same car? Kinda says a lot!
Up at the top, Lew-Lew makes his intentions perfectly clear, landing the fastest time of the session by some margin. Oooo this could get good!!
With a SHOCKING 14th and 15th finish in Q1, the Ferraris came out early. A car that usually goes brilliantly around Silverstone, looking more like a Shetland Pony than a Proud Stallion. Massa pushed as hard as he could, but after his recent spate of crashes, I can’t help thinking his confidence has taken a baby bit of a beating. Q3 was out of reach, and he will start 12th on the grid.
McLaren’s lack of qualifying pace reared its horrible head once more, with Grinchy and Cheeky pushing as hard as they could, but unable to get themselves out of Q2. Speaking to a suitably Silverstone-excited Natalie Pinkham, Jenson confirmed that his 11th position was higher than he expected to be, that the team should be positive about the improvements they have seen and that the crowd are so supportive here, it helped them no end. Home soil made the Grinch’s heart grow. Bravo Silverstone Crowd!
Paul di Resta’s last 2 quali periods have ended at Q1, and to say he hasn’t been a happy bunny about it, would be something of an understatement. After an absolutely blooming amazing drive in Canada, quietly taking himself from 17th to 7th, seeing him in Q3 was exciting. I confess, I’ve never really ‘got’ the whole di Resta buzz, but Canada, credit where it’s due, he was splendiferous. Out to prove it wasn’t just a fluke, he produced a cracker to take 5th. He could definitely be a sneaky bet for a podium if his tyres are as kind to him as they were last time out.
Finger Boy had posted the fastest time in Q2, apparently stating his intention to flash the finger around England’s Green and Pleasant Land. Lew-Lew, seeing the threat to his home nation, promptly pulled out an absolute STORMER! Already being described as the lap of his career, it absolutely kicked the rear end of all that had come before it. Remarkable, Outstanding, Wonderful job, Lew-Lew!
With Finger Boy in 3rd and his nearest Championship rivals down in 9th and 10th, he’s got to be the smuggest wee lambie this side of the shears. But all is not lost. We can all do our own little bit to help Kimi and show our support for the newly coiffed free-willed Finn. I’ll certainly be doing mine!
And if ever there was a man that could make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, it’s Alonso. Although a shave wouldn’t go amiss. The face hair can’t be good for the aerodynamics, Nando!
Note: Our pretty line-up got a bit of shakedown later in the evening, courtesy Paul di Resta. He had to say adieu to his career-best 5th during Qualifying after scrutineers deemed that his VJM06 was below the minimum weight requirement. He will start the home race from the back of the grid or the pits. The below top 10 grid line-up reflects this shift.
The Grid So Far
1 Lovely Lew Lew – Mercedes
2 Nico Rosberg – Mercedes
3 Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull
4 Mark Webber – Red Bull
5 Daniel Ricciardo – Torro Rosso
6 Adrian Sutil – Force India
7 Romain Grosjean – Lotus
8 KImi Raikkenon – Lotus
9 Fernando Alonso – Ferrari
10 Jenson Button – McLaren
11 Felipe Massa – Ferrari
12 Jean-Eric Vergne – Torro Rosso
13 Sergio Perez – McLaren
14 Nico Hulkenberg – Sauber
15 Pastor Maldonado – Williams
16 Valtteri Bottas – Williams
17 Esteban Guttierez – Sauber
18 Charles Pic – Caterham
19 Jules Bianchi – Marussia
20 Giedo van der Garde – Caterham *will start 22nd due to Grid Penalty following Canadian GP
21 Max Chilton – Marussia *will start 21st due to VDG Grid Penalty
22 Paul di Resta