The British Grand Prix was another thrilling race in what has turned out to be a classic season. Although it might lack the glamour of Monaco or the first rate facilities of Abu Dhabi and the other new circuits, Silverstone more than makes up for such deficiencies with the passion of the 120,000 fans who make the pilgrimage to Northamptonshire every year. All the British drivers, including Max Chilton labouring at the back of the pack, received loud applause every time they went past the packed grandstands. And foreign drivers received sporting applause when their conduct merited it. In the end the fans got what they wanted, a British victory. Although the mechanical failure which robbed Rosberg finish handed the race to Hamilton, I think the fans would have preferred to have seen him take the lead following an overtaking manoeuvre. Instead, for thrilling overtaking and racing the fans had to look to Alonso and Vettel who battled it out wheel to wheel for many laps. Bottas also drove magnificently, finishing second having started 16th. Ultimately though it is Hamilton who will be happiest with today’s result as it now leaves him just four points behind Rosberg in the race for the championship.

Below, Hamilton crosses the line and takes the chequered flag for only his second British Grand Prix victory.

20140706-210747-76067090.jpg

Below, the top three on the podium face the ecstatic British fans. Bottas received his second place trophy from the legendary John Surtees who was celebrating the 50th anniversary of his world championship with Ferrari. Incidentally, as noted below (“Dinner with Emerson Fittipaldi”), the famous British Grand Prix Gold cup was at Silverstone to be presented to the winner. However all Lewis got was a horrible plasticky trophy based on sponsor Santander’s logo. He had the good taste to show his disgust and ask “Where is the gold cup? ” Where indeed?

20140706-211404-76444197.jpg

Advertisements

Gripping start. Poor by Vettel, great for the McLarens and Lewis. Raikkonen loses it and collects Massa. Both unhurt but out of the race. Real shame for Massa who was starting his 200th GP. Poor start for the Lotus’ too. Race will start again soon under safety car. Below Lewis on formation lap.

20140706-133750-49070294.jpg

Below, Sutil’s Sauber followed by the Williams’ of Massa and Bottas.

20140706-133841-49121289.jpg

Some interesting new iron (aluminium, carbon fibre …) at the FoS this year. Highlights below.

20140629-093547-34547143.jpg

The new Ford Mustang – finally available in right hand drive. Aggressive retro styling looks good – shame about the awful colour

 

20140629-093544-34544116.jpg

More “motor show” colours on the McLaren stand. Am I the only one who prefers the simple look of the MP4-12c nose to that on the new 650S nose? Must be as apparently there was so little continuing demand for the old car once the 650S was launched that they have now stopped making it.

20140629-093545-34545657.jpg

The Jaguar F Type Project 7 is an important car for Jaguar. Based on the slightly more extreme concept shown at last year’s FoS , the Project 7 is actually a production car – indeed the fastest production Jaguar ever. Its V8 is tuned up to 575 bhp – 25 more than the R Coupe. It also has bespoke aero, and trick suspension and diff with standard carbon ceramic brakes. The screen has a greater rake than the standard convertible and it has an D Type imitating faring behind the drivers role hoop. Inside it looks fairly standard and weather protection consists of a rather impractical clip on hood like the recent Boxster speedster. Its a striking car and they hope to sell 250, and only 60 in right hand drive. But what’s it for? Too comfortable and therefore heavy for a racer (and the rollover protection looks too scant) yet too uncomfortable for every day use. Is it therefore just for collectors and occasional track days?

20140629-093546-34546818.jpg

This stunning Jaguar SUV concept is far more likely to make JLR lots of money. Aimed at rivalling the Audi Q4, BMW X3 and especially the Porsche Macan it should perform well and in a different segment to current Land Rover products. I would certainly buy one. The bad news is that we are unlikely to see one for sale until 2018, with a hot version not to follow until 2019.

20140629-093547-34547566.jpg

VW ran their diminutive XL electric car up the hill. It looks like the future for urban transport but is very very small and very very expensive.

 

20140629-093544-34544825.jpg

The new Renault Twingo Sport looks like great fun. Based on the same platform as the new Smart 4-2 it has a rear mounted 1L turbocharged engine. Hot versions later this year should have 140 bhp making the car a mini 911!

There is always a fine selection of Le Mans sports cars at Goodwood ranging from those from the earliest days of racing to the very latest winning machines.

20140629-094853-35333085.jpg

Andy Wallace is reunited with his 1988 Le mans winning Jaguar XJR – 9

20140629-094850-35330440.jpg

This year’s Le man winning Audi e-Tron. Havings stumbled in the early rounds of this year’s World Sports Car championship they managed to win the race that really mattered. Sound familiar Peugeot?

20140629-094852-35332669.jpg

1970 Ferrari 512, just like in the film Le Mans..

20140629-094850-35330856.jpg

Mercedes high speed transporter carrying the fabulous Uhlenhaut Coupe (see previous posts from Stuttgart)

 

20140629-094850-35330033.jpg

This year’s Le Mans Toyota hybrid

20140629-094851-35331306.jpg

Gorgeous Jaguar D Type Le Mans winners – 55, 56, 57. This Ecurie Ecosse car won in 1957 and provided the design inspiration for the Project 7 Jaguar

20140629-094853-35333708.jpg

Vast V12 Sunbeam racer from 1920 and even bigger 1911 Fiat

Due to restrictions on testing (!) there were no contemporary Formula One cars tackling the hill at Goodwood this year. That did not stop some of the teams bringing cars for static display or bringing cars from previous seasons for their drivers and test drivers to run up the hill. Even then runs were restricted to demonstration performances with plenty of doughnuts and burnouts and very little speed. We had to look to the historic guys for real pace.

20140629-100008-36008323.jpg

Jenson Button in the McLaren MP4-26 he drove in 2012.

20140629-100008-36008646.jpg

Max Smith Hilliard in his 1972 Surtees TS9B. Seconds later he stuffed it into the bales at Molecombe corner. He was unhurt and at least he was trying!

20140629-100008-36008482.jpg

Legendary Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi driving the McLaren M23 with which he won McLaren’s first world title in 1974.

One of the best things about the Festival of speed is the close access to the drivers available for fans.

20140629-100412-36252976.jpg

British GP winner Johhny Herbert sharing a laugh at the Williams pit

20140629-100414-36254139.jpg

John Surtees was celebrating the 50th anniversary of his world championship with a class of cars and bikes associated with his career in action on the hill all weekend.

20140629-100413-36253643.jpg

An immaculately turned out Paddy Hopkirk reunited with his Monte winning Mini Cooper

20140629-100413-36253316.jpg

Twelve time World Motor Bike Trials champion Dougie Lampkin in action

20140629-100412-36252813.jpg

Felipe Massa reflecting on his good fortune to no longer be at Ferrari

20140629-100413-36253966.jpg

I had a good chat with Andy Wallace about Le Mans in 1988. The XJR made 250 mph down the pre chicane Mulsanne Straight. At night he could see so little as the lights were mounted so low that he had to pick out his braking points by calculating distances from land marks as they flashed by. To this day the XJR is the fastest car to have driven at Le mans. Andy has no desire to ever drive that fast again – he said it was something you could only do when young, fearless and lacking in imagination.

The Race Retro show at the end of February was a first for me. It sounded promising – a show given over to historic racing in all it’s guises. First impressions were not favourable. The show is held at Stoneleigh Park near Coventry, an odd assortment of decaying 70s buildings dotted around a windswept and muddy agricultural show ground. Having to park in a muddy field a 10 minute walk from the exhibition halls was not the best start but it’s fair to say the show itself was a cracker. Surprisingly big it sprawled through several large halls hosting traders, clubs, race championship organisers, book sellers, car restorers and auto jumblers. Whilst many of those present had also been at Autosport only a few weeks previously there was a more relaxed feel to the show and better bargains to be had. The show is set to become a regular feature of my yearly calendar.

20140323-195254.jpg

The show hosted a fine selection of McLarens. This is a Can Am M8D ex Denny Hulme from 1970. It has a 7.6 Litre 680hp V8 engine. Tragically Bruce McLaren was killed testing a M8D at Goodwood.

20140323-195327.jpg

This is the1972 McLaren M19 that American Peter Revson drove in the Indy 500 that year. He came home 31st. Revson would be tragically killed at Kyalami driving for Shadow in 1974.

20140323-195400.jpg

I presume this rare old thing is an original and not a replica? It currently seems to be used to transport a stock car racing team. Embassy racing ran a Shadow race car and was owned and managed by two times world champion Graham Hill. He also drove for the team in its earliest years. Hill found running a team a difficult job and initially struggled. However by 1974 things were looking much more promising. Sadly Hill and pretty much the entire team were killed in 1975 in a plane crash when returning from testing at Paul Ricard in France . The team did not carry on and all the assets, presumably including this transporter, were sold.

20140323-213422.jpg

One of Graham Hill’s finest achievements was winning the triple crown of motor racing – Monaco, Indy 500 and Le Mans. I have always thought that the Hills (father and son) were unfairly underated. Hill senior’s victory at Le Mans in 1972 at the age of 43 was particularly impressive. His co driver (and future multiple Le Mans winner) , Henri Pescarolo was initially sceptical that the “old man” would be quick enough but now freely admits Hill was the faster of the two of them. I had long been looking for a model of the fabulous Hill / Pescarolo Matra V12 but to no avail, so I was delighted to find this nice old French model, produced to celebrate that historic victory, at Race Retro.

20140323-200007.jpg

Corgi produced this nice model of Hill’s 1974 Embassy Racing Shadow just a few months before he died.

The British Grand Prix was certainly dramatic! Pirelli managed to conjour up a thrilling spectacle for the capacity crowd on a beautiful English summer’s day. Watching from the fast slalom that is Becketts I missed seeing most of the multiple blow outs myself, though I did see Massa’s excursion off track after his rear left burst.

20130706-180525.jpg

Lewis’ burst tyre was particularly harsh after his fine qualifying performance and clearly robbed him of victory in front of his home fans. Helped by the safety car he drove magnificently back to fourth from last. His comments after the race were revealing. He said that the “illegal” tyre test with Mercedes had been undertaken to try and address the tyre failure problems that had occurred earlier in the season but that nothing was done after the tests. His anger that drivers’ lives were being put at risk was clear.

Certainly tyres exploding at 190 mph are very dangerous for the driver, other racers, spectators and marshals who have to run on track to recover bits of rubber. That no one was killed or injured last weekend owes a lot to the skill of the drivers (only Massa lost control) and luck. In particular both Alonso and Raikkonen were lucky to avoid contact with tyre debris.

After the race some were quick to blame the “sharp” curbs at Silverstone. This was manifestly nonsense given the curbs were the same as last year. It was only days later that Pirelli admitted there was an issue with the tyres but again this was only after they appeared to suggest that fault lay with the teams using incorrect tyre pressures and camber. Whatever the cause it became clear something needed to be done urgently to avoid the (albeit slim) prospect of a boycott of this weekend’s German GP. Bernie Ecclestone wasted no time in banging heads together and hopefully we will not see any more failures this weekend.

The repeated blow outs and safety car periods led to a dramatic finale with Webber and Hamilton carving through the field to finish second and fourth. It’s a shame Mark could not win his last British GP but he certainly pushed Rosberg hard. His metronomic victory for Mercedes was ominous for Red Bull – nearly as ominous as Vettel’s gearbox failure retirement when he looked to have the race in the bag (the cheers of delight from the British fans when he pulled over left you in no doubt where their sympathies lay). A steady drive from Alonso meant he closed the gap on Vettel and though Raikkonen will have been disappointed to have lost a number of places in the last few laps the fact he has now finished more consecutive GP’s than Schumacher in his pomp is certainly some achievement. It was another race to forget for McLaren and Williams.

Ever since the success of the Senna film in 2010 there has been talk of more films, with racing at their heart, making it to the big screen. It’s fair to say that racing films have not really enjoyed much success beyond the piston head market. Whilst I can watch “Le Mans” and “Grand Prix” many times most critics were not impressed. There have been other racing movies since but none has made much impact – but that looks like it could soon change.

The 1976 F1 World Championship battle between James Hunt and Niki Lauda, McLaren and Ferrari, was one of the most epic racing seasons of all time. Hunt, the flamboyant English playboy, was a darling of the British public and Lauda, the precise Austrian World Champion, was the villain. Added to the patriotic drama was the amazing story of Lauda’s recovery mid way through the season after a terrible fiery crash. And set against all of this was Hunt’s tortuous private life, his insecurity, and his disintegrating marriage.

Bringing all this drama to the screen would not be easy but the producers have picked a great director in Ron Howard (Apollo 13 etc). Take a look at the trailers on YouTube. The film looks like it will be fantastic. I Thought I was going to have to wait till mid September to see the film with everyone else but last week the Goodwood Road Racing Club announced they had organised an exclusive preview showing of the film, with an introduction from one of the producers, in Soho on Monday evening. I can’t wait. Luckily I read David Benson’s excellent slim summary of the season (“Hunt v Lauda”) a few months ago so a lot of the story will be fresh in my mind. I recommend the book. It can be picked up for a couple of quid on eBay.

20130627-221522.jpg

20130627-221557.jpg

On the way up to a conference in Manchester I dropped into Donnington Park, Leicestershire, to take a look at the largest collection of Grand Prix racing cars in the world. I had been to Donnington before but that was many years ago when founder of the collection Tom Wheatcroft was still alive. I wanted to see whether his son, Kevin, had put his own stamp on the place. He certainly had!

A visit now begins with a walk brought two halls full not of racing cars but military hardware. One of Kevin’s passions is military vehicles and he has an amazing collection of immaculate and rare tanks, half tracks, lorries and bikes. Whilst I like that sort of thing too I’m not sure it should be displayed with the racing cars. Indeed some of the most famous cars from the collection were not on show. Where was the 3 litre Sunbeam, the Alfa Bimotore, the Lancia D50, the Rob Walker ex Moss Monaco winning Lotus 18/21, the ex Ickx Ferrari 312B, the JPS Lotus 72 and the ex Stewart Tyrrell 006? Maybe the cars are being fettled for the beginning of the season? But I would have liked to see them rather than a load of brooding German half tracks..

Still there was a lot else to see…

20130516-090004.jpg

Jackie Stewart’s exquisite Matra Tyrrell

20130516-090224.jpg

Pure 70s kitch – Penthouse sponsored Hesketh

20130516-090255.jpg

Damon Hill’s 1996 Championship winning Williams

20130516-090321.jpg

Red Five! Mansell’s Championship winning 1992 Williams

20130516-090344.jpg

Jaguar’s inappropriate attempt at F1 – which ended in failure..

20130516-090359.jpg

New Zealand Racing Orange! Part of the fantastic McLaren collection

20130516-090452.jpg

Fine selection of Vanwalls including streamliner designed for use (like the equivalent Merc – see below) at the fast circuits such as Reims and Monza. It was not, however, a success.