The new Jaguar XE is an important car for Jaguar.  If Jaguar are to achieve the volumes and income they need for long-term viability they need to compete in the C segment with BMW, Mercedes and Audi.  Press reaction, at least in the UK, has been favourable with Autocar, amongst others, ranking the XE above the equivalent BMW and Audi.  I have seen a few XEs now and it is certainly a nice looking car. However its interior is nowhere near as good as the equivalent three series BMW.  Nor is the fine looking exterior helped by the surprisingly large panel gaps. I have not driven an XE as yet so maybe it makes up for these deficiencies with its handling. It will have to because it is priced at the same level as its German rivals.  No doubt the XE range will expand over time but at present it seems very restricted given the huge variety of different models offered by Jaguar’s German rivals. Where is the coupe? Where is the all wheel drive car? Where is the V8 R range topper? Where is the hybrid? I suspect Jaguar are chasing fleet sales and the current range will probably appeal to fleet managers. But it does nothing for me. 

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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.

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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?

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The lead up to the Grand Prix is always fun. Arriving early in the morning, watching the GP2 and Porsche Super Cup races and then the drivers’ parade.

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After that there is time for a quick burger and a stretch in the sun. Some fans take their support beyond baseball caps and shirts with logos. Have a close look at the hair cuts of these two blokes. Kimi and Lewis would be pleased!

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The Red Arrows always put on a terrific display. No big British summer event would be complete without them!

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Sadly I was too far away from the track to be able to take good photos with my iPhone but here are some rather poor efforts.

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Sadly Silverstone was the last GP I will be able to attend this season – can’t wait till next year!

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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.

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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.

Ok so it wasn’t Ferrari but another team with a sort of great history, Mercedes.  Lewis’ decision to leave McLaren at the end of the season has been described as a “mistake” by Martin Whitmarsh.  And its hard to disagree with them. Whilst I appreciate that a young driver wants to win above all else, is Lewis really likely to make greater progress to another world championship at Mercedes than he would have done at McLaren? Sure he will become the No 1 driver but they have struggled this season (Rosberg’s solitary win in China excepted) and unless they manage to woo Newey away from Red Bull, its hard to see them making much of an impact on Red Bull, Ferrari , McLaren and Lotus. Even Mercedes’ bags of money won’t be able to deliver the sort of success Lewis needs. And when Lewis isn’t winning he’s not happy..

Its difficult not to sympathise with McLaren. Lewis literally owes them (and Ron Dennis in particular) everything.  They nurtured his talent for decades and built their team round him and the bitterness of his departure is a sad end to their relationship. When I was being shown round the MTC a few months ago my guide pointed to one of the McLaren F1 road cars that sits on display in the “Boulevard” and told the story of how a young Lewis Hamilton, when he had just been signed by McLaren, said to Ron “when I become world champion I want that car”.  Ron apparently told him he could have it if he won the world championship twice.  Lewis won’t be getting the car now.

Your name’s not on it any more Lewis..

But who will get Lewis’ drive at McLaren? The speculation has begun and my guess is the talented Paul Di Resta. He had been a possible for the Mercedes drive so I suspect Force India have already resigned themselves to his possible leaving. His fine drive to 4th in Singapore will have done his chances no harm and his cool (cold?) efficency will no doubt suit Ron.

So it will be all change at the end of the season.  Perhaps most significantly the final race will probably see the end of Schumacher’s F1 career.  I won’t be sad to see the back of him. He and the sainted Senna bear most responsiblity for the bad behavior that now so afflicts all levels of professional motor sport.