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.

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

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The palace of a prince overlooks the garage of a champion.

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.

I head off to Silverstone at dawn tomorrow for the British Grand Prix. There is always a great atmosphere at Silverstone where despite eye watering prices over 130,000 spectators regularly watch the race. It should be exciting tomorrow. Qualifying was thrilling, with Mercedes getting the better of Red Bull again. Hamilton seems to have finally got the measure of his car and stormed to pole with the only sub 1 minute 30 second time, nearly half a second quicker than team mate Roseberg. Vettel was the quickest of the Red Bulls but Paul D Resta gave British fans something else to cheer about with a fantastic P5. Will he finally get the podium place he so deserves? Ricciardo also did very well at P6 – perhaps motivated by the soon to be vacant Webber seat at Red Bull? Conversely the Lotus struggled to P8 and 9 and the Ferraris did even worse, Alonso managing only P 10 and Masa P12. But the news was far worse still for McLaren and Williams with both teams failing to make it out of Q2. Hamilton’s much derided decision to leave McLaren for Mercedes now looks increasingly sensible. Williams’ sad slide to oblivion is beginning to look irreversible.

Whilst I’ll be in my Lotus shirt tomorrow I’ll be cheering on Hamilton and Di Resta and wishing the best to the other Brits. A victory for Hamilton in a Mercedes would be a fairy tail mirroring Moss’s first British GP win for Mercedes in 1954. But whilst Mercedes seem to have the pace for qualifying Red Bull seem stronger in the races. Can Mercedes hold Red Bull off this time?

Best Drive of 2012

Undoubtedly the long drive up from Lands End to John O’Groats as part of this year’s LE JoG. Even though I navigated, rather than drove, most of it.. Whizzing around Goodwood in the McLaren MP4 after a tour of the MTC comes a close second.

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You take the high road..

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Best Car of 2012

I have seen many fine cars this year, at The Festival of Speed, Goodwood Revival, various events with McLaren, at Brooklands, Crystal Palace and on the London to Brighton run. The fabulous collection of Auto Unions at the Goodwood Revival was particularly memorable but the most stunning car I saw was the Daimler Double Six at the Windsor Castle Concourse of Elegance. just look at the lines and that long long bonnet!

Star of the show for me - fabulous Corsica bodied Daimler Double Six

Star of the show for me – fabulous Corsica bodied Daimler Double Six

Best Motoring Event Attended 2012

The Goodwood Revival is always amazing and one of the motoring high points of my year. For racing thrills and passionate crowds the newly competitive British GP at Silverstone is a must for all UK petrol heads. The London to Brighton run is always fascinating and the Classic Motor Show at the NEC was a great season closer. But my top event for 2012 was the Windsor Castle Concourse of Elegance. I am not usually one for car polishers but the collection of cars brought together at the Queen’s weekend home was stunning. Even my wife and kids found it interesting, which is saying something!

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Her Maj’s Roller even interested the kids..

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Achtung! Auto Unions!

Best Motoring Event in which Participated 2012

LE JoG – no question.

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Hero of 2012

Of our current crop of F1 drivers Vettel, now the youngest triple F1 Champion, stands out. If he had been less temperamental when faced with adversity then maybe he would have crept to the top of my list. As it was I think Alonso gave him a great run for his money in a clearly inferior car. Hamilton also showed some of the genius that seemed lacking from his driving in 2011. And that strange petulant streak that marred many of his performances last year was largely absent. Just look at his reaction when Hulkenberg’s rash lunge robbed him of victory at Inerlagos. But my hero of 2012 is former F1 driver and Double Champ Car Champion, Alex Zanardi. Not only did he magnificently overcome the horrific loss of his legs in a racing accident in 2001 to go on to a successful Touring Car career, he now has a fistful of Paralympic medals to add to his trophy cabinet. Winning two golds and a team silver at the age of 45 in a sport he only took up two years ago, is particularly impressive.  And the venue for his most emotional success (Gold in the Hand Cycling Road Race)? Brands Hatch of course – where his highest previous finish was a second in a F3000 race in 1991.  What a remarkable and inspirational man!

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This year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was perhaps the most exciting race of the season thanks to some fantastic, and not so fantastic, driving. From the first corner pile up to Hamilton’s McLaren breaking (again) when he seemed to have the race tied up, it was edge of the seat stuff.

The race produced a tremendous result for Lotus, Raikkonen, Vettel, Alonso and Abu Dhabi itself.

Last year I attended the Abu Dhabi GP as a guest of Lotus and I know how much winning a GP means to them. An excellent bunch, owned by real enthusiasts, they deserve their success.

Despite being third in the championship Raikkonen had not won a race until Abu Dhabi. And though he did not seem overly pleased with the result, the fact he finally proved all those who doubted the wisdom of his return to F1 wrong, must be pleasing.

Vettel’s drive to third from the back of the grid was remarkable. Although he clearly benefited from the three safety car periods he pulled off a number of fine overtaking moves. He is looking strong for the championship.

Alonso also drove well and his second place just about keeps his title ambitions alive.

Finally, it was great to see Abu Dhabi hosting such an exciting race. The facilities for spectators are excellent, the locals friendly and the city fascinating. The new Pirelli tyres, coupled with DRS and KERS, have turned what was another boring modern circuit into one of the most exciting away venues for British F1 fans.

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Another Grand Prix and another dominant Red Bull performance. The recent tweaks to their cars have relegated the opposition to mere spectators. And if it wasn’t for late mechanical problems with Webber’s car, Red Bull would have converted a qualifying one two into the same result on the podium. As it was, another fine drive by Alonso took him from fifth on the grid to second to keep his title hopes alive.

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