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.


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


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.


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.

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…


Jackie Stewart’s exquisite Matra Tyrrell


Pure 70s kitch – Penthouse sponsored Hesketh


Damon Hill’s 1996 Championship winning Williams


Red Five! Mansell’s Championship winning 1992 Williams


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


New Zealand Racing Orange! Part of the fantastic McLaren collection


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.