British GP – The Race

Mark Webber, only the second man to win two races this year!
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Apparently  8 July 2012 was the biggest day in the world of sport in my lifetime. Perhaps ever. Well maybe not but let’s just pretend. Actually when I put this notion to the husband, he mumbled something about Euro 1996. This is the last time England was apparently good at football. Sixteen years of hurt (mainly involving constantly losing in penalty shoots) and counting. Yawn.

My nerves were utterly shredded even by lunchtime on Sunday with the imminent start of the biggest motor race of the season AND the fact we had a British player in the Wimbledon Final which was scheduled to begin one hour after the race got underway. Total logistical nightmare. After consultation with fellow tennis/F1 fanatics, I had a cunning plan which involved watching the build-up and the first hour of the Grand Prix, moving across onto the tennis, then catching up with the race after the tennis had ended. Beautiful in its simplicity but so flawed in the execution.
Now we are quite used to watching sporting events in a parallel time-delayed universe but due to various unforeseen eventualities like me feeling ill (not bed-ridden but just enough to find everything a massive struggle) and the incessant torrential rain meaning the children were under our feet all afternoon (unhelpfully standing in front of the television or wanting assistance with making Star Wars lego at Crucial Moments) our best laid plans imploded pretty rapidly. Oh yes, and one of the (many) monsoon rainstorms actually caused our TV to lose satellite signal and STOP WORKING. 


Federer – cruel slayer of a nation’s dreams
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 

Also what I hadn’t factored in was that the Wimbledon Final would reach its conclusion (when inevitably Federer would win and descend to heaven on a cloud of smugness) just around the time of the kids’ tea-time and the start of the long, tortuous slow process that normally lasts a couple of hours to get them into bed. So I watched the last 30 laps of the Grand Prix at stupid o’clock late on Sunday on iPlayer and only managed to catch up with the build-up and post-race analysis on Monday and Tuesday. Needless to say, I have watched this race (in several disjointed chunks) on the Beeb. If I was trying to get through it all on Sky, I would be still blogging about the British GP during the middle of Hockenheim qualifying. That could get quite confusing!



One helluva way to open a show


And it was an EPIC start to the BBC coverage. Jake Humphrey, David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan were flying over Silverstone strapped vertically to the top of small aeroplanes (awaits husband to post a nerd comment about the model and age of said small aeroplanes). Still beat that for an intro, Sue Barker and Nice but Tim. Obviously, I missed the intro to the tennis so its possible they might have parachuted down onto Centre Court. We will never know.

Eddie was sporting the Beatles-esque jacket that he got made for him when they all went shopping in China a few races ago. Actually it did quite suit him but then Eddie is…ahem…quite rock ‘n’ roll (more Bob Seger than Kurt Cobain obviously). Sometimes, it is hard to believe that he ran an F1 team not all that long ago and must have had to attend Team Principal meetings with Ron ‘death stare’ Dennis. DC had decided to opt for the ‘City banker on dress-down Friday’ look. He is no fun. I dream of a time when he wears his ‘China’ jacket with the loudest possible car print ever. Children in Need need to get onto this and sort something out and whilst they’re at it, make Jezza Clarkson do something really embarrassing all in the Name of Charidee…
Ah a sudden glimpse of Monaco and a feature with DC and Jenson about the triathlons that Jenson does in his spare time to unwind. As you do. Some people take root on the sofa in front of Soccer Saturday for 3 hours or while away the afternoon in a nice country pub. These F1 drivers are seriously mad. The French Riviera and the Italian Riviera just look flipping gorgeous. I had almost forgotten what sun looked like. *Sticks both destinations on holiday wish-list for when we win the lottery. 



Her Maj – quite clued up on F1 apparently
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 

Apparently Jenson met the Queen once and she was surprisingly knowledgeable. I like to think the Queen quizzed him on how much of advantage he gained from the Brawn double diffuser and why he is struggling to cope with the lack of rear end downforce this season. Still I suspect Martin Whitmarsh would quite like an answer to the last question.

Back to the pitlane where Jake, DC and Eddie were having a chat about Jenson’s disappointing performances (whilst standing outside Jenson’s garage and poor old John Button was a mere 5 metres away). Stick the knife in guys why don’t you! I’m not sure of the wisdom of having the pre-match chat right in the pitlane as we couldn’t actually hear most of what they were saying over the screeching engines of F1 cars. One of the biggest relevations from going to a F1 race is how stupendously loud F1 cars really are. I seem to remember we had to run around Monaco after the first practice session to buy emergency ear-plugs. Those were the days. Wistful sigh.
And we already had our first casualty of the race. Before the race had even started. Vitaly Petrov’s car was smoking a lot and turned out they had lost the engine. One Caterham down, one to go. 



Some F1 drivers on the back of a lorry
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)


Lee McKenzie was on board the Drivers Parade Lorry (don’t know why but I always find it quite amusing to see the drivers all piled onto a trailer and getting carted around the track). Lewis was quite overwhelmed at all the flags ‘just for him and Jenson’. I hate to break it to Lewis but there were quite a lot of flags for other drivers as well! Jenson seemed quite upbeat but was clearly praying for rain. Fernando had been briefed as to the vagaries of the English Summer and was in full arctic explorer gear. He even had a woolly hat on. Its July for crying in a bucket.
Next up (after some more waffle which I may have fast-forwarded) was David Coulthard’s gridwalk (no hashtag for obvious reasons). And the first person he bumped into was Martin Brundle doing the #MartinsGridWalk. DC then spotted Derek Warwick, the president of the BRDC. Derek told us that apparently this is the race that all drivers want to win, along with Monaco and Monza. Er, what about Spa? Anyway our first Random Celebrity at a Race was…drum-roll please…Goldie. At the risk of sounding like Alan Partridge, Goldie is described on Wikipedia as English electronic music artist, disc jockey, visual artist and actor. I best remember him from Eastenders which says it all really. DC then did a ‘John Terry’ and blundered into a photo that was being taken of Mark Webber with some minor celebrity. Usual Mark Webber interview – he spoke very fast, seemed pretty chipper, everything was bonzer etc.

Hugh Grant looking suave
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

DC then walked up and down the pitlane FOR AN ETERNITY without actually interviewing anyone. There weren’t any drivers loitering about but surely there must have been gazillions of celebs to pounce on. Eventually he just told the poor camera-man to take the lead and ended up interviewing Gary Anderson who works for the BBC. Then Eddie Jordan suddenly reappeared to say he had located Hugh Grant. Well that was more like it! Eddie was straight in with a producer-fed question about a science fiction movie that Hugh is currently making. Apparently Hugh plays six small evil parts in the film, wears a lot of prosthetic make-up and its the most expensive independent movie ever made. Hmmm think I’ll give that one a miss. As the interview lurched out of Eddie’s control, we rapidly flipped back to Jake ‘safe hands’ Humphrey. As grid-walks go, that one was an unmitigated disaster.
As the start of the race approached, the sun was shining. Absolutely typical. The worst summer ever, ever, ever (sorry I know I’m obsessed) and we don’t even get the prospect of a wet British Grand Prix. Stamps feet.
The build-up signed off with a final beautiful montage involving Murray Walker, Elgar and flashes of Damon Hill, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, Sterling Moss and Jim Clark. Although I did note that footage of Schumacher was shown in the background as Murray talked of ‘villains stalking the stage’. The Beeb just can’t help themselves.
Time For the Start and Go Go Go…! Unhelpfully, it appeared that the camera man filming the start of the race was strapped to one of those small bi-planes that we saw at the very start. The overhead shot was so distant that you could hardly make anything out. Still its not as if the start is crucial or anything.
The front runners all got away cleanly and, unless my eyes were deceiving me, it looked like Massa had passed Vettel. With the race barely seconds old, it had all gone wrong for Paul Di Resta who had picked up a puncture after contact with Romain Grosjean. It turned out to be terminal for poor old Paul. I remember wondering at the time whether this was a bad omen. Both Paul Di Resta and Andy Murray being Scottish and all that. And it was. *bursts into tears at the memory of the Wimbledon Final.

Felipe Massa (working hard to stay in F1 next year)
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Button meanwhile had a storming start and was furiously scrapping with Grosjean and Perez but just as Grosjean re-passed Button, Perez also slipped by.  Further up the track, Vettel was all over Massa and for a while they were racing alongside each other but Massa (yes, really!) quite brilliantly managed to hold his position and then began swarming all over the back of Schumacher. Steady on, Felipe…know your place lad!
Lap 5 and time for Lewis to get on the blower reporting that he had no pace. Not really a situation you want to be in at your home Grand Prix. Meanwhile Schumacher was holding up a lot of cars in his slowish Mercedes which was manna from heaven for Alonso and Webber cruising off into the distance. Schuey fought Massa off valiantly for a few laps but on lap 12 he yielded his position. I really hoped for more from Mercedes – generally speaking but especially on a cold, damp circuit like Silverstone. Might be time for Norbert to open the cheque-book, leave the amount blank and hand it to Adrian Newey.
The first flood of pitstops were now underway with little drama or incident, even for McLaren. Oh yes, that’s right, their drivers hadn’t come in yet. Turned out that Bad Driver Maldonaldo had rocked up to the British Grand Prix. His unwitting victim today was poor old Sergio Perez who was just minding his own business when Maldonaldo clattered into him and promptly terminated his race. I quizzed the husband some more about why he likes Maldonaldo and he said he reminded him of Senna. Yes, he really meant Ayrton not Bruno (I did check!). I get more sense from the 5 year old.
Lap 16 and Alonso pitted for the usual military precision Ferrari pitstop and he emerged ahead of Mark Webber. Button, was now running in 8th place and yet to stop. Just as I started pondering whether a vintage Button drive, surging up through the grid to a podium/win was on the cards (forgetting temporarily the complete aberration that is his 2012 season), he was caught napping and was passed by Vettel for 7th place. Next up to have a sniff was Massa who also overtook Jenson. So after that minor catastrophe, Button skulked off into the pits for new tyres.
I suddenly realised that Lewis hadn’t stopped and was now LEADING the race. It seemed like it took a very long time for the commentators to notice this stunning fact. Ok, he still hadn’t pitted but lets try and cling on to some excitement guys!
So a quick round up of where we were on lap 18 – 1. Lewis 2. Alonso 3. Webber 4. Vettel 5. Massa 6. Schuey.
There was a truly fantastic tussle between those two former ‘no love lost’ team-mates, Lewis and Alonso. First Alonso took the lead, then Lewis somehow clawed the lead back even on his shot-to-pieces tyres while Alonso was using DRS. Talk about putting a show on for the fans! Sadly Lewis couldn’t hold on but that little cameo was pure racing magic at its best. And on lap 21, Lewis pitted and the McLaren Disastometer of Doom didn’t even flicker. It was in fact the fastest pitstop of the day so far. Maybe they did give the Sky F1 team new jobs after all although I secretly like to think Ron Dennis had replaced the pitlane crew with some cloned Orcs.

Will this car win a race this season?
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Lewis fed back into 7thplace just behind a very close battle between Schuey and Kimi. That Lotus looks so freaking fast – its actually a mystery how a Lotus hasn’t won a single race so far this year. I might go and see what odds you could get on that. Well realistically I won’t probably do this but as and when Lotus win a race, I can sit back smugly and say ‘yeh I would have put money on that’. I’ll never die rich that’s for sure. Kimi and then Lewis passed Schuey. The 3rdplace in qualifying that promised so much was being gradually eroded by the fact that Schuey was driving a car that wasn’t much faster than a Volvo.
We heard on the airwaves that Perez had been ranting about Maldonaldo, the new Senna (hehehehe!). How he doesn’t respect drivers, how everyone is concerned about him (not in a good way) and how the stewards have to do something. He is a real old conundrum is Pastor – unlike a lot of irresponsible drivers, he does seem quite talented but then again has an unfortunate habit of crashing into people. A lot.
Yikes, Hamilton was suddenly back in for another pitstop. Deliberate strategy or was the middle stint not going as planned or maybe the Orcs needed to cut and run? So in he came, and out he came behind Rosberg and Button. No matter, Lewis was in front of both of them by lap 32 but then had the much more troublesome matter of Grosjean to deal with who was looking very nippy on the prime tyre.
We were now well into the next and presumably final round of pitstops unless you were unlucky enough to get Maldonaldo-ed before the end of the race. In came Vettel, Kimi, Schuey and Webber in quick succession meaning for a brief few momentary moments, we had a Ferrari 1-2. Slight Portent Alert, after his pitstop, Webber started really motoring and reeling off one fastest lap after another.

Gary Anderson who works for the BBC now

Gary Anderson, technical analyst extraordinaire, told us that Alonso should be aiming to stop around lap 42 and in that time, Webber would need to try and reduce the gap to 15 seconds. BUT NO, on LAP 38, Alonso came into the pitstops meaning he would have to do 14 laps on those tyres. This isn’t what Gary predicted. Uh oh, as the 1 year old would say.
Not wanting to be outdone by Maldonaldo as the ‘enfant terrible’ of F1, Kamui Kobayashi decided on a kamikaze pitstop to liven things up. Trying to run over your mechanics isn’t really going to give your race the boost it needs. Some post-race research confirms that three mechanics were hit but none were seriously injured thankfully.
So with nine laps to do, Webber was only 3.5 seconds behind Alonso. Gary Anderson told us that Alonso currently had some tyre graining so Webber would need to make his move before Alonso’s tyre performance cleared up. Man, its those pesky tyres again. I have learnt more this year about tyres (although to be fair, I knew diddly squat at the start of the year) than during all my many years of following F1.

A slow car overtakes an even slower car (see Schumacher, M and Hamilton, L)

Lap 47 and we had the slightly bizarre sight of a slow Mercedes driven by Schuey overtaking the even slower McLaren of Hamilton. Hmmm, Lewis was not kidding when he said his car had no pace. Meanwhile the battle between last year’s winner and the year before’s winner (Alonso and Webber) was sensationally close but it was going to be very hard to see how Alonso could hang on. Maybe in a pre-KERS world, a genius driver like Alonso could have found a way to defend his lead. On lap 48, Webber pulled a stunning move on Alonso to pass him on the outside at Brooklands to LEAD the British Grand Prix.
The Hulk (of whom we don’t hear much) had been pootling around anonymously in 9th place when with one lap to go, Senna and then Button passed him. Was it worth including that? Ah well, I’ve typed it now. And so, finally, passing the chequered flag in first place was Mark Webber.
So here are the results from the British Grand Prix 2012:
1.     Webber – A peerless drive with a stand-out overtaking move to win the race at the end.
2.     Alonso – Did a great job but Ferrari need to up their game with tyre/pit strategies.
3.     Vettel – Looks over at supposedly inferior team-mate enviously…
4.     Massa – There’s life in the old Felipe yet, well there’s still a detectable pulse.
5.     Kimi – Good, solid race. How un-Kimi.
6.     Grosjean – Did extremely well to get 6th after the disaster near the start.
So we have our second repeat winner and it is NOT a former world Champion. Hearty back-slapping congrats to Mark Webber who really seems like a top bloke. He is only 13 points being Alonso which is most impressive and wouldn’t it be fantastic to see him taking the title challenge down to the wire.
Now is probably a good time to have a quick canter through the driver standings:
1.     Alonso – 129 points
2.     Webber – 116 points
3.     Vettel – 100 points
4.     Hamilton – 92 points
5.     Raikkonen – 83 points
6.     Rosberg – 75 points
And sneaking a peak at the constructors’ standings: 1. Red Bull – 216 points, 2. Ferrari – 152 points, 3. Lotus – 144 points and 4. McLaren 142 points. Holy Cow. McLaren is in 4thplace behind Lotus. Who’da thunk it!
Hockenheimring. Two weeks time. See you then!

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