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And he used to be such a nice, quiet boy

Webber tastes victory at last

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Hey, I can see the bottom.  Gerruz another

Hey, I can see the bottom. Gerruz another

Well the Aussie finally did it.  All those years chipping away with Minardi, Jaguar, Williams and finally Red Bull paid off and we have an Antipodean on the podium for the first time since Alan Jones 25 years ago.

It wasn’t an easy race, however.  He had to endure a drive-though penalty after the race turned into a hard-fought slugging match.  He moved towards Barrichello, slightly off the racing line, and the hawkeyed stewards were soon on his case.

Who has the key for these invisible handcuffs?

Who has the key for these invisible handcuffs?

Lewis Hamilton got off to a good start, at one point three-abreast with Barrichello, then it started to go wrong.  However during an earlier tussle with Mark Webber a piece of metal had penetrated his rear tyre, and he was forced to make an unscheduled trip to the pits.

Meanwhile Massa and Koveleinen used their KERS system to jump forward from fifth to third.  Some teams don’t rate KERS, but Koveleinen seems to have it down to a tee.

Off duty, the cast of Star Wars had their own rugby team

Off duty, the cast of Star Wars had their own rugby team

After all that Webber had a pretty unremarkable race and he kept the lead of several seconds right up until the end.  Good on you Mark.  Bonzer!

Meanwhile, several hundred miles away.. Myself and my good lady had a guided tour of Silverstone, and on a race day to boot.

Myself on the roof of the Driver's club

Myself on the roof of the Driver's club

The tour started with the guide, a professional racer called Robin giving a little exclusive into the row over who will host the British Grand Prix next year.  He reckoned Donnington Park will never get the British Grand Prix.  This is because no helicopter can fly on the day due to being directly in the flight path of East Midlands airport.  Helicopters are used for  TV cameras, but also crucially, for Casualty evacuation.  Furthermore race go-ers would have to be bussed in from twenty miles away (they reckon).

Claire with the MG car club tearing up the track behind

Claire with the MG car club tearing up the track behind

The real reason the Grand Prix would leave Silverstone simply came down to money,  At present it takes £18 million to host the British Grand Prix.  Bernie wanted to crank it up to £22 million.  Silverstone didn’t have that kind of money and always lost money on a race day, clawing it back throughout the following year.  If they get the Moto GP instead, they can pack the place with Bikers and make twice the cover charge on the door.  So it is with leverage that Silverstone goes about it’s war against Bernie and Max.

The tour started in a little reception area before quickly moving on to the Grand Prix Driver’s Club.  This was a decent sized club-house very similar to Golf and Country clubs I have worked at.  The ground floor had a bar and several cabaret tables.  It also had cabinets full of model cars and several brilliant watercolour paintings on the walls.

An original watercolour in the Driver's club

An original watercolour in the Driver's club

From there we had a look from the viewing platform on the roof.  We had a splendid view of the Classic M.G.s roaring their way around the racetrack.

Mission control, Silverstone

Mission control, Silverstone

They then gave us a view of the Steward’s offices.  They had a command centre that looks like something out of NASA.  It has twenty odd camera monitors and everything is recorded on to a hard drive in case of accidents.

A genuine Stewart 1998 Grand Prix car

A genuine Stewart 1998 Grand Prix car

The final part of the tour took us into the garages where they kept their racing Lotuses and Porsches.  Naturally we all wanted a go, there and then, they looked brilliant.  Also there was a Stewart Grand Prix car in mint condition.

Claire and a Silverstone Race Car

Claire and a Silverstone Race Car

After that we had a tour around the peripheral track.  Silverstone was a World War Two airbase, but what is less well known is that it once had an Abbey.  However the soldiers of Henry VIII burnt and pillaged it during the reformation and it had lain waste ever since.  Ghostly monks have been said to walk the grounds.

In all we had a brilliant tour, and at £25 it wasn’t at all expensive.  I recommend it as a present for any racing fan.

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Written by Nick Gilmartin

July 13, 2009 at 4:54 pm

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