Viewing entries tagged
British Grand Prix



By Alan Henry

Published by: Haynes Publishing

ISBN: 978 1 84425 974 8

Price: $25.00

// Review

The British Grand Prix has become a hotbed of political and commercial intrigue over the past dozen years of its history. Although fingers have been pointed at Bernie Ecclestone, the consummate ‘puppet-master’ of the Formula One scene, for allowing the situation to proliferate, this 232 page hardback may help to redress the balance.

As an event, the importance of the British round of the premier series cannot be ignored. After all, it was the very first round of the FIA World Championship, when it was inaugurated in May 1950, and its past has certainly been exceptionally colourful, welcoming the great and the glorious of Formula One‘s past to its county venue, some 60 miles north of the City of London.

However, as a reliable and much-lauded journalist, the author’s inside track of knowledge and his innate ability to get directly in front of the sport’s main protagonists are what make this book so engagingly readable. Alan Henry’s background research is unimpeachable and you will be amazed at the various implications discussed in its content. Trust me, when I tell you that it is a fantastic read.

With any good fortune (and a following breeze), Silverstone’s future as ‘The Home of British Motor Sport’ does look somewhat more assured in recent times, a factor that lies clearly at the door of its present management structure, even though the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) remains the stoical owner and overseer of all things related to Silverstone Circuits.

USGP Emergency Preparations Briefing

The Combined Transportation, Emergency & Communications Center

// Situation

In a secure room in East Austin, a meeting was held to further explain the lesssons learned from the City's recent trip to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. With representatives in several departments ranging from Transportation and Fire, to EMS and Police, the brefing was a chance to explain the steps being taken to ensure the success of the inagural Formula 1 United States Grand Prix in Austin.

We learned very quickly that the City of Austin and Travis County are working closely with Circuit of The Americas and other governmental agencies to coordinate all aspects of emergency preparations for the race track and Austin. Whether your a die hard racing fan or not, you've no doubt been very interested in how exactly the city will manage such an enormous crowd that expected to dwarf SXSW and ACL Music Fesitival.  In the briefing, we learned first hand that the city and county are taking the preparations very seriously and have been working for over a year on how to make things move smoothly come November.

In order to help desciminate this information to you as concise and clear as possible, we've edited the briefing down to 14 videos with targeting questions to the most important questions. If there are some unanswered questions, please feel free to ask below in the comments and we'll do our best to assist or explain further.

// Introduction


Race Review: British Grand Prix

I had high hopes for the British Grand Prix. I even brewed some good tea for the occasion, and practiced my British accents. I wanted rain on race day, plenty of overtaking, dark horse race car that comes from behind. I think I may have set the bar too high since we've been treated with so many unbelievably thrilling races so far. The British Grand Prix seemed to have paled by a lightest of shade. 

That's not to say the race was not exciting. The Silverstone race certainly had its great moments - great defensive start by Alonso who was on pole, massive duel between Alonso and Hamilton on Lap 19 with Alonso making a pass on Hamilton only to have Hamilton come back in the next corner and then Alonso taking one more pass on Hamilton, and then of course, the winning pass that Webber did over Alonso at Lap 46 of the 52-Lap race to clench the very sweet victory.

Webber is the silent and stealthy driver of the season. He's been quietly scoring good points (currently 2nd in Championship standing), out qualifying more than his double-World Champion team mate Vettel, winning the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix and now taking home the trophy for another iconic Grand Prix. Webber also managed to be a double winner of the Silverstone track as well as the 2nd double winner of this season. Tyres strategy played a key role in Webber's win over Alonso near the end of the race, but that should not take away from the beautiful yet aggressive way that Webber has driven in this race. Immense respect for Webber!

None of the British drivers were able to fulfill the home crowds' dream of a British driver on the top of the podium - Hamilton had no pace overall, Button was stuck way behind after qualifying 16th, and di Resta was taken out in Lap 1 since he made contact and received a puncture.

One thing to note is that McLaren's pit stops have FINALLY improved for this race. Their pit stop times have been quick and, more importantly, error-free. Hope they keep this up, every action counts in a tight race like this season.

There was also a bit of track drama that was caused by the incident between Maldonado and Perez in Lap 12 after they came out from the pit. Maldonado claimed another victim by nudging Perez off, causing both cars to spin around and ultimately an early retire for Perez. Perez had some harsh words to say to Maldonado, including juicy bits about all the drivers think Maldonado is reckless and have no respect for other drivers and for the sport. It's definitely easy to be on Perez's side when this is not the first time Maldonado brought troubles to another driver.

During the race broadcast, I spotted the Grid girl outfit. I had to do a double take because at first I thought flight attendance in red uniforms were hanging about in the grid, then I realize they are Grid girls instead. Can we get some more sass into those Grid girls outfits? I'm not looking for couture fashion, just more interesting and/or more stylish will do. What about the Best Post-race hair? This race was a tough one to call, all the podium winners' hair were pretty decent but no one stands out. I suppose if I really had to pick, Webber would be the Best post-race hair winner. I know, seems unfair for one person to win both the Grand Prix AND Best Post-race hair, but I had to keep the award as unpredictable as the race itself, it's tough work and someone has to do it!

Catch you in 2 weeks' time for the German Grand Prix 7/20 - 7/22!

The Water Factor

Every now and then, fans expect the rain to interfere with the outcome of the race and create an exciting spectacle at the same time. While we all quietly wish for another repeat of the 1988 Japanese GP each time there is potential for rain at a grand prix, the truth is water is an enormously difficult and dangerous factor to consider for teams and their drivers.

With many close calls on Friday and Saturday during practice and qualifying, the evidence of failed water management at Silverstone is extensive and easy to spot.  On the screen, puddles and sheets of water are clearly visible as drivers travel through each obstacle with a distinct wake from their tire treads. 

After closer analysis, there seems to be a pattern of behavior throughout the circuit.  As I mentioned before, Will Buxton's rant about Silverstone's remodel and the new flooding prone pit lane is evidence that concerns are significant enough to stir up a nationally televised discussion about the situation.

If Silverstone is looking to tackle this problem in order to prevent accidents, race delays, and ensure the comfort and safety of everyone in attendance, then a serious implementation of water management is necessary. Though much of the circuit's remodel was focused on extending the track and the aforementioned new paddock building, it's really no excuse that puddles are forming on such a high-class facility.

With hindsight, it's always easy to give Silverstone a hard time for these issues, so instead we focus on what steps can be done to address them.  To do so means looking no further than our facility here in Austin, and how Circuit of The Americas is working to make sure fans, drivers and teams are well insulated from overflows of water. 

In our recent trip to the Austin circuit for interviews with Australian V8 Supercar driver Mark "Frosty" Winterbottom, I also spoke with the head of the project from Tilke, Frank Both.  In our discussions, I learned more about the plans the Tilke engineering team has set in motion to address the water retition at COTA.

We first discussed the overall progress of COTA and took a look at the surrounding situation at Turn 11.  At our feet was the initial layers of asphalt on the track with two white paint lines at a slight change in elevation.  Frank explained after the initial layers of asphalt are set down, the surface is cut and forms are laid for the curbs along with drainage pipes. 

Lining the circuit and staged ready for placement behind the curbs, a modular drainage system waits to be set into place.  I asked Frank about this system and he explained the drainage system lined the whole circuit to ensure proper collection of water at any point along the track.  Thus, the necessary infrastructure to prevent puddles and streaks of water across the circuit is not localized, but instead a continuous network around the whole circuit. Should rain become a factor at this year's USGP, fans can be assured that the necessary infrastructure is in place to make sure all the action stays on track and doesn't spill off (as much as one can ensure, anyway!).

After this weekend's British GP, there's plenty of evidence that careful consideration for water retention should not be taken lightly. Failing to do so may end up costing a driver some points or even put him in the wall.  After speaking with Frank Both and learning more about Tilke's plans for COTA, I've gained another level of respect for their expertise in circuit construction. We can rest assured the dangers of excessive water on the track will be absent, thanks to the foresight of Tilke and the contractors constructing COTA. 

Austin Officials On The Ground for British GP


Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, City Manager Marc Ott and Police Chief Art Acevedo are just some of the Texans at Silverstone this weekend for the British Grand Prix. Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr had to cancel her trip due to fire danger in Central Texas with our lack of rain and 100' F+ temperatures (typical Texas summer).

The purpose of this trip is for city officials to start to understand the magnitude of a Formula 1 weekend in person. As the Statesman reported last week, representatives at Silverstone will meet with their Austin counterparts in the track's nearby county of Northamptonshire. "Silverstone is similar to the F1 track near Elroy, as both are permanent tracks in somewhat rural areas," said COTA spokeswoman Julie Loignon.

Before he boarded his flight, here is what Chief Acevedo had to say:

On my way to ABIA for London fact finding mission. Look forward to the learning, and hope to bring back some solid lessons learned.

Austin's YNN reporters Russell Wilde and Jeff Stensland are also in England, and took some time to speak with Chief Acevedo after his first day at Silverstone.  The 24-hour news channel is the only local Austin news crew in attendance this weekend, gaining valuable first-hand knowledge to share with Austin upon their return. Chief Acevedo shared his thoughts with YNN about the scale of the event:

You can't truly appreciate or grasp the complexity and the monstrosity that this event is going to be for Austin. It's going to be something we've never experienced.

Kudos to Police Chief Art Acevedo who is tweeting up a storm! Pun intended, as Silverstone is getting dumped on by non-stop rain which greatly affected this morning's practice 3 and qualifying sessions. Hey gang - bring back some rain for us, deal?

From his Twitter account, Chief Acevedo is giving his followers a feel for what is to be expected during an F1 weekend. Check out these highlights in conjunction with his photos above.

// Friday

F-1 traffic is really bad. Today venue only has practice races and the roads in the area are dead stopped. Contra flow will be used in ATX.

Police operations are up and running.

Lot of folks are bringing camper trailers out here in the Silverstone Area.

Lots of rain in Great Britain. Flood warnings issues throughout the county.

My thanks go out to the British Government for their assistance with logistics today.

Just finished nearly 30 hour work day. Getting a bite to eat and get some down time. Good first day discussions with British Officials.

// Saturday

On the road for day two of fact finding mission. Forecast calls for more rain. Slept like a log.

Traffic challenges have been a huge eye opener.

Traffic nightmare started early today. Contra flow is being used tomorrow. Flexibility of operation will be critical.

Traffic lines start early and last all day.

F1 traffic backed up early on qualifying day. No Law Enforcement in sight along traffic route. 80,000 folks expected.

Significant number of attendees are using bicycles as mode of transportation.

F1 traffic on way in to venue is one lane most of the way in. Lots of folks in foot. Extensive use of double decker buses in/around venue.

Inside F1 venue at Silverstone. Cool day with heavy menacing cloud cover.

Double decker buses at F1 being used extensively. (See photo above)

Mobile police and EMS command posts on site.

EMS First Aid station. (See photo above)

Steady flow of helicopters constantly shuttling folks in. With close vicinity of ABIA ATC should plan on extra staff.

Heavy rain on and off here wrecking havoc.

Made it to the event site this morning. Sorry couldn't tweet with the heavy rain and large crowds cell coverage poor.

Mobile police station inside venue. Public safety highly visible presence.

Mobile first aid station inside. Significant EMS presence throughout venue. Hundreds of medical incidents during event.

Received a lot of good information from local officers. Rain related frustration at camp sites were problematic.

Mobile field hospital inside venue. Receives extensive briefing. Issues range from headaches to cardiac arrest.

Plenty of EMS coverage as [seen] below. (See photo above)

[Medical] evacuation copter on site at all times. ATX will have contact with Star Flight.

Inside Command post. We will have EOC at CTECC, DOC at APD and CP at Formula 1 activated.

We can't go on without fuel. Local cod fish and chips. Pretty good stuff. Wish my 4 year old was here to eat my peas! (See photo above)

Overall very good information gathered today. The interaction with local public safety personnel was very informative.

We have meetings set up with local government officials tomorrow. Looking forward to coming home. Missing ATX!

Great to travel with a Mayor and CM who ask questions that are relevant and on point. Observations lead to talk about application to ATX.

security appears to be tight and effective.

Rain has finally taken a time out after heavy down pours.

Interesting to see 43,000 folks camping at sites around F1 venue. ATX will not offer option at site this year but will as early as 2013.

// TV Coverage

Just a reminder that the British Grand Prix will be broadcast at 11AM Central on your local FOX channel tomorrow. The pre-race and post-race show will be on SPEED channel. Enjoy the race!

The Art of Wet Racing

Without a doubt, Formula 1's ability to take on the rain makes it a unique series in the motorsports world.  Tolerating substantial downpours and several hour delays is the norm for the traveling event, separating it from the fair-weather nature of most racing (think day-long delays, such as the Daytona 500 this year). This year's British GP will certainly not disappoint, and for those attending the race, it's going to be a tough couple of days "mucking about" in the mud around the circuit and the traffic on the A43 highway.

We've seen that tires can be the deciding factor this season, evidence in Fernando Alonso's fight in the final two corners of the Malaysian GP with Sergio Perez, almost costing him the win.  The likelihood of such another fight is eminent as the potential of an "emotional" British GP will only be exacerbated by the buckets of rain pouring on Silverstone this weekend. Today's practice sessions were a combination of control and chaos as each driver struggled to pilot their vehicle across the delicate, slippery surface.  Though the action was relatively slow today, tomorrow's qualifying shouldn't disappoint.

Let's not forget as well, the recent remodel of the Silverstone circuit has spurred a love/hate relationship with the F1 community. Though Formula 1 has seen a bit of rain at other circuits so far this year, the new remodel of the Silverstone circuit has made the problems more complicated. 

In his rant this morning on Speed TV's live coverage of Practice session, Will Buxton (@willbuxton) let America know exactly how he feels about the remodel.  With a Pit Lane that's partially below the water table, the likelihood of flooding in this essential area is a real possibility.  Just how they will address the issue as the weekend continues is still a mystery, but we hope fixing floaties to the cars is outside of the regulations.

Rain filled races have made the history books time and time again, and no one would dare say only dry races are the most exciting. It is possible to go too far to the other side of that argument with Bernie signaling he's a fan of playing in the rain. Though the likelihood of sprinklers being added to race tracks for "fun" seem to be squashed for now, we'll be looking forward to a wet mess in Silverstone this weekend and hoping rain stays a natural feature of F1.