I’ve been a follower of F1 for many years now. I started out watching it at my dad’s house on a Sunday. I grew up with the voices of Murray Walker and Martin Brundle on the weekends. The Chain by Fleetwood Mac always signalled the beginning of next few hours of fun.

I stopped watching F1 for quite a few years after the coverage moved to ITV. I hated having the adverts, I disliked the change of staff. The BBC has got it right in the last few years. I have become a proper fan again. To cement my fandom I have finally attended my first ever race.

6AM has never felt as early as Sunday morning. Cheryl and I had rather stupidly spent the night at a party and only managed to get 4 or 5 hours of sleep before having to get up to catch a train. Parts of the tube were surprisingly busy any shoulders began to ache before we’d even got off the first train thanks to having to stand for the journey.

We arrived at Euston station about 10 to 8. We got the tickets and then sat around waiting for other people to show up. Everyone JonP, Emma, Rachael, and Stephanie showed up at around 8:10 and the train pulled into the station a couple of minutes later. We all got on board and 4 of us went one way and Emma and JonP went the other. Oops.

The train to Northampton is basically the slowest train on the face of the planet. The fact that it was delayed by 20 minutes didn’t help it seem any faster.

When we got to Northampton we decided that a taxi would be better than the shuttle bus. The shuttle bus would come to £14 return for each of us and the taxis would come out to only a little bit more when split 6 ways. The taxi dropped us off just outside an entrance and we were all pleased to finally be in the right place. We all got our tickets out and walked through the gate and we were in!

Silverstone from Vale

Silverstone from Vale

Dave and Hayley were already there so we decided it would make sense to go and meet them at Vale. We walked down along the side of the straight while a Porsche race was going on. There was a brief stop so that people could buy merchandise, and then we carried on to Vale. We picked a place and walked onto the grass. We eventually decided on a place to sit and put our stuff down. Literally 2 seconds later we turned around because Dave and Hayley were calling us from about 5 metres away. Pretty good positioning. 🙂

Cheryl and I set up our chairs and everyone else got settled on the floor. That was when we first noticed that there were spiders and greenfly everywhere! Cheryl was not very happy with this, but there wasn’t really anything we could do about it. At least we weren’t on the floor.

The Red Arrows turned up after a few minutes and performed a pretty awesome show for everyone. I completely failed to get a decent picture of one of the arrows as it flew over, but oh well. Hardly surprising when they’re moving so quickly!

Towards the end of the Red Arrows’ show it began to rain. Cheryl and I moved our seats closer together and huddled under a big umbrella to keep the rain off us. Sadly the umbrella wasn’t quite as wide as both of our seats, so we both had a wet side of the seat to contend with. The rain didn’t last very long, and then the sun came back out and helped dry off the seats, but parts of the track remained wet. JonP was very happy about this.

People generally just stood around chatting or went to buy drinks and stuff like that before the first F1 cars came around. I was expecting them to be a lot louder than they were because of a warning from JonP. Don’t get me wrong, they were very loud, but I think we were quite lucky in our placement. They were loudest after they’d gone through the corners and had moved quite a distance away from us.

The whole race went by pretty quickly for me. It was interesting trying to keep up with what was going on as the cars came by us on the track so we were very pleased that there was a big screen that we could watch to keep apprised of events on other parts of the track.

The best bit of the whole event was watching Hamilton and Massa fighting for position at the very end of the final lap. They went by us side by side and stayed that way as far as we could see until Massa went wide onto the straight to let Hamilton through. The crowd all jumped up and down and cheered. It was pretty awesome. 🙂

After the race the track was opened up to everyone. Cheryl and I stayed with everyone’s bags and jackets while everyone else ran onto the track with the crowd. Some of them came back for their stuff a little while later and we went down onto the track to meet up with the others. It was pretty cool to be standing on a track I remember driving around on so many computer games over the years, and a track where, a few minutes earlier, F1 cars had been driving around at a couple of hundred miles per hour.

The F1 Gang

The F1 Gang

We walked up the new start/finish straight along the new “wing” of Silverstone and had a couple of big group photos taken. We carried on heading towards the after-show events off to the side of the end of the straight. Before we got there Dave and Hayley decided they were going to get going home. I think they were both pretty knackered, and Dave still had blisters from when he was walking around London the weekend before, so more walking seemed like a bad plan for them. Sadly I heard they got stuck in quite a lot of traffic and it took them hours to get home.

The remaining group sat around for a few hours watching bungee jumpers jump from a crane. One man even did it naked, which was… interesting.

We watched David Coulthard up on stage for a little while. He was really funny. A hell of a lot more 18-rated than he is on the BBC!

It began to get cloudy and windy so once the girls had finished eating we all headed over to where the buses and taxis were. At first the taxi driver told us he couldn’t take us, but then he asked if we could pay £50. When we said we could he changed his tune and we all piled into his car.

He spent the first 5 minutes of the drive texting one one of his 3 mobile phones. I was not very impressed by that. If someone is being paid £50 to drive for 20 minutes the least they could do is avoid breaking the law in a dangerous manner while doing so.

We didn’t have a long wait for the train at Northampton station and we managed to get 6 seats together on the train. That’s when things got silly. We were all really tired and so we had a serious case of the giggles. Everything everyone said was funny, and there was usually no reason for it. It was a long journey to Euston station!

Once we’d got to Euston we separated ways with Emma and JonP and went down to the northern line where they somehow caught up with us again and we parted ways with Stephanie and Rachael.

We waited for the train to turn up for a couple of minutes and then a random drunk guy walked through the crowd and stood directly in front of Cheryl at the front of the platform. We didn’t say anything because it’s not worth it. He was rocking backwards and forwards on his feet while he stood there, so we knew he was wasted. The train arrived and he made sure nobody got in front of him. We got ready to get on behind him and as soon as the door opened he put one foot forward and tripped over into the crowded train. He was sprawled out on the ground with his jeans pulled half way down his ass by the trip.

We managed not to laugh, but I caught the eye of some of the other passengers in the carriage and they found it as funny as me. A few seconds later the train set off and the door between carriages came flying open right beside me. Everyone looked at it and then looked at me like I’d done something. Obviously the drunk guy had knocked the handle as he was falling or something. The guy got off at the next stop and the rest of the journey home was very uneventful.

That’s the story of Silverstone!

Formula 1 frustrations

Most people will already know about the way Ferarri managed the Hockenheim Formula 1 race yesterday. They had the two fastest cars and so they deserved first and second places in the race. Felippe Massa was winning and Fernando Alonso was second. There were times when Alonso was faster than Massa, and there were times when Massa was faster than Alonso. When Alonso was faster he was still unable to get past Massa. This obviously frustrated Alonso, but that’s just the way it is in racing sometimes.

It used to be the case that the teams could order their drivers to let their team member pass them so they could maximise the result. This was banned a long time ago after notable incidents involving Schumacher/Barrichello in 2002 and Coulthard/Hakkinen artificially deciding the outcome of the race in 1998.

At around 15 laps from the end of the race Rob Smedley gave Massa the following message: “Ok, so, Fernando is faster … than you. Can you confirm you understand that message?”

By itself that message doesn’t explicitly tell Massa to give up his position to Alonso, but a couple of laps later Alonso passed Massa without any challenge or difficulty. Something he couldn’t manage over several laps earlier on in the race. Quite obviously the message was sent as a way of instructing Massa to let Alonso pass.

Rule 39.1 of the sporting regulations for Formula 1 states the following:

39.1 Team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited.

After the passing manoeuvre Rob Smedley came back on the radio and said “Good lad. Just stick with it now. Sorry.”

Once the farce of the trophy presentation was over it was easy to see how dejected Massa was, and how uncomfortable the entire ordeal was for everyone but Sebastian Vettel who finished third. The press conference and conversations with Smedley and Stefano Domenicali were ridiculous. They kept going on about how it’s a job, and Ferarri is their employer, so they have a duty to the team. How about their duty to the millions of fans who fund the sport?

Let’s get this straight once and for all. Formula 1 is a motorsport. Motorsport makes its money from advertising and ticket sales. Advertising money comes from companies who want to get their products in the minds of people who view the races. This money pays for the teams and the sport to exist. Without the public there would be no advertisers. Without the advertising it wouldn’t be worth it for the teams to compete. It is in the interest of the teams to give the people what they want. When it comes to motorsport the people want a race! Specifically, a fair race according the the agreed-upon regulations.

Maybe Ferarri have forgotten what F1 is all about.

I believe that Massa could have held Alonso to the end of the race as he was doing earlier on, but sadly we will never know. Happily, I didn’t place any money on the result, but a lot of other people did bet on Massa to win. All of these people have been cheated out of not only a race, but also their potential winnings. Some betting shops are offering refunds to people who bet on Massa, which is very nice of them, but the people who bet on Massa should have won money, not merely failed to lose it.

The maximum $100,000 fine imposed on Ferarri is a pittance. Ferarri supposedly receive around $100,000,000 (one hundred million dollars) a year from Philip Morris (they own Marlboro cigarettes) for advertising on their car. Ferarri could fix the result of every single race and pay the maximum fine and still profit from advertising. In fact, the increased coverage given to the team would probably increase the exposure and therefore the value of the advertising. Since Ferarri appear to have the fastest car it might actually be in their interest to continue flouting the regulations. They could win the championship and make the advertising space even more valuable. The only people to lose out would be the several million people who fund the sport, but Ferarri don’t really care about them. Their duty is to the team, after all.

Israeli vs Palenstinian soldier in football

In an advertisement for a company called Cellcom there’s a football match between Israeli and Palestinian soldiers. It’s somewhat like the story of British and German soldiers meeting in no-man’s-land for a Christmas game of football during World War I.

Here’s the original advertisement:

Here’s what actually happens if you try that in real life: