Weblog: Sports editor's view
The rough guide
AFTER yesterday's piece on F1 politics it's clearly time for some dumbing down, so here are ten of the most important things you need to know about life at the 2009 Silverstone Grand Prix:
1 Where are all the celebs this year? Normally you can't move without rubbing shoulders with the good and not-so-great. In recent years we've seen the likes of Axl Rose (who we thought was Mick Hucknall), Posh and Becks, Girls Aloud, the Kaiser Chiefs etc wandering around. This year the star spotters have had to content themselves with Jake "Too Tall" Humphrey of the BBC and, erm, Ted Kravitz of the BBC.
2 Always remember to do what doctors say, not what they do Walking through the paddock you might spot the F1 race doctor puffing away on a huge, huge, huge cigar (the kind of thing that makes the ones chewed on by Darren Clarke look like cigarillos). Obviously the trauma of having to mentally prepare for the horrific task of trying to save the lives of anyone involved in a 180mph shunt is enormous.
3 It's political incorrectness gone mad. Can it be sheer chance that non-rebel teams Williams and Force India (are you allowed to have two non-rebels and eight rebels?) have been ostracised by their peers and made to site their motorhomes next to each other at one end of the paddock? Well, it's not chance - the spots are decided by last year's championship order and new boys Brawn are down there too. Oh.
4 There can be no denying it any more. Damon Hill is a dead ringer for RPSPORT football guru Kevin Pullein. Both are massively respected by their peers, both have increasingly similar silver hair.
5 Don't mention the weather. The poor old British weather keeps getting a bad press but it hasn't rained once during the four F1 sessions or any of the support races. Countless folk defending the British Grand Prix this week have japed "we can't do anything about the weather, though!" Were these people not there when the Malaysian Grand Prix was stopped early due to a flooded track? Or when Sebastian Vettel won in the rain in China? For god's sake a drop of the wet stuff tomorrow would be just the ticket to liven things up (particularly for anyone who backs Lewis Hamilton at 200-1).
6 Make sure any merchandise you buy is up to date. All the current team clobber flogged from the official outlets is bona fide and usually top quality stuff. But there's a stall by the exit gate where they've still got Michael Schumacher flags on special offer. Have they never wondered why, in Britain, they came to have a surplus in the first place?
7 Just don't let Kimi become team manager. It's good to see F1 stars Giancarlo Fisichella and Kimi Raikkonen aiming to put something back into the sport by owning teams in the support race formulas (Fisichella Motorsport International and Raikkonen Robertson Racing). Let's just hope the laid-back Kimi never has the bright idea to become team principal: "It's understeering boss, what shall we do?" "Don't know. I'm off for an ice cream."
8 My motorhome's bigger than yours. Can it be coincidence that Ferrari's motorhome looks even bigger than ever this year, and maybe just an inch or two taller than McLaren's? These boys will aim to outspend each other both on and off the track.
9 Ecclestone: "I know nothing". One can only stand back and massively admire the way the straight-faced F1 commercial rights holder (boss) Bernie Ecclestone has managed to stay out of the FIA-Fota row this week. "What do you think about the latest situation Mr Ecclestone?" "Why what's happening?" the wily old fox replies. "Fota say they're forming a breakaway series." "Oh, you'd better speak to Max about that." A master of his craft and no mistake.
10 Grand prix's a crowd. If F1 does leave Silverstone next year they'll be missing out on a big crowd. Saturday and Sunday are sell-outs, while Friday's practice session attracted an incredible 85,000 petrolheads. Contrast that with the Turkish Grand Prix last time out, when the official crowd on race day was 36,000, rumours suggested it could have been as low as 8,000, organisers had to cover vast swathes of empty seats with tarpaulins and Mark Webber suggested they should let everyone in for free in a bid to create some atmosphere.