Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2018

Paddock Diary: British Grand Prix day three

Paddock Diary: British Grand Prix day three

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In today’s Paddock Diary Daniel Ricciardo flexes his muscles and @DieterRencken adds Le Mans’ greatest winner to his collection of racing drivers.

9am Charwelton

Leave digs and head to Silverstone for qualifying day. Am absolutely amazed at ease with which traffic flows – later I estimate from a look around the circuit that preliminary day attracted as many fans as do most other circuits on race day. Yet I stop just once in 20-odd miles: to receive a token that informs the main gate security my passes are in order. Once there I present said disc through open roof at a crawl, so no need to stop.

10am paddock

Walk in and see Tom Kristensen chatting with Johnny Herbert, Le Mans winners both. It’s the Dane’s 51st birthday, so I wish him the best, then request a favour I’d discussed with him some time back: I’m on a mission to have the inner boot lid of my beloved Audi TTS signed by all Four Ring world champions – I make it nine across rally, WEC and Formula E – plus others who contributed to the brand’s rich sporting history.

Allan McNish obliged at Spa last year, and Tom agreed to add his autograph at the next grand prix to coincide with his driver stewarding duties (and, obviously, my having the Audi present). That is, of course the big challenge: TK and Audi same place, same time. Thankfully Silverstone is a drive-to race from Belgium, so two hours late he and I catch the shuttle bus to the car park, where he does the honours for me. Thanks Tom, much appreciated! Two down, at least seven to go…


Time for lunch – Keith and I head for Mercedes, where we tuck into the fine spread on offer. I go for parmesan risotto with side salad, followed by raspberry cake and fruit salad. A word of thanks to Mercedes and title sponsor Petronas: without your wonderful hospitality the paddock would be a skinnier place, but so much poorer for it.


As feared, a red flag delays qualifying, which means some media sessions afterwards are truncated or postponed. In the end we get the job done, but not without a few overlapping interviews. My bundle is the Toro Rossos – I wonder what Brendon Hartley did to Lady Luck, but the Kiwi assures me he doesn’t believe in luck, good or bad.

Next up is Daniel Ricciardo. Given Sebastian Vettel’s neck complaint, Dan is asked whether increased G-forces created by Silverstone’s fast, flowing layout and grip from the newly laid surface could cause problems. He responds with a strong arm gesture to suggest he’s physically stronger than most. Typical humour from the Australian.

At McLaren I ask Gil de Ferran why he believes his recently announced gig as sporting director should turn out any better than a previous short-lived attempt at BAR. “I’m older and wiser,” he says. Let’s hope the gist of that suffices for this once-illustrious team.

Williams, too, is heading for a restructure if comments by Claire Williams during Friday’s FIA presser are any indication. Surely the team’s latest setback – an aerodynamic stall from a new rear wing that caused both cars to spin while using DRS – must be making life rather uncomfortable for technical director Paddy Lowe. Sad to say, but bets about a restructure during the summer break are on.


I undertake my customary paddock walk-about. I find early evening is the best time for sleuthing – day done, guests are gone, and hospitality units emptier, so team bosses have time on their hands and are willing to divulge a few snippets as they unwind. There’s lots of interesting stuff about, but nothing concrete to report yet, mainly because of the hectic caused by the triple header.


Pack up my kit; see Silverstone’s head of communications Katie Tyler on the way out. Remark to her how easy access to Silverstone has become. “We try,” she says. How does one say that in French?

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2018 British Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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One comment on “Paddock Diary: British Grand Prix day three”

  1. “Let’s hope the gist of that suffices for this once-illustrious team”

    That is an important step in the right direction for them, to admit and accept that they are no longer what they once were and drop all of the pretence is necessary.

    When they drop the “we should be winning, we deserve this and we should have that” talk then they can start to rebuild and work their way up again and take heart at their small steps forward instead of the crushing defeat at not winning every race.

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