Podium, Silverstone, 2018

Paddock Diary: British Grand Prix day four

Paddock Diary: British Grand Prix day four

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Silverstone impressed with a first-rate British Grand Prix, but will it still be on the F1 calendar after next year, asks @DieterRencken.

09:30 Sunday

Arrive and park up at Silverstone, having spent just 10 minutes in stop-start traffic. Silverstone’s team has really put in a great effort: the circuit looks great, the crowd is massive and the weather glorious. Who would have thought that just five years ago the entire complex was in dire straits after that Donington debacle?

Top marks to the current BRDC board and management team, who worked wonders in returning respectability to what was a decade ago one of the most – if not the most – derided venues on the F1 calendar. Now Silverstone needs to cut an extension beyond 2019 with Liberty, and all be smashing for British motorsport, particularly given the rich seam of talent coming through.

George Russell leading the FIA F2 championship from Lando Norris after today’s round attests to that.


Catch up with Natalie McGloin, President of the FIA Disability and Accessibility Commission, who races a Cayman in the Porsche Club series despite being wheelchair-bound. Together with FIA Secretary General for Sport Peter Bayer, Natalie has ambitious plans to foster motorsport participation by the less abled, and we’ll be sharing some of the initiatives with you in due course.

Natalie presentedKimi Raikkonen with his trophy for third place after the race – a sign of the esteem in which she and the Commission are held, and a wonderful fillip for disabled motorsport.


BRDC chairman John Grant and Silverstone CEO Stuart Pringle show club president Paddy Hopkirk MBE around Media Centre. I hadn’t seen Paddy, whose giant-slaying antics in rally Mini Coopers in the 60s are the stuff of legends, for about 10 years, and it’s great to see him again, all hale and hearty. A wonderful character the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally winner is, and it’s heartening that at 85 he still puts time into the club.


Keith and I meet with our race coverage partner F1 Vision, who rent hand-held devices to fans at grands prix, and have some exciting plans to make their devices even more indispensable. We give the units another test-drive over the weekend and the verdict remains positive: the video and audio streams are smooth and stable (at least in the media centre) and there are a wealth of options allowing fans to follow their favourite drivers closely.


Head to McLaren for the healthy smorgasbord. Sadly I forego strawberries and cream as I have an interview pending, but over lunch we chat with Jonathan Palmer, ex-F1 driver, father of Jolyon and Will, and circuit entrepreneur de luxe.

Since we last spoke Jonathan has added Donington to his roster of circuits, the sale of the Midland circuit being yet another legacy of that ridiculous contract Bernie Ecclestone entered into in 2009, a deal that almost brought both venues to their knees.


Long interview with Vijay Mallya – I’m one of just three journalists to be granted exclusive access to Force India’s team boss during this sensitive time, and he answers all questions in typically gutsy style. We’ll bring you the full lowdown soon.

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Hit the grid, and once again I’m amazed at just how packed both it and grandstands are. There seem to be more F1 personalities about than usual and fewer irrelevant celebrities looking lost: the kind who wouldn’t know the front end of a F1 car from the rear of a Routemaster bus. It strikes me that Liberty would be absolutely daft to lose this venue.

The championship will mark F1’s 1,000th grand prix in April next year. Surely Liberty will not follow that up by dropping the first world championship race venue from the F1 calendar? Pray tell us, Chase Carey.


Time for the interview trail – Toto Wolff, followed by Christian Horner, then Charlie Whiting’s media briefing. It’s the end of the triple-header, and it shows: folk are anxious to get home, many for the first time in almost four weeks. Let’s hope F1 has learned its lesson.


Pack up and head for London, where I stay overnight with Cedric Selzer (see earlier diary) before catching Eurotunnel to Calais and onto Belgium. On a good day it takes 90 minutes to make the trip from East Finchley to Silverstone; I complete the journey in only 10 minutes longer – which proves how effectively Silverstone’s one-way system works.

Next stop Germany in a fortnight – for what seems likely to be the final race at the Hockenheimring…

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14 comments on “Paddock Diary: British Grand Prix day four”

  1. fewer irrelevant celebrities looking lost: the kind who wouldn’t know the front end of a F1 car from the rear of a Routemaster bus.

    I laughed out loud at this.

  2. we get it, please make a deal with Silverstone and traffic works fine unlike at France.

  3. Long interview with Vijay Mallya – I’m one of just three journalists to be granted exclusive access to Force India’s team boss during this sensitive time

    Are you able to disclose who the other two were? Just so that we humble fans can establish who is getting the stories direct from Mallya himself and who is just speculating.

    1. For some reason I doubt Joe Saward was one :-)

  4. One was Reuters and the other a non-independent media group

    1. Many thanks.

  5. These writeups are great, but I’d enjoy them even more if there were fewer irrelevant lunch details looking lost ;)

    1. Others want them, plus it’s part of the day and paddock life. It’s also a compliment to the teams – and what are four words in 700?

    2. Sush meerkat
      9th July 2018, 23:57

      I love the mention of food, it makes it feel more personal.

      Keith should do interactive tracking, how many calories were eaten and where.

  6. Still waiting to hear positive reports from FANS that went to the race. Facilities, vendors, food, parking, camping, grandstands etc.

    1. Were you there?

    2. I was at the race, 3rd time in 8 years at Silverstone, second race under Liberty.
      Facilities were decent, roving grandstand tickets for Friday and Saturday were very enjoyable.
      Disappointed by the “fanatics” F1 shop fan experience. One £90 Sauber sweatshirt, one £55 Brendon Hartley t-shirt – that was it for the drivers and teams I support. No thanks. Although it has always been impossible to find Sauber gear at any GP I have been to in the past.
      Food was pretty miserable as usual, £15 for a water, a burger, and fries. Very average. Brought food with us all other days. £3 for an ice cream.
      Drove up from London each day, all journeys were fine, except for the Sunday after the race. We left the podium at about 4pm, were in the car by quarter past, and out of the carpark by about 6:30pm. Not great. Stuck in traffic for several more hours until we got home at 10:30pm after dropping the rental car at Heathrow and getting in an argument about an already damaged alloy.
      Grandstands, well a plastic seat is a plastic seat. Maggots – Becketts is always a highlight. DRS now being down the Wellington straight means Woodcote is now good for overtaking in the support races. Copse & Stowe you are too far away.
      We sat at Vale for the race, and while its not covered, the occasional cloud provided some respite from the sun. Great view of the exit of Stowe, and the last sequence of corners as well as the pit lane exit.
      Screens were well positioned, and the text for the tree on the F1 feed is larger than on normal television, so you can actually read who is where, although this is not done for the support races. My only gripe is them switching to split screen around the circuit to show the football as well as the on track action. I’m not British, I don’t care for football. I am a race fan who went to watch racing.

      1. In the UK generally anyone that likes one sport will at least be interested in other high profile sports competitions. You were in England on a day when England were playing in one of the most important Football matches in recent history. You really should fully expect to see it everywhere…

  7. Keep sharing the lunch details! Normally I wouldn’t care. But this is as close as I can get to a F1 team lunch…

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