History and tradition get waved in our faces all weekend long when the F1 circus pitches its tents at Silverstone. It takes your attention away from the yawning gap between the quality of facilities at the windy old aerodrome and Bernie’s new world of shiny steel superdromes. Ironic, then, that there will be only one Ferrari, no McLaren and no Williams at the sharp end of the grid. In the last 40 years, between them, those three teams have won 35 of the races.
Red Bull and Mercedes battled in out for front row honours with Force India, Toro Rosso and Lotus, teams who have either acquired history and tradition or have wantonly disregarded it. Only Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari was in there to uphold old school honours and he could only manage ninth behind all those arrivistes… the old man would turn in his grave if he wasn’t already at the sigh of Alonso’s new facial hair. What is that about?
Not that there is anything wrong with seeing Lewis Hamilton on pole for the British Grand Prix alongside — but ahead of — teammate Nico Rosberg. Remarkable really when you think nobody could make any sense of Lewis’ decision to walk away from the team that had shaped his career last September, Lewis himself didn’t quite seem to know why himself.
After a tricky start to the weekend — and another rotten morning for the fans that drivers spend so much time vocalising appreciation for at Silverstone — Lewis was talking down his chances. But he didn’t look lacking in confidence when he took a stroll over to the pit wall to wave to the fans in Q1 when Rosberg was already out on the track. Any early-season doubt about his relative speed to Rosberg can be forgotten now — he was nearly half a second quicker.
Behind the Silver Arrows the two Red Bulls (Vettel ahead ahead of Webber). Behind Webber — and snapping at his heels in more ways than one — Paul Di Resta and Daniel Ricciardo. It’s amazing what the rare chance of a possibility to drive a championship-winning car does for a young man’s motivation. Webber’s decision to quit F1 could prove defining for many of the young gun’s performances this season.
Sutil in the other Force India, Grosjean and Raikkonen in the Lotus’ (Kimi running the ‘baboon’s arse’ DRS for the first time this year) and Alonso and that ‘tache topped out the top ten. Still, he looked a lot tidier than team-mate Felipe Massa did on the track. Massa could manage no better than 12th behind Jenson Button’s McLaren. Is The McLaren getting faster or the Ferrari slower? Button’s resigned, down-beat interviews are becoming a feature of F1 this year. I reckon he’d be a great team-mate for Vettel.
Meanwhile the last of the four Britons, Max Chilton will start his first ever British Grand Prix from the very back of the grid when a last minute single flying lap put Caterham’s Geido van der Garde ahead of the Marussia. Charles Pic meanwhile managed to get his Caterham ahead of Jules Bianchi. The two ‘Championship teams’ were joined this weekend by Esteban Gutierrez and Valteri Bottas from ‘the Premiership’.
That can’t have been easy for Williams — celebrating their 600th Grand Prix at Silverstone. Pastor Maldonado could so easily have joined him. Williams, you will not have forgotten, won its first grand prix here in 1979 and has won it another nine times since, McLaren 17, since it won with Pete Revson in 1973. Ferrari, who’ve been winning in the UK forever, have won eight times since 1973…
It will take a miracle (or a rainstorm) for them to add to the tally tomorrow. For Lewis Hamilton, it’s the best chance he’s had yet to write the first line in a while new story…