ALONSO SOARS TO POLE POSITION WHILST THE McLAREN SPIRIT WAS DAMPENED

8 Jul

Michael Aspin At Silverstone

THE traffic queues were horrendous, and the A43 was clogged with traffic because the police had to turn the cars away, but eventually we managed to arrive in our coach party, and the appalling weather certainly did not dampen the atmosphere at Silverstone today.

It is electrifying. The roars of the engines could be heard for miles around and no matter where you were, you always felt right in the heart of the action in the huge circuit. Before qualifying commenced, the heavens opened, and we all flocked for the covered grandstands; Woodcote A has a spectacular view over the Brooklands and Woodcote sections of the track, close to full throttle, and a stones throw away from £100 Ferrari sunglasses, £8 fish and chips, and £1.20 Mars bars. the price tag was high, but it is a price worth paying- I would highly recommend you go whatever the weather. The noise may be a little harsh and painful at times- don’t worry- official Silverstone ear defenders are available (very comfortable, too!)

I predicted that McLaren would do well- wrong. Jenson Button faired poorly in the damp conditions, and traffic meant he never posted a decent flying lap time, and 18th place was what he deserved; team mate Lewis Hamilton managed to post excellent times in challenging conditions, but succumbed when it mattered in Q3 and will start 8th tomorrow. The trails of spray were there for all to see, and it was only a matter of time before the heavens opened and the red flag was flown- good old British weather for you, but it didn’t takeaway the enjoyment- the road sweeper was the fastest vehicle on track for twenty or so minutes, and the Marshals seemed just too skilled at sweeping rain that I am sure they had rehearsed and choreographed the whole event…

When qualifying resumed, some drivers adapted excellently, managing both wet and intermediate tyres; Ferrari were the dominant team today, exceeding expectations and performing superbly to land Fernando Alonso in pole, and an impressive 5th for Felipe Massa; Red Bull did well- both Webber and Vettel are in the top five, with 2nd and 4th place, and Mercedes faired well with Michael Schumacher, with a secure performance awarding him 3rd on tomorrow’s grid; others just couldn’t cope- Sauber’s Sergio Perez posted an excellent Q1 time, but only managed a disappointing 17th after refusing to go out in Q2- Romain Grosjean looked strong, but a gear box change will mean a 5 place penalty, not what the newly married Frenchman would want. With many top drivers displaced, it will be an intriguing race tomorrow and a case of who will manage the elements the best, because MORE RAIN IS FORECAST.

The fun didn’t stop at F1- the GP2 race started under the safety car, and many drivers managed to spin out, trying to battle the puddles of standing rain, and as the sun crept through in the early evening, the GP3 drivers had a difficult task, managing dry tyres well, but one slip up and into the wet part of the track they went.

It was an extraordinary day, a fantastic venue and despite the weather, our spirits were certainly not dampened, but the clothes of some other petrol heads were- T-shirts and sandals in the bog like conditions underfoot is NOT recommended. F1 resumes today after the traditional Red Arrows demonstration, and I will have another update tomorrow when I will be back at home this evening.

Enjoy the race!

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