A wing and a prayer
So what a brave new world we now live in. A shiny new behemoth of a building has been built at the far end of a World War 2 bomber base and the UK finally has a ‘world class’ Formula 1 venue.
Gushing endlessly all weekend, the BBC TV presenters informed the masses about just how Silverstone is ‘the’ race of the year, all others paling into insignificance compared with this magical place.
Of course I’m being disingenuous. The British Grand Prix – at Silverstone, Brands Hatch, Aintree or Brooklands – has and always will be one of the sport’s big races. How could it not be? The motor racing world has deep-seated roots in Britain, and the F1 World Championship itself began here in Northamptonshire.
These are important facts to remember, and ‘we’ can be proud of our country’s place in the history of the sport, but some sense of reality (and a less jingoistic attitude) would also be appropriate. The British event is part of a championship, as is China’s, Belgium’s, Malaysia’s or Korea’s. The points on offer to the teams and drivers don’t differ with the colour of the country’s flag.
As in every sporting championship’s season there are venues that are special. For all the obvious reasons drivers crave a grand prix win at Monaco considerably more than they do at Melbourne, for example, but when the 2011 champion is crowned, he’ll count the points he scored at both the ‘big’ and not so big grands prix.
Silverstone’s efforts to improve their sporting arena are to be applauded. The ‘Wing’ building is certainly impressive, making a strong statement of intent, and once new grandstands, bridges and car parks are in place the circuit will be up there with the best.
As a photographer I doubt the flat and somewhat featureless circuit will ever match up to the more scenic tracks we visit, but since good photographers find good places to shoot that shouldn’t be a gripe. Mind you, a little less scaffolding and lot fewer visible portaloos around the place might make one’s job a little easier!
Standing in the photographers’ bunker at Copse corner on Friday afternoon was a slightly strange experience. Being at the top of the circuit where so much used to happen – and now doesn’t – made one appreciate what went before.
That’s progress, I guess.