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Paddock Postcard from Silverstone

06 Jul 2014

Befitting this year’s British Grand Prix’s status as the 50th such race to be held at Silverstone since Luigi Villoresi won the first-ever event on October 2nd 1948, two years before the inauguration of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the atmosphere was one of spectacular celebration of the sport.

As ever, the paddock teemed with famous faces from motor racing and other arenas.

Paul di Resta hung out with multiple Indianapolis 500-winning cousin Dario Franchitti, Robin Brundle, Gordon Message and Rupert Manwaring greeted old friends, as did engineers Sergio Rinland, Frank Dernie and Enrique Scalabroni, while actor Michael Fassbender refuelled his need for speed as did Peter Hain, while multiple TT-winning hero John McGuiness enjoyed his visit to a world that is so very different to his own unique high-wire act.

Tyler Alexander made a welcome return at McLaren after his recent illness, and veteran reporter Alan Henry also paid a visit. Great Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne was also present, as was Ron Dennis’s original business partner Neil Trundle.

Bernie Ecclestone helped announce the new Formula Kart Stars series which caters for drivers aged eight to 16 across four classes, and will feature controlled costs and equipment, with a unique prize structure that will ensure a level playing field, allowing talent to shine through. The series will start in the UK in April 2015, with global championships starting from 2016 mainly in Grand Prix-hosting nations.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing also revealed Briton William Priest from Chesham and Americans Eric La Roche from New Jersey and Jason Zide from Laguna Beach as the three winners of their inaugural Infiniti Academy F1 worldwide search for new engineering talent.

There were celebrations at Williams as Felipe Massa marked his 200th Grand Prix start, and cakes appeared at Red Bull for Daniel Ricciardo’s and Sebastian Vettel’s birthdays. The current World Cup competition meant an obvious presence of football shirts in the paddock, while Thursday evening’s concert by the Kaiser Chief added a welcome musical element.

Veterans from the sport’s history took part in hugely popular parades of historic race vehicles. Sir Jackie Stewart drove the Matra MS80 with which he won the 1969 British Grand Prix, as son Paul handled his Tyrrell 006 and 1995 race winner Johnny Herbert sampled a similar version.

Nigel Mansell participated and Alain Prost tried Mark Webber’s 2012 race-winning Red Bull RB8. To his delight, 1975 winner Emerson Fittipaldi was reunited with his 1974 world championship-winning McLaren M23.

Damon Hill went back in time in his father Graham’s 1968 Lotus 49B, David Coulthard had a Red Bull RB8, and Rubens Barrichello had a Williams FW07B in tribute to Clay Regazzoni’s breakthrough 1979 British Grand Prix-winning FW07.

BRDC president Derek Warwick handled a McLaren M29C, Martin Brundle James Hunt’s 1977 race-winning M26, Dario Franchitti his hero Jim Clark’s 1963 race-winning Lotus 25 and Jackie Oliver the Scot’s 1965 race-winning 33.

Poignantly, David Brabham drove his late father Sir Jack’s 1960 race-winning Cooper Climax T53 and Red Bull design guru Adrian Newey ran Ronnie Peterson’s March 711 with which the Swede finished second to Stewart in the 1971 race.

Besides the Grand Prix itself there was plenty of on-track action, including in GP2, where Mitch Evans took a maiden victory in Saturday’s feature race, despite fierce challenges from British opponents.

New Zealander Evans got the undercut on series and race leader Jolyon Palmer during the mandatory pit stops and put his Russian Time Car ahead of the Briton’s DAMS machine, after early leader Raffaele Marciello had been forced to retire his Racing Engineering car.

ART's Stoffel Vandoorne, a McLaren young driver, took the final podium slot with Carlin’s Julian Leal taking a fighting fourth from Marciello’s team mate Stefano Coletti. Johnny Cecotto Jnr’s Trident machine was sixth, Carlin’s Felipe Nasr seventh after a slow pit stop, and Palmer’s team mate Stephane Richelmi eighth, putting him on pole for Sunday’s sprint race.