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Paddock Postcard from Great Britain

05 Jul 2015

With three English drivers on the grid and the majority of the teams based in the UK, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone is always a special event on the Formula One calendar - and this year has proved no exception.

The festivities started early for local hero and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, who on Thursday picked up the Hawthorn Memorial Trophy, which is awarded annually to the most successful British or Commonwealth driver in the previous year’s F1 drivers’ championship.

It was first presented by the Hawthorn family in memory of Mike Hawthorn, who became Britain's first world champion in 1958 but tragically died a year later. This Sunday, July 5, marks 62 years since Hawthorn won his first Grand Prix, at Reims in France in 1953.

“This trophy is full of class,” said Hamilton. “It’s real silverware with a great history and that’s what I race for; this is the best reward you can get for winning. It’s real and it’s what you have to show for all your efforts, so I’m very grateful to receive it.”

There was more F1 silverware on display at Silverstone in a special, free exhibition marking ‘65 Years of F1’, where visiting fans were also treated to fascinating displays of milestone F1 machinery and memorabilia, as well as some of the sport’s most iconic photos, courtesy of renowned motorsport photographers Sutton Images.

Graced by the Royal presence of Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, the paddock bustled with activity throughout the weekend. Familiar faces included world champions Sir Jackie Stewart, driver steward Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve, Sir Patrick and Lady Head, Howden Ganley, Tyler Alexander, who was revealing his new autobiography, Freddie Hunt, Brigitte Hill. Derek Warwick made a welcome appearance, and during a barbecue on Friday evening the British Racing Drivers Club revealed dramatic plans for a Silverstone Heritage facility.

On track Sergey Sirotkin took pole position and then scored his first GP2 victory in Saturday’s feature race.

Status’s Richie Stanaway grabbed the initiative at the start, bursting between the Russian’s Rapax machine and ART’s championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne, but the New Zealander’s skilful getaway was instantly negated when Lazarus’s Nathaniel Berthon spun, collected Russian Time’s Artem Markelov and triggered a safety car deployment. On the restart Sirotkin squeezed by Stanaway at Club even before the second lap was over and as Stanaway lost momentum ART’s fast-starting Nobuharu Matsushita also went through.

Sirotkin instantly pulled away, but Matsushita soon retired with engine problems, leaving Racing Engineering’s Alex Rossi to drive a very strong race to second ahead of Vandoorne.

DAMS picked up fourth courtesy of Pierre Gasly, as team mate Alex Lynn did an excellent job to haul up from a lowly 12th in qualifying to fifth. Sixth should have fallen to Rossi’s team mate Jordan King, who did an early tyre stop and was on great form as he ran as high as third before the later stoppers overhauled him on their fresher rubber. He had Campos’s Arthur Pic covered until the Frenchman tapped him into a spin exiting Club on the final lap. As King’s great defensive drive ended with 22nd place, Pic lost sixth when he was given a 20-second time penalty which dropped him to 14th.

Musically, the weekend kicked off on Thursday with a gig by Madness, as part of their Grandslam Madness tour, followed by Deacon Blue, Nik Kershaw, Shola Ama and Jocelyn Brown on Friday and Starsailor on Saturday. Britain’s Got Talent judge Alesha Dixon will sing the national anthem and headline the traditional post-race finale, supported by Jake Quickenden and the RPJ Band.