Depart home on the Belgian/Dutch/German borders at 6am and head for Calais and the British Grand Prix by car with Eurotunnel: It proves a wise decision given the massive disruptions to air travel and rip-off prices of rental cars. I spend the night in London at the invitation of my good friend Cedric Selzer – Jim Clark's chief mechanic during the Scot's 1963 World Championship season – and it's good to catch up on F1 gossip.
Travel the 100km to Silverstone, arriving shortly before noon. The circuit has excelled itself on the media front: Check-in is fast and efficient, the media cafe's offerings very tasty, and the wifi reliable and fast. That is all we ask for in order to bring the latest news to you ASAP, but it's amazing how many circuits – Monaco is the worst – fall well short. The afternoon brings all change: where someone earlier this year had the hairbrained idea of squeezing all driver media activities into four FIA sessions on Friday mornings ahead of the day's first practice, after realisation hit the teams that reportage was vastly diminished we now have a hybrid format: five drivers appearing in each of two FIA sessions on Thursdays, and the balance conducting team media calls. A return to the pre-Covid format of Thursday team sessions for all 20 drivers would be too much of an admission so a compromise it is…
Coulthard launches More Than Equal
After the afternoon's sessions are done, I head for the Silverstone Museum for the launch of More Than Equal, a non-profit initiative aimed at developing F1's first female Grand Prix winner and champion . The brainchild of 13-time Grand Prix winner and W Series co-founder David Coulthard and Czech tech tycoon Karel Komarek, MTE will provide funding and development support to young females with world class potential and talent. This worthy concept complements Alpine F1's Rac(H)er academy announced earlier in the day, and I'm sure there will be more such projects in future. I expect to see the first blossoming fruits within eight to 10 years – about the time currently taken by (male) kids to progress from karting to F1 provided the necessary talent is there.
Early morning meeting with DC and Karel to fully understand the model behind MTE: they are actively seeking commercial partners and have contracted wellness specialists Hintsa, who guide 90 per cent of current F1 drivers on the fitness, mental conditioning and nutritional needs to sustain top level performances. Pre-FP1, I walk up to the British Race Drivers' Club clubhouse to attend the unveiling of a statue dedicated to the memory of Sir Stirling Moss, the legendary British driver who passed in April 2020. Encouragingly, various F1 luminaries, including World Champions Nigel Mansell, Jenson Button and Damon Hill, plus the likes of Martin Brundle and BRDC president David Coulthard, are in attendance. While there I discover local police have credible information about a planned track invasion on Sunday by environmentalists. Forewarned is forearmed they say, but should such a protest eventuate it won't be the first time loonies have demonstrated at this venue: In 2003 a banner-waving deranged priest took to the track, endangering the life of Mark Webber, who was first on the scene. Talking environmental, I note the banners proclaiming F1 Net Zero 2030 – the sport's ambitious plans to be net carbon neutral by that date – display both FIA and F1 logos where more usually it is one or the other. When I check it out both sides claim credit for the dual 'locked-in' logo, leading me to recall the saying: 'Success has many fathers and failure is an orphan…'
Pre-Covid traditions return
After the day's proceedings and media sessions I head for the 'Farm', a patch of land situated in the inner circuit formerly used by the BRDC for agricultural purposes, but now a recreation and camping area for members. Pre-Covid, the club invited Guild of Motoring Writers members to a BBQ on Friday evening, and it's great to see the tradition has returned this year. A wonderful statue of Niki Lauda stands at the entrance to welcome us. While there I learn of plans for a global exhibition company to stage a series of F1 expos in major centres across the globe. Although details remain sketchy, I believe around seven cities across the globe – New York, London, Madrid and Amsterdam amongst them – will host exhibitions, each lasting around three months and charting the history of the sport via audio-visuals, memorabilia and cut-aways of F1 technologies. After the BBQ I return to my B&B situated around 25km away via some scenic back roads. It's been a real fun day at the home of British motorsport.