2012 British Grand Prix: preview

It is THE weekend of the year for the Sunday Afternoon Club. The one weekend we think about moving off the sofa to actually go and watch some Grand Prix cars; live, for real, in the flesh. Yup, it’s British GP Weekend: the one occassion we are prepared to risk blowing apart our fondly-held illusion that F1 racing is glamorous and sexy, and instead endure mud, stinking bogs and fantastically sub-standard catering. Oh yes, Silverstone, we love you.

The weather forecast ain’t good. The car parks in Northampton are already on ‘amber alert’ and ‘The Silverstone Contingency Plan’ is being readied. With no Glastonbury this year, get set for a rash of mud-monster pictures in the Daily Mail. Sadly they will be of hardcore British race fans, not Kate Moss.

Sky and the BBC are engaged into a right royal battle for the public’s affections and each is already mounting a charm offensive on Twitter. This could be your best chance yet to meet JakeDavidEddie or MartinDavidTed, as they wander hopefully around the campsites affirming their ‘men of the people’ credentials.

Damon Hill, meanwhile, is working hard on a new look, dying his ‘silver fox’ locks black and losing the beard. He thought this the best course of action, having earlier this week contemplated a drop in the national speed limit to 55mph because he considers none of us competent to handle a car at 70mph. A quick poll we conducted this morning suggested absolutely nobody planning to visit Silverstone this weekend supported him.

On the track, look out for something familiar on the sides of the Lotus E20. Batman. The team has done another of its ‘for one weekend only’ tie-ups, this time to promote The Dark Night Rises, what with their cars being black and everything. Bruce Wayne drives a Lamborghini in the movie, by the way.

The rear of Romain Grosjean’s Lotus E20 might be sporting some tin-can shaped aerodynamic aids as the charming Swiss-Frenchman has married since the last race in Valencia, a race Grosjean might have won had his Renault engine’s alternator not packed up.

(Oh, and take note of anyone you see Paul di Resta talking to. He’s split from his manager Anthony Hamilton, aka Lewis’s Dad. It is rumoured Di Resta is being lined up to replace Michael Schumacher, whose return to the podium has come too late to convince Mercedes it wants to continue its ‘Senior’ programme beyond Schu’s contract end at the close of this season).

The Red Bull RB8 cars will also look a little different. If you got in soon enough, your face could star in Sunday’s F1 action with both Vettel and Webber’s cars carrying thousands of little pictures of donators to its Faces for Charity campaign. The campaign has raised over £600,000 for Red Bull’s ‘Wings for Life’ spinal chord research charity. Cute idea.

McLaren meanwhile believes the speed the RB8s showed at Valencia was ‘venue specific’ and does not expect them to disappear over the horizon. That will no doubt calm Jenson Button, who is coming to terms with learning it’s his habit of braking earlier and carrying more speed into a corner that’s causing his tyre problems. Lewis’s more banzai approach to braking points gets heat in to the front tyres more quickly. It was the opposite on last year’s rubber.

Are McLaren fast enough to win? Well, it’s tradition at the Sunday Afternoon Club to make clear it never makes predictions and then make one. Vettel, Hamilton and, of course Alonso are all on short-odds at the bookies. If you want to consider something longer we reckon it’ll be Fast Pastor Maldonado in the Williams-Renault this weekend, and not Clumsy Pastor Maldonado of Monaco and Valencia.

Lastly, we don’t need to tell you to throw a bit of extra support at Marussia. We wish Maria and all of the team the very best on what will be a difficult weekend.

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