Formula 1 World Championship 2002 - Round 10
Silverstone, Great Britain




I've mentioned in several places on this site that this year I was boycotting the British Grand Prix in protest at Octagon's decision to decrease capacity while increasing ticket prices to ensure their receipts were unaffected and, more particularly, to limit availability to 3-day tickets only. I've also been heard to say, to friends who couldn't quite believe I wouldn't go, that the only way I'd go to Silverstone this year was if I got a free ticket from Octagon.

Well, strange things happen in Formula 1 ... thanks to FOSA who were on the receiving end of six complimentary tickets and (somewhat grudgingly) to Octagon who provided them, on Friday morning I found myself in possession of a free ticket from Octagon! So 4am Sunday morning, I set off to test the new traffic system ... and you know, it worked brilliantly, helped in part by the Media car pass which Georgio (FOSA President) managed to include with my ticket!

No traffic queues meant I was at the circuit before 6am and made my way to the banking at the end of the Maggots/Becketts sweep ... those of you who've been to Silverstone will recall how cold it can be early in the morning. The wind whistles across the old airfield, Radio Silverstone (now rechristened Radio Octane) has yet to start broadcasting, and just for a while, you wonder what the hell you're doing there sitting huddled on a bank ... shivering!

Click pictures to enlarge

Button

Jenson Button, Renault (Warm Up)

Webber

Mark Webber, Minardi Asiatech

Montoya

Juan Pablo Montoya, BMW Williams

F3

F3 International Challenge

Barrichello

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (Race)

Villeneuve

Jacques Villeneuve, BAR Honda

Panis

Olivier Panis, BAR Honda

Montoya

Juan Pablo Montoya, BMW Williams

Villeneuve

Jacques Villeneuve on his way to 4th

After a while though the memories of past years start playing in your head and the anticipation starts to build. It was still a long two hours before the track inspection signalled the imminent start of warm up ... shame the weather didn't have the same idea. The clouds were still low, very few helicopters making their way through the murk, and I discovered a flaw with my new camera ... it struggles to focus in poor light conditions. That's my excuse anyway for the rather grainy quality of most of my pictures on this occasion!

I originally had vague intentions of moving on to Club for the Race (watching from Club has become something of a tradition in recent years), but I'd got chatting to the guys around me, there was a giant TV screen immediately behind me and I really couldn't be bothered to move! And that's my excuse for the lack of variety in the pictures you see here! I did hike as far as Stowe in search of loos, definitely fewer and further in between this year ... apparently only those with grandstand tickets actually need the loo as they were exclusively located behind the stands.

We had the excitement of the drivers parade to keep us entertained ... I speak somewhat tongue in cheek here ... 21 drivers (minus Alex Yoong who failed to qualify) on the back of a low loader doesn't have quite the style that Montreal achieved with a parade of Austin Healeys, one per driver. Then the F3 International Challenge hit the track ... had my programme not been missing its race card, I might have been able to put names to some of the drivers pictured here, but it was nonetheless an enjoyable and closely fought race.

The cloud eventually lifted enough for the helicopters to arrive en masse, but the delay meant the cancellation of the Red Arrows traditional display as priority had to go to getting all those VIPs safely in their seats before the Race! Poor old Bernie meanwhile had to land at a nearby airfield and come the rest of the way by car ... his driver got lost twice on route, although quite how he managed that with the hundreds of signs scattering the countryside I will never know. Bernie however, unused to such indignity, gave vent to his frustration by trashing the race organisation. I'm somewhat surprised to find myself coming out on the side of Octagon in this, but I have to say that they did a good job this year and Bernie's comments, which led to the resignation through sheer frustration of Octagon Chief Exec, Rob Bain, were in my opinion totally unjustified.

When the pit lane opened, Panis got as far as the exit before his BAR died (for the third time this weekend) ... and we thus again witnessed the sight of an F1 driver pushing his car back up the pit lane without outside assistance, as both Frentzen and Bernoldi had had to do on Saturday. The usual burst of installation laps died away as the grid formed and the pit lane closed. The minutes ticked away, large numbers of people were still walking purposefully round the circuit heading who knows where, but fortunately most of them stopped to watch when the scream of the engines approached ... the cars first come into sight exiting Copse in the far distance and you see them snaking left, right, left through Maggots and Becketts, growing ever louder ... then they're roaring past into Chapel and the sound dies away ... then one last car comes haring past, Barrichello trying to catch up to the back of the pack after stalling on the grid. How many of you shared my initial (cynical) thought when they first saw his hand go up ... ah, so that's Ferrari's new tactic to avoid issuing team orders!

As we waited for the lights to come on, the first spots of rain fell ... and the race, as you will all know by now, became a lottery ... the result dictated more by tyres than the skill of the drivers, although without doubt there were some very skillful performances. To pick out a few highlights ... Barrichello storming through the field, every lap he'd moved past one or more cars, his progress only halted (temporarily) when he came up behind Button who, conscious of his need to secure a seat for next year, made Rubens work for the place far more than he has with other drivers in earlier races. Button himself, had a great start, making up four places by the first corner, but suffered from being on Michelins once the rain set in and eventually retired five laps from the end, to be classified 12th. Kimi and Frentzen, to name but two, were driving brilliantly until their engines let go. BAR finally scored their first points of the season, coming home in 4th (Villeneuve) and 5th (Panis). Montoya finally converted a pole position (and what a pole lap that was!) into a podium, shame it was the bottom step!

All in all, a great race ... and the sun came out a couple of minutes after the podium ceremony!

Full race results can be found here

Sato

Takuma Sato, Jordan Honda

Coulthard

David Coulthard, McLaren Mercedes

de la Rosa

Pedro de la Rosa, Jaguar Cosworth

F3

F3 International Challenge

Ralf

Ralf Schumacher, BMW Williams

Schumacher

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari

Sato

Takuma Sato, Jordan Honda

Montoya/Barrichello

Montoya and Barrichello fight for 2nd

Schumacher

Michael Schumacher - Victory Lap

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