British Grand Prix, Sunday 6th July
Silverstone ‘94. Now there’s a something that evokes some serious memories.
1994 was, of course, the year Aerosmith’s classic video accompanying their song Crazy hit MTV’s screens. Its star was the ultimate object of teenaged lust and desire, Alicia Silverstone.
I have to confess the part of my home-recorded ‘best of 1994’ VHS tape which features this Silverstone video is all but worn away. Meanwhile the Grand Prix that goes by the same name, and can be found midway through my ‘180-minute Scotch Lifetime Guarantee’ cassette, remains pristine.
It shows Damon Hill driving off into the distance ultimately scoring by over a minute in a race where 22 cars were lapped. There wasn’t a World Champion in the entire field.
The highlight was HRH Princess Diana presenting the winner’s trophy. The problem was she wasn’t really a HRH then having formally separated from the [royal] family 19 months beforehand.
Nevertheless, as the promotion of a British product now worth £2 billion annually in revenue, her efforts even as a non-royal, were a watershed moment.
I’m already questioning who are we going to send to represent the United Kingdom this year? In 2012 Italian Frankie Dettori, with his list of convictions for drug use and politician Kenneth Clarke fulfilled the roll. Clarke has actually been generically dispatched to represent Queen and country for the past two decades.
Last year, with a liberal sprinkling of the royal family opting to watch the well-known Scottish Referendum YES vote advocate Andy Murray play in the Wimbledon final there were no royal’s or a Prime Minister in attendance once again.
In mitigation, if you did not blink you may have seen Prince Michael of Kent at the Silverstone circuit 24-hours before race day. Does anyone have the faintest idea what his relationship is to HM the Queen? It is distant enough to mean he is not considered to carryout approved royal duties domestically. Although, in some instances, foreign commonwealth countries are given him.
So his visit was not on an official basis rather a personal commercial one. Managing a consultancy business, a Freemason, fluent in Russian with Sputnick blood flowing through his veins, maybe he was shooting for Graeme Lowden’s CEO job at the Marussia team.
Alas, the best British ambassadors Formula 1 could muster last year were
actor Rupert Grint (never heard of him but I’ve never watched a Harry Potter film either); model Jodie Kidd (fresh from her appearance in Celebrity Antiques Road Trip – better known for selling and supplying something other than antiques); Amanda Holden (not certain what she did before becoming a panellist on Britain’s Got Talent or how she got that job); 70’s musician Leo Sayer (who loves his country so much he moved to the other side of the world and became a naturalised Australian), singer Geri Halliwell (a standout as Nelson Mandela described meeting the Spice Girls in 1997 – not being release from 27 years imprisonment – as the best day of his life); Goldie (who I think is the dog from Blue Peter); a pair of chefs, James Martin and Nathan Outlaw (never heard of ‘em) and politician Peter Hain (never want to hear of him).
Resultantly the starting grid looked like a refugee column of folk that had been and that wanted to be …but failed.
Admittedly Northampton is not Monte Carlo where an itinerant collection of mega-wealthy wasters, drifters and self-delusionists can fill the starting grid with consummate ease. But, when it is all said and done, only a few of the characters listed above would be known outside the bounds of a mindless British televisual wasteland.
So who will be the highest profile British global brand ambassador on display at Silverstone this Sunday? I’m going 500/1 HM the Queen. After all she will doubtlessly be very tired following seven days of official horseracing engagements during June.
Furthermore she is still probably irked at Bernie Ecclestone suggesting he makes a racetrack out of her driveway by tabling a London City Grand Prix. Not the kind of horsepower one appreciates.
It has to be said Prince Harry is a contender, albeit a big outsider, and so from a royal standpoint Clare Balding OBE will be the closest we will get to a royal visitor popping up. Let’s face it she pops up at most places.
Historically, before disappearing into the night due to over-exposure, female television presenters (Anthea Turner, Ulrika Jonsson, Carol Smillie, Selina Scott, Claire Sweeny et-al) have had the girl-next-door appeal. Balding, who Queenie reportedly dotes on, doesn’t. Unless you live next door to a castle that is!
With what was a banker bet, athlete Jessica Ennis, unavailable due to child birth commitments I’m now predicting the highest profile celebrity to appear on BBC’s F1 coverage to be Rowan Atkinson closely followed by Jeremy Clarkson. On the other side, presenter Kirsty Gallagher is a possible for SKY F1 allied to the requisite little known actor and a soupcon of celebrity cooks.
In all seriousness there is an irony that, in a year when Lewis Hamilton will be crowned Britain’s Sports Personality of the Year, Formula 1 is still ignored by those who are supposed to embrace such a valuable global sport and industry.
Bookmakers and pundits continue to embrace Felipe Massa. Pundits I understand – not prepared to state the blatantly obvious in fear of alienating themselves from teams and drivers – but what are the bookmaker’s thinking?
Odds of 2-7 about the Brazilian, who built up a losing sequence that made him Ferrari’s most unsuccessful driver ever, finishing in the top 6 at Silverstone? I was surprised he finished as high as fourth after starting on pole in Austria last time out. That was his first top-six finish in 11 races. Since when does a one-from-eleven strike rate make a contestant a 2-7 shot?
Conversely Fernando Alonso is exceptional here and outstanding value at 4/9 for a top-six finish. The Spaniard boasts six podium finishes from his last nine Silverstone visits (including the last three years) whilst also setting the fastest lap in both 2010 and 2011. Additionally Alonso has finished in the top-six of all but one of this season’s races.
In the current climate – the Mercedes team being unopposable – I very much like the ‘top-six’ betting market and within it will also be wading into the 7/4 available about Nico Hulkenberg. His Force India car should be more at home here than it was in Austria (or Canada) and so there is every chance he can add to his already impressive record of scoring points in every race this season, that includes six top-six finishes.
Whilst there have been eight different winners of the British Grand Prix in the past ten years there have been no real surprise victors. However, notably, since the circuit had a configuration change in 2010 no pole-setter has won the race. In the same period the safety car has been needed twice and the winning margin was above three seconds just once.
Compare all the latest betting odds on the British Grand Prix from Silverstone here…
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