Boss Phillips keeping job after British GP chaos

Silverstone chief Richard Phillips has revealed he is not quitting in the wake of last weekend’s chaotic British grand prix.

Bernie Ecclestone blamed the torrential English weather, but some fans were angry at the organisers of the event amid the mud, parking and traffic chaos. Refunding money to paying spectators told to stay away on Saturday will cost Silverstone millions of pounds, but managing director Richard Phillips said he is staying put.

“I did think ‘should I be in charge? Is it sustainable?’ he told the Daily Mail. “But I have always wanted to see it through. I love this place, there is a long way to go with it, we have come a long way but it’s a great circuit and I am lucky to have the job I have got, I would love to be here next year,” added Phillips.


Maldonado fined for Perez incident

Pastor Maldonado has been fined 10,000 Euro for clashing with Sergio Perez during the British Grand Prix as well as a reprimand.

The British Grand Prix stewards deemed that the Williams driver was guilty of causing a collision and because of the serious nature of the incident, he was given both a fine and a reprimand.

The pair made contact early on in the race whilst fighting for position at Brooklands.

Perez was furious at the Venezuelan driver, calling on the FIA to take action against him.

“I really hope the stewards can make something because the last three or four races he has done something,” Perez commented. “It is not the first time he has damaged my weekend. He did the same with Lewis in Valencia and they gave him a drivethrough – which I think is not enough.

“This guy will never learn if they won’t do something because he is a very dangerous driver and he can hurt someone.”

Kobayashi fined for British GP pitlane incident

Kamui Kobayashi has apologised to his pit crew after he braked too late during a British Grand Prix pit stop and knocked three of them over.

“The accident was my fault and I want to apologise to the team,” Kobayashi said. “Of course I had to push hard for points but without doubt I braked too late in the pitlane. The front wheels locked; I couldn’t control the car and this is how I overshot the pit box.

“I am terribly sorry this happened and I hope the three mechanics I hit get well soon.”

Two of the team are reported to have been taken to the medical centre for treatment – one for a dislocated thumb and one for cuts and bruises. A third mechanic is reported to have sustained a bruised foot which was treated in the Sauber garage.

The FIA have deemed the incident an “unsafe manoeuvre in the pits” and have fined the Japanese driver 25,000 Euro.

Ticket refunds could cost Silverstone millions

This weekend’s British grand prix debacle could cost Silverstone millions, track boss Richard Phillips has admitted after organisers vowed to refund spectators who stayed away from the circuit during qualifying on Saturday after plea’s from the circuit.

“It’s going to cost us a lot of money,” he told the Guardian. “I honestly don’t know the figure, but it could be a lot more than hundreds of thousands (of pounds).”

Phillips did, however, hail the patience and perseverance of the Silverstone crowd, after an ordeal that was recognised even from within the F1 paddock.

“I saw fathers with their sons and daughters, old ladies with backpacks and teenagers, all covered in mud and wearing their coats and hats,” said O Estado de S.Paulo correspondent Livio Oricchio. “I have never seen anything like this country. They are the best fans,” said the Brazilian correspondent.

Mercedes’ Norbert Haug agreed.

“They are the best fans in the world,” said the German. “They have taken everything – the rain, the cold – and they still came in their thousands.”


The sounds of knives being sharpened at McLaren?

Today’s British Grand Prix was an entertaining affair. Won by the excellent Mark Webber, it provided wheel-banging action and excitement at the denouement, if in slightly smaller doses than has been normal this season. The affable Australian’s win will be a popular one, given the respect in which he is held in the paddock and throughout the F1 world. And, too, amongst the wonderful fans whose patience and commitment had sorely been tested this weekend.

But a considerable number of those gathered, judging by the Vodafone caps on the pit straight after the race, would have preferred a McLaren to win the British Grand Prix. But they didn’t. Not nearly. McLaren were nowhere near the race-winning pace today, and seem to have been out of sorts for a while.

Let us count the woes. Firstly, there’s that lack of pace. As a number of observers have pointed out, McLaren had what was widely considered to be the fastest car at the start of the season, when Button duly won the first race in Australia. Since then, they have been there or thereabouts, the other highlight being Hamilton’s Canada win. Button has been well off the pace for the last three grands prix at least, and a case could be made that it is only Hamilton’s residual brilliance that has made them at all competitive recently. This is McLaren: they should be running with Ferrari and Red Bull, not Sauber and Williams. Button nails it in his press release today; ‘it was good to get a point in my Grand Prix, but of course that’s not what we ought to be doing: we’re a front-running team and we’ve got a bit of work to do to start running at the front again. I don’t think we made any mistakes with our strategy today; we’re just not quite quick enough at the moment, that’s all.’

This is obviously the biggest issue, because they are losing ground in the championship – even in this most unpredictable of years. The famed McLaren ability to develop a car through a season has not yet been in evidence, and the concern for the design team will be that as they slip further behind, the call for a panacea upgrade package becomes ever more shrill. As has been noted countless times, significant upgrade packages can go one way or another – as they often interfere with the delicate balance of the machine.

Secondly, there’s the pit stop issues. Nothing went amiss today, but McLaren’s 2012 pit stops, especially with Hamilton, can best be described as inconsistent. No one can be to blame in such a high pressure three second period, of course, but the simple reality is that delays in the pit lose drivers time and positions and ultimately points. And few other teams, crucially, have made as many errors as McLaren. Pace Sauber, with Kobayashi’s error today; thankfully no serious injuries.

Back to the case in hand. Martin Whitmarsh’s post-race comments provide some insight. “A dry race wasn’t what we were expecting and, undoubtedly, had it been a wet race, as was predicted, our competitiveness relative to that of our opposition would have been significantly enhanced,” he begins. This sounds unconvincing at best, and at worst, suspiciously like an excuse. Compare it to Lewis’ second sentence in the press release: ‘We tried as hard as we could, but we simply didn’t have the pace this afternoon,’ and his body language in the interviews on TV. The driver clearly has no idea why the car is not quick enough – whereas the team principal ascribes it to a wet setup. Surely one of the drivers, had this been truly the source of the problem, would have mentioned it.

All of which leads to the question of what will be done. McLaren are under serious pressure now – not the drivers, for once, but the team. Expect knives to be sharpened unless there is a radical improvement at Woking.

Webber bites chunk out of Alonso’s title lead

Mark Webber took a seven-point bite out of Fernando Alonso’s title lead on Sunday by winning at Silverstone.

Red Bull’s speed over the rest of the field was not as stark as two weeks ago at Valencia, but in the closing laps Spaniard Alonso could not hold his lead of the race to the charging Australian.

Ferrari driver Alonso’s 20-point lead over Webber was therefore cut to thirteen in Britain, at the mid-point of the thrilling 2012 season.

“We lost some points to Mark but we gained some points to the rest of the field,” said Alonso.

Told on the podium by Sir Jackie Stewart that at least he still has the championship lead, the two-time title winner agreed: “Yes, that’s the main target.”

Ferrari’s improvement since Australia has been staggering, but team boss Stefano Domenicali insisted there will be be no resting on these laurels.

“We are at the crucial part of the season,” he told BBC television, “and we need to keep the pace and keep working because the others are very strong.”

Race winner Webber not only took a bite out of the championship lead on Sunday, he might also have sealed the lid on his 2013 contract.

“Mark is doing a great job for us,” agreed team boss Christian Horner after Sunday’s race, “we love having him in the team.

“We have agreed to sit down (for talks) in the next couple of weeks.”

Unlikely to be sitting down for a civil chat, however, are Sergio Perez and Pastor Maldonado, the Mexican slamming his Venezuelan rival as a “stupid driver” after their clash.


Ecclestone tells friends to skip Silverstone

Bernie Ecclestone has admitted he has told his friends to stay away from Silverstone.

As weather forecasters predict another wet day in rural Northamptonshire, organisers of the British grand prix are at least urging spectators to battle the mud and the traffic to attend on Sunday. And although qualifying was red-flagged for a long time on Saturday, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone insists he is “not worried” the race might have to be called off.

“The race will go on — we will do our job and it promises to be a great race,” he told the Daily Mail.”But I am worried about the weather and the fans. I don’t want a repeat of Friday’s scenes, but the forecast for Sunday is bad and we are expecting more people than on any other day.

“This is why I’ve told all my friends not to come. It feels strange telling them that, but I am thinking of them,” said the 81-year-old.

The Times journalist Kevin Eason surmised the prospect for Sunday: “It will be a day for heroes and wellingtons.”

And the Mirror’s Byron Young wittily tweeted early on Sunday morning as he packed his bag: “Computer (tick), phone (tick), wellies (tick), patience (tick), umbrella (tick), goggles (tick), snorkel (tick)”.


Ecclestone defends Silverstone amid weather chaos

On a long and trying day at sodden Silverstone, Bernie Ecclestone has defended the organisers of the British grand prix.

Up to 30,000 paying spectators had been told to stay at home on Saturday, as Silverstone struggles to cope with quagmire carparks and traffic logjams.

Qualifying faced a long mid-Q2 delay due to torrential rain and aquaplaning, Lewis Hamilton earlier warning some parts of the layout feature apparently “no drainage”.

“That would be a good improvement for next year,” he said.

But although historically critical of Silverstone – having once slammed the British grand prix as a “country fair masquerading as a world-class event” – F1 chief executive stunned sections of the paddock on Saturday by defending the venue.

“I’m really, really upset for the fans, but in reality if it was you running the race what would you do?” he is quoted by the BBC. “They probably couldn’t predict the rain.”

Ecclestone said wellington boots are not only needed at Silverstone at present, having seen television footage around England of “houses flooded, shops flooded, people abandoning cars”.


A soggy start to the British Grand Prix

It has been a soggy start to the British Grand Prix with thousands of fans left disappointed as they were warned to stay away from the circuit.

Torrential downpours have marred the weekend so far turning car parks and campsites into quagmires. 4×4 vehicles were seen to be helping tow some stranded vehicles out of exceptionally muddy car parks.

Problems at the track started when 40mm of rain fell in just 12 hours. By the middle of the afternoon, all campsites had closed to traffic. Those who had bought tickets for on-site parking were warned not to turn up. Silverstone managing director Richard Phillips issued an ‘unreserved apology’ to ticket holders and added that he had almost been reduced to tears over the issue.

Mr Phillips added that it is likely to cost up to seven figures and they will be offering refunds to anyone who was able to get in.

“It’s going to cost us a lot of money,” Mr Phillips said. “I honestly don’t know the figure, but it could be a lot more than hundreds of thousands. For people who did not get in we’re offering refunds, and for anybody who doesn’t get in we’ll be offering refunds as well.

“Right now we’re trying to get ourselves into a situation to get in as many people as we can from a position of devastation. But I unreservedly apologise to people. I feel very responsible for it, this is something I’ve been very proud of over the years and I almost could cry now.”

It is hoped that the car parks will be dry enough to reopen for the race tomorrow.

Silverstone braced for torrential rain

Silverstone is braced for a soaking wet British grand prix, as torrential rain greeted the sunrise on the opening day of 2012 action.

Paul di Resta on Thursday had already advised his fans to pack their “rain jackets”, because “it looks like they’re going to get wet.” Perhaps he had read about race organisers spreading 1000 tonnes of hardcore across vulnerable roads and carparks around the Northamptonshire venue. Or maybe he has seen the severe storm warning, or the forecast of a month’s worth of rain in the space of two days.

Jenson Button is worried sodden fans will suffer through the rain during practice only to find the drivers are huddled under the cover of the pits.

“We are so limited on our tyre allocation that we are not going to run much,” he told reporters on Thursday. “We will do our best but there will not be much going on.”

Sebastian Vettel agreed: “We need to find a balance between practicing enough to set up the car and evaluate the new parts but saving tyres as much as we can for qualifying and the race.”

As for the spectators, the signs are not good — already this weekend, Button has had to dig his personal motorhome out of the Silverstone mud.

“There is a hole in the field but it is ok,” the McLaren driver grinned, then sparing a thought for ardent race-goers who are pitching tents in the “metre of mud”.