With five grands prix in six weeks, F1 doesn’t have much time to draw breath at the moment – but this weekend it was the live demo team doing the heavy lifting, giving the RB8 a canter down at glorious Goodwood’s Festival of Speed.
Much like last weekend's British Grand Prix, the Festival of Speed has to cap its spectator numbers at 150,000 and comfortably sells all of its tickets – though unlike the Silverstone event, the Festival of Speed offers an eclectic selection of machinery, ranging from top fuel dragsters to the rather more elegant Cartier Style et Luxe Concours on the Goodwood House lawn. Afternoon tea will be taken over ten thousand times, 3,000 champagne bottles will end up in the recycling and 5,000 hay bales will do their duty to keep competitors and spectators safely unmingled. The Festival of Speed isn't the run-of-the-mill racing weekend.
Patrick Friesacher has been at the wheel for this weekend, thrilling the massed ranks on the cricket pitch with the full-throated roar of the mighty V8 in the back of the double-championship winning RB8 before setting off around Lord March's front garden and away up the hill.
"It's the perfect event," said Patrick – who also took the wheel of the Red Bull NASCAR over the weekend. "For me, this is the biggest motorsports festival in the world and it's a great honour and also a great pleasure to be driving an F1 car that won the World Championship."
Formula One cars aren't allowed to take part in the timed sprints any more – the course is rather too narrow and the barriers definitely too primitive for that – so instead Patrick put on a marvellous display of burnouts and some incredibly tidy donuts.
"The car is mega to drive. Obviously I drove in F1 with Minardi back in 2005 but this car... it just has so much downforce – and the brakes are amazing," added Patrick. "At the beginning of the weekend the track was still quite green, so you had to be a little bit careful – but with each run you get more feeling, more confidence, and you can really enjoy yourself. It's great hearing the cheers of the crowd – even over the V8 engine. I think we put on a really good show. The NASCAR is good – but the F1 car is just insane. It's obvious people love it!"
In between Patrick's runs, the RB8 in its straw-baled enclosure became everyone's favourite fairground donkey, with the hard-bitten mechanics of the live demo team taking turns to help children – after checking them carefully for ice-cream or sweets – in an out of the cockpit to experience a view that hasn't been enjoyed by many people without a super licence.
As the last runs were completed on Sunday and the land promptly returned to Lord March, slightly more laden with rubber than before, the live demo team packed up and headed back to base. As it parked up back in MK7, it slotted into a loading bay recently vacated by one of our other car transporters, now making its way to the channel ports, Hockenheim and next weekend's German Grand Prix.