Eh up me duck, Spy here, enveloped in the red, white and blue of perfidious Albion. It’s time for the home race. The other home race. One of the home races anyway. Obviously we have home race (Red Bull) and home race (power unit) and this one, which is home race (geography) but frankly, it’s difficult to imagine us going to a race that isn’t someone’s home race in the Team: we’re a convivial bunch drawn from all corners of the civilised world but Silverstone is the one that really feels like home as it’s only 21 miles from the factory as the crow flies – assuming the crow came off the A5 at Stony Stratford, cut across country at Deanshanger to the A413 and went in the back gate by Whittlebury Golf Course*
Is it nice having a race at home? No. It’s awful. Well, awful-ish, definitely borderline weird and about ten times as stressful as racing anywhere else. People will extol the virtues of being able to sleep in your own bed – but the thing about a hotel bed is that you don’t have to make it. F1 teams work best with a routine, and the routine is thrown all to cock when the real world intrudes. It’s not a bad thing to receive the occasional face slap from the upturned rake of reality but it does not make for a smooth weekend when there’s bills to open and bread to buy. Half the crew simply don’t bother: the Team makes a hotel available, and those so inclined will pretend it isn’t slightly further away from the circuit than their own home and bunk down there.
The race team is, of course, like the tip of the iceberg**, it’s the visible ten per cent of a bigger organisation. Most of Red Bull Racing stays tucked up in Bradbourne Drive all year round, beavering away at designing, constructing, testing and painting the cars. The brilliant part of having a home race is that many of them get a day out to see the fruits of their labours from the grandstands. The downside is that it might be sunny and they’re very pale. Have you ever seen a sunburnt aerodynamicist? You’ll never be cruel to a radish again.
Not that everyone can get to the circuit. Proximity means we – and a bunch of other teams – can push deadlines to the limit. It’s not impossible that parts for qualifying will be arriving at the circuit Saturday lunchtime. We’ve taken pole position at Silverstone in the past when a new floor has arrived an hour before qualifying (and a race ahead of schedule) giving us that extra tenth that’s made the difference. Of course, it wouldn’t have been anything like as tight if traffic management wasn’t something the gentlemen of the BRDC regarded as a dangerously subversive concept.
It’s stuff like this that makes Silverstone a home race more than the fact it’s the British Grand Prix. We’ve been coming here since Red Bull Racing was a fresh-faced upstart and everyone’s aware this year might be our last visit. And while the British Grand Prix may continue in London, Wales or Narnia, Spy suspects that for us, and for the rest of the vast F1 community based in Motorsport Valley, that might genuinely feel like just another grand prix venue.
* That’s just between us, right?
** It melts if parked at Yas Marina