Trust Silverstone. Just as we had hoped for and predicted, the British Grand Prix delivered another thriller, as the circuit provided a perfect canvas for a race that included a bit of everything.
Most prominent was the happy outcome from the horrific crash at the start, as Zhou Guanyu’s inverted Alfa Romeo tore through the gravel trap at Abbey, flipped again and ended up wedged between the tyre wall and the debris fence.
A lucky escape? Certainly, for not just the Chinese rookie but also the marshals, photographers and spectators in the grandstand who were in the direct line of fire.
But there was more than luck at play. That Zhou escaped to be pronounced fit to race in Austria just a few days later is a testament to both car and circuit safety in F1. As he said, the ‘halo’ cockpit-protection bars saved his life, while the debris fence did exactly what it was designed for.
I must admit that when the halo was introduced in 2018, I was among many to groan, given its weight and ugliness. But as usual, it’s amazing how quickly we adapt to change. It hasn’t diluted the essence of single-seater racing cars, and as Zhou is just the latest in a growing list of drivers who owe their lives to its existence, any lingering reticence is irrelevant. For once, let’s put aside the rose-tinted specs: not everything was better in the old days.
Just like Formula Ford
Once the grand prix did get going, it was packed with incident and intrigue. The final nine laps after the safety car intervention showed Silverstone at its best as one of the best tracks on the planet for pure motor racing. Who needs a fake marina to justify a place on the F1 schedule when drivers can go at it as if they were still in Formula Ford? The dogfights were straight out of the Walter Hayes Trophy, Silverstone's popular end-of-season Formula Ford carnival, than what we usually see at most grands prix.