Our Thanks to UK Motorsport’s Volunteer Community
2021 will be remembered as the year in which life slowly started to return to a semblance of normality after the first pandemic of the modern age. While COVID-19 is still with us, the UK has through the success of the vaccination programme, advanced to the recovery and renewal phase and living in a ‘new norm’.
As with broader society, the past 18 months have been gruelling for the motorsport community, however the fact that Silverstone have successfully welcomed a capacity crowd back to the venue for the 2021 Formula 1 Pirelli British Grand Prix is a feat of Herculean proportions by all involved in the delivery of the world’s largest sporting event in 18 months.
2021 is also a year in which innovation has been brought to the fore, and in addition to finding solutions to new challenges, we have also seen the introduction of some ‘firsts’ to the Formula 1 platform, designed to shake-up the established format, and introduce exciting new on track spectator experiences to enhance the racing entertainment over more sessions.
The new F1 Sprint made its debut here on Saturday, and this short event with a lighter fuel load and a nimbler car reminded many of the sport’s refuelling era, when drivers were able to hard-charge between pitstops. It proved an exciting end of day addition to the schedule for the fans, and an opportunity for the drivers to secure additional points to boost championship standings.
The weekend also welcomed W Series to the hallowed asphalt of Silverstone for the first time and it was great to see British talent topping the podium on the Formula 1 support package. Alice Powell reigned supreme this weekend and now edges fellow Brits, Jamie Chadwick and Sarah Moore in the championship, while Abbie Eaton and Jessica Hawkins have delivered some impressive performances. It was also fantastic to see 18-year-old Abbi Pulling joining their ranks for this event and making a very encouraging debut, boding well for the future. Congratulations to Alice on her second win of the 2021 season!
In F2, British driver Dan Ticktum had a strong weekend, posting the fastest time in free practice and going on to secure P3 in the Sprint Race, and P2 in Sunday’s Feature Race.
All of this really does go to show that the junior categories and British Championships offer an unrivalled pathway and support system for identifying and advancing the next generation of talent through the ranks.
Despite his incredibly successful career, Lewis Hamilton has never forgotten his roots, as he demonstrated last Thursday when he visited Motorsport UK’s new headquarters at Bicester Heritage to open the building and greet all those working incredibly hard behind the scenes at the governing body. He was in ebullient form and gave the British Grand Prix trophy a playful rub during his visit, which seemed prophetic, as his weekend got off to an impressive start on Friday when he toppled the dominant Max Verstappen in qualifying.
In Saturday’s Sprint, Verstappen regained the advantage and the scene was set for another intense battle between the championship rivals on race day. The pair were neck-and-neck through the first half of the lap, then on the run down to Copse, Hamilton went for the inside line, causing Verstappen’s right rear wheel to tag the Briton’s front left. The Dutchman was spun into the barrier at high speed, which caused extensive damage to his car, and to the tyre wall. The race was red-flagged while repairs were carried out, and when the race resumed the Stewards handed Lewis a 10-second stop-go penalty. This only served to invigorate the seven-time world champion and in the closing laps the crowd was treated to a thrilling display of Hammer time, as he hunted down first Bottas, then Leclerc, to take the win with two laps to spare. What a sensational eighth British Grand Prix victory for Lewis, and a glorious way to welcome the home crowd back to Silverstone.
The support for Lewis, Lando Norris, and George Russell in the grandstands throughout the weekend was as passionate as ever; how we have all missed the sea of Union Jack flags.
The British Grand Prix has always been an incredible feat of organisation, and once again we want to pay tribute to those at the heart of the operation – the army of volunteers without whom none of this would be possible. Current times have called for additional resilience, commitment and attention to detail, with the application of the testing regime and a disciplined approach vital to successfully implementing COVID-19 protocols. All of this on the hottest weekend of the year, against a schedule of prolonged days.
Once again, the army of officials rose to the challenge and delivered in spades.
Simply saying thank you seems to fall short, however this weekend you exemplified the strength, passion, commitment, expertise and experience of UK motorsport’s greatest asset, our volunteer officials’ community.
Your contribution was vital to a hugely successful and memorable 2021 Formula 1 Pirelli British Grand Prix. You put on an incredible show and have our immense gratitude.
Hugh Chambers Stuart Pringle
Chief Executive Motorsport UK Managing Director, Silverstone Circuit Ltd