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View from grandstand opposite Silverstone pitlane - F1 testing 04

A few weeks before the Silverstone GP there was a couple of days of F1 testing. All the teams bar Sauber and Minardi attended, and for the first time we thought we would go and have a look.

A few of the main grandstands were open, from Bridge to Copse Corner. Ok, so they are not racing, but as a relaxed atmosphere to see and hear these amazing machines, with the freedom to wander about and spectate in different locations, I can highly recommend it. And best of all, it is all free!

I think this years Renault is one of the prettiest of this seasons cars.

As we arrived we walked towards the track near Bridge - the first car past was a Renault, which exploded into site with enough noise to make both Tessa and I jump backwards. Unless you have seen these machines live, you cannot understand the noise they make. Some don't like it - I am the opposite, and it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up!

Tessa and mark watching the start/finish straight and the pitlane entrance from the main grandstand opposite.

At the entrance to Copse the cars must be doing well in excess of 150mph - very difficult to snap with a small digi camera!

In fact this Jaguar was the only one I got from this location!

I still have a 35mm film to develop from this day, so most of the following pictures have been taken by Mark.

Rubens in the Ferrari coming through the Woodcote complex.

This was the first serious track test of the new mid-season McLaren, here with Kimi driving.

Jaguar exiting Bridge.

Good shot of the Williams 'walrus' nose. Since this they have reverted to a more conventional design.

Rear shot of Montoya in the other Williams about to clip the apex at Copse.

Rubens again.

To our eyes the Jordon boys were working harder than anyone else on track. the cars looked evil, understeering and oversteering everywhere.

On these occasions, and in fact anytime you get to see these cars live and together in the same place, you can really see the differences between the cars themselves and the drivers styles. TV just does not show this, and if you have any knowledge about the performers and technology you can really notice the detail.

Compare the Jordon line through Copse with the picture below, which shows Button in the BAR. Twice we saw the Jordon almost go off at this corner.

As I said, the Jordan cars looked evil on track. There seemed to be no consistency from lap to lap as the drivers seemed to be fighting at every bend, and even on the straight sometimes! I have 2 film clips of the Jordons getting it all wrong at the very highspeed Copse corner at the end of the main start/finish straight. On one of them the car misses the apex by metres and proceeds to run very wide into the dusty outside of the corner exit - you can hear the driver get off the gas and try and keep it on the track, which he did. On the second clip again you can see the car run very wide, but this time leaving two thick black lines as the car struggles to put the power down. The top cars, the BAR, Ferrari, Williams etc made the corner look easy, with inch perfect running as if on rails.

The BAR looked particularly good through here, 'as if on rails' as the cliche goes.

Button coming round onto the start/finish straight.

Standing opposite the pitlane exit we were able to watch the cars testing their start technique.

One of the other really noticible things was the way that whenever Schumacher entered the pitlane, he was on it right up to the pitlane speed limit line practicing whenever he could - no one else seemed to do this.

We shall certainly do this again when the guys are next at Silverstone - a great free day out!

As part of the publicity build up before the 2004 British GP a demonstration run was arranged in central London. Several F1 teams turned up with their cars and drivers to complete a short circuit which included Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus. As you would expect the crowds were massive - too big really, as concerns about crowd safety led to a long delay before things started, and an earlier finish as well. They think there were between ¼ to ½ a million people lining the streets. The GP a few weeks later sold a maximum of 150,000 tickets!!

People could be seen at every vantage point - lamp posts, barriers, buildings and roofs were all used - I think the builders on Regent Street got the best view.

After about an hour standing 5 deep on Regent Street the first vehicles came past - 3 road sweepers. It would be another 40 minutes before an F1 car came through.

Jordan had Nigel Mansell running their car, Ferrari ran a 2003 car with Badoer, Button in the BAR, Coultard in the McLaren, De Matta was in the Toyota, Montoya in a Williams and Martin Brundle guested in a Jaguar. Minardi ran one of their twin-seater cars. The lucky passenger apparently paid for his place (all proceeds to charity) to the tune of nearly $250,000!!

We did not expect to see much here, but just wanted to hear the cars echo in between the buildings. So no pictures of any F1 cars until I manage to upload some film clips!

As you would expect, the noise in these demo runs was amazing. We did manage to see quick flashes of cars as they ran through the way-too-narrow lane that had been set up. Highest score for entertainment went to Brundle in the Jaguar - he appreciated that the crowd had come to see and hear the cars and seemed to take the longest to complete his run as he smoked his way past!

Special mention to the Mercedes SLK AMG Course car - perhaps the quickest runner of the day, with a glorious engine note that echoed around the streets!

One final word - after this event there was a lot of talk about running a GP in London - my opinion? Not a hope - it will never happen!!