A single exciting grand prix at Silverstone may have been a well timed and near perfect perfect antidote amid Formula 1’s so-called crisis.
“Crisis called off?” Toto Wolff, boss of the dominant Mercedes team, said sarcastically after the British grand prix.
Amid calls for urgent change as the struggling sport bleeds fans, 140,000 spectators filled the Silverstone grandstands on Sunday as the Williams drivers surprisingly took on the Mercedes might. And a sprinkling of rain gave the ‘show’ yet another excitement boost.
“Sometimes these things just happen at the right moment as there was a race with all the ingredients necessary for excitement,” said Wolff.
The Times reported that even though it was a familiar winner at the end, Lewis Hamilton “wiped the scowl from the face of formula one”.
And the correspondent for Suddeutsch Zeitung agreed: “140,000 spectators, one of the most challenging tracks, unstable weather, classic racing. The best remedy for crisis in formula one is to bring the race to the home of motor sport.”
But one good race does not mean F1 is instantly healed, as even Wolff acknowledged: “We still need to ask how we can make it better so that we can convince the critics that this is a great sport.”
Even the beaming winner agreed, “I think there’s still some things … their (the critics’) views are probably still valid in many ways but I guess it’s an indication for us not to throw our toys out of the pram and say everything’s wrong.”
Bild newspaper, for instance, reported that although Silverstone was an exciting race, the biggest problem is that the actual outcome is still ‘boring’ — with two Mercedes ahead of the rest.
Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene responded: “I would like to be as boring as Mercedes and always be first and second. They deserve to be where they are. But we are working hard so that the podium looks less boring in the future.”
Another new ingredient in the race was Hamilton deciding for himself to pit for intermediate tyres, just as the rain was about to get heavier.
Der Spiegel called him a “Tactic-God”!
“Lewis decided for himself ‘I’m coming in’,” confirmed Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda. “So we can see that if the driver takes it into his own hands, he can win.”
And from the Belgian grand prix next month, drivers are going to be put increasingly in the spotlight, with the immediate banning of all such ‘coaching’.
Hamilton would not even mind if reports F1 is set to replace qualifying next year with a ‘sprint race’ are true, “For the nine years I’ve been here now it’s been the same. I would be happy if they freshen it up a bit and make it more exciting.”
Sebastian Vettel, however, does not agree. “The grand prix should be the grand prix, and a qualifying race would take some of that away.”
What is clear is that if there was a ‘crisis’ before Sunday, one race will not have solved it. Indeed, F1 should now be heading for the Nurburgring, but instead will take three weeks off because the German grand prix was axed.
But as Bernie Ecclestone observed to Die Welt newspaper: “It’s a German problem, not an English problem.”