EFF ONE

Every year I turn up for my home race with an open mind, prepared to look on the bright side of the organizational foibles of the British Grand Prix

The very first irritation rears its head with the phrase "every year I turn up," because yet again, turning up is harder than anticipated, despite the changes made and despite the fact that I live a mere stone's throw from the "Home of British Motorsport." There were pristine white panels on every approach road to the track. They didn't say anything. That's not quite true, as I did spot one sign which read "F1 Personnel." By Sunday someone had scrawled "Énot planning to work today," underneath it.

The sign pointed down a dead end track.

I was not the only one struggling with the local constabulary's strange approach to traffic control. On Saturday evening the editor of grandprix.com found himself stopped by the police while travelling the wrong may down a dual carriageway. This was actually a good thing because Ed was simply following the instructions given to him by Silverstone and was not expecting to find traffic coming the other way...

Over at Jordan one of the marketing men was arrested for taking his usual route from the track to the team factory, a distance of about 50 meters. Where were the official black signs which every Grand Prix from Melbourne to Suzuka manages to put up each year, even though in both these countries, English is a foreign language?

English is also a foreign language to the extrovert star of the horse racing world, Frankie Dettori, but it didn't stop the Italian from providing some of the most entertaining quotes of the weekend at Silverstone. A guest of Vodafone, the jaunty jock revealed he was at Silverstone to meet Michael Schumacher, a man used to dealing with around 900 horses at a time.

Dettori had brought along a racing whip for the German. "I thought he could give his Ferrari a good whack on the last lap," said Dettori. "What he does with the whip in the privacy of his own home is up to him. Actually, horse racing and F1 have a lot in common. In both sports you get followed around by an ambulance."

McLaren's technical director Adrian Newey had obviously been having some medical attention because he was hobbling around the Silverstone paddock on crutches. Anyone who asked was told that he had pulled an Achilles Tendon while playing tennis.

Pull the other one Adrian! (I guess that is an unfortunate expression given that he would then not have a leg to stand on). I reckon Adrian was either injured when Ron Dennis kicked him when they were discussing the MP4-18 or perhaps he was sitting in the car when it failed the side impact crash test.

If it was the Jaguar team, this would be called "an issue". Jaguars never have problems nor failures, they have "issues" and the post-race press release at Silverstone featured the word no fewer than seven times, four of them apparently spoken by Antonio Pizzonia. I am relieved that Pizza Man's English extends to the word "issue" as it looks like his future in Milton Keynes lies not with Jaguar Racing but rather selling magazines for the unemployed on street corners. "Big Issue," he will be able to say. "Get the Big Issue here". If I was Pizzonia I would have taken advantage of the presence as a team guest of Arnold Schwarzenegger to learn how to terminate some of those who have ridden him out of the picture at Jaguar Racing. One might excuse him for being a little mad...

Which brings me to Father Neil Horan, the one-man track invasion who ran down Hangar Straight (did anyone notice he was heading towards Chapel?) looking rather like Jackie Stewart. It seems that Horan has written a book called "A Glorious New World" which I can only presume contains his vision for a revitalized Silverstone. Horan believes in the Second Coming, with Jesus Christ ruling the world for a thousand years as the head of the Israeli Army.

When Bernie Ecclestone was told that the track invader was a man of God, he told reporters: "Well, he'll be needing God if he carries on like that!"

Another good quote came from former Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke whom I spotted rummaging around in the BAR Paddock Club humidor at lunchtime on Saturday. "I've had a good breakfast and I'm planning to have a good dinner tonight, so I'm going to have a healthy lunch," he remarked as he selected a large cigar.

Father Horan was not the only track invader in Silverstone. On Thursday, an Apache helicopter of the Royal Army Air Corps landed on the pit straight. It was there to publicize the fact that the FIA had worked with the Army, using F1 technology to reduce the chopper's refuelling time by 50 percent. Hopefully there are no plans for a reciprocal arrangement whereby the Army instructs F1 teams on how to vaporize the opposition.

The Silverstone weekend was brought to a close with a rock concert behind the paddock. As the sound of 12 bar blues drifted into the media center, I decided to take a break from keyboard bashing and take a look. There was nothing wrong with the music from headline act Status Quo, as Francis Rossi and Rick "past-it" Parfitt can still bash out the only three chords they know with gusto.

But the sight of overweight topless pink-skinned male fans dancing with one another while suited security guards practiced their air-guitar skills was definitely a turn off.

Where's an Apache attack helicopter when you need one?

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