Reluctantly I have to admit us British can be a little paranoid about the weather and Silverstone last year was proof we have every right to be. We used to get so fed up every time we arrived for the British Grand Prix, either at Silverstone or Donington, with the constant sarcastic enquiries from the remainder of the media centre about the ‘dreadful’ British weather and particularly the Spanish and Italians, who just could not understand why we lived on an Island where it has to be known to rain.
We used to point out that the weather at places such as Assen, the Sachsenring, Le Mans and even Qatar could be equally as variable. Our protests disappeared in the storm that deluged Silverstone and its new surface that proved unable to cope with the sheer amount of water falling out of the sky causing the cancellation of our beloved British Grand Prix. The first time in the 69-year history of Grand Prix racing that weather caused the complete and utter cancellation of a Grand Prix on the actual day of a race. There was no point trying to argue with those sodden and frustrated Italian and Spaniard’s as everybody packed up ready for the next round in Misano. This time the weather had won.
I’d had some close shaves before and have missed complete days of practice and qualifying. Race days have been postponed, race programmes and race distances cut short but always racing won albeit such as Qatar in 2009, a day late. Riders actually refusing to race on safety grounds have also produced severely depleted grids but the races have gone ahead. I remember being summoned to Barry Sheene’s motorhome at Nogaro in France in 1982 to draft a letter from all the top riders led by Kenny Roberts telling the organisers they refused to race on safety grounds. Who will forget the sight of Eddie Lawson raising one finger, not to celebrate a victory, while sitting on the pit lane wall in Misano every single lap to Pier Francesco Chili who won a re-started 1989 Nations Grand Prix when the leading riders refused to race after safety issue in the first race.
I never actually arrived at the Salzburgring in 1980 for that opening Grand Prix of the season after being warned you had to dig your way in and out of the paddock because of snowdrifts. We just got through the MotoGP™ race in on our very first visit to Indianapolis in 2008 before the hurricane arrived causing the cancellation of the 250cc race. I’ve talked and talked to less and less bored viewers from lonely commentary boxes with rain, mist and even the threat of lightning causing no chance of track action at venues such as Motegi, Sepang and Qatar but always somehow the races or in some cases, a race went ahead.
In Britain we have a popular expression about the weather called the Michael Fish moment. In 1987 a very well-known BBC weather presenter Michael Fish told millions of viewers not to worry about the weather approaching the South of England. That night the area was hit by the biggest storm and hurricane ever experienced in that part of the world and us paranoid Brits have never forgotten.
Excuse the expression but I’m sure lightning will not strike twice this weekend and even if it did, the resurfaced Silverstone circuit would cope with whatever the elements choose to throw at it.
Bring on the sunshine.