Lewis Hamilton wins '˜beautiful' British Grand Prix in Northamptonshire in front of 140,000 fans
More than 140,000 motorsport fans descended on Northamptonshire to watch Lewis Hamilton win a damp British Grand Prix this afternoon.
The Mercedes driver topped the podium after an eventful race, which had to start behind the safety car due to a downpour minutes before the green light.
After the champagne celebrations, the 31-year-old jumped into the crowd as if he were the star of a rock concert.
“I just wanted some way to connect with the crowd,” he said in the post-race press conference. “If anything I wanted to crowd-surf further.”
And he added: “It was a beautiful day.”
The classic circuit, situated on the border of Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire, showed it still had the power to attract the great and the good of the showbiz world.
Great British Bake Off star Paul Hollywood was a guest with the Red Bull Racing team today.
He said The British Grand Prix should always have a home at Silverstone.
“I think this has got to stay where it is,” he added.
“I came here years ago and I managed to meet Ayrton Senna when he broke down, it’s got so much history.
“With the money they have invested in the circuit it’s got to stay here.”
And on whether he thought the partisan crowd at Silverstone were the best in the motorsport world, he said: “They are - I think the British fans always are.”
Wearing tartan trousers and flatcap, former champion Sir Jackie Stewart was glad to be back at his favourite circuit on the Formula One calender.
He said: “Your national event is always the big one. Of course Monte Carlo is huge for some people and Singapore is big also.
“But it’s not like over here.
“The crowds at Silverstone are aficionados they really know their sport.
“And Silverstone is run so well, it’s a great Grand Prix.”
And on whether the 1948 established circuit can compete with the new breed of tracks, such as in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, Sir Jackie, said: “We’ve got as many facilities here as they have. They may have spent more money over there, but it’s just as great here.”
Sky Sports commentator and former driver Martin Brundle stopped to speak about his love of the Northamptonshire circuit - though he admitted getting stuck in the one-way traffic system around the south of the county this morning.
He said: “This is the centre of the universe as far as motorsport is concerned. Since 1948 there has been great races great drivers great teams here.
“There are so many Formula One teams based within a 50-mile radius of Silverstone.
“Drivers love this track because it is just so fast.
“We need the traditional ones like Spa, Monza and Silverstone to stay because we’ve lost one or two, we need a mix really.
“I like some if the new ones but you can’t beat these old school circuits.”
Among the celebrities enjoying the race from the hospitality suites were Spice Girls Geri Horner and Emma Bunton, champion boxer Anthony Joshua, actor Patrick Stewart, Olympian Sir Chris Hoy and Radio One DJ Nick Grimshaw.
Former boxer Frank Bruno stopped to shake hands and pose for pictures as he headed into the pits.
He said: “I’ve been to Monte Carlo before and I’ve been here a while back, it’s good.
“It’s a very good circuit, I love the speed, the little extensions they put in.”
Hardy fans braved the frequent showers and the boggy campsites for their love of motorsport over the course of the weekend.
More than 300,000 have visited the circuit over the past three days.
Self employed Ben Nash, 43, from Whitstable, was enjoying the action with his family.
“It’s a classic old style racing circuit.
The only problem here is the infrastructure - it’s not great with the roads.
But it has got better here over the years and it’s not so bad if you come early.”