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On This Day: A shadow over Silverstone - Tracking the issues hanging over the British racing track

Published by Christine

It's fair to say that Silverstone is one of the more popular circuits on the calendar. Whilst the racing isn't always superb, the track is supported by lots of history, plenty of emotion, and of course, passionate fans. Why is it, then, that Silverstone is the one track that always seems to have a shadow hanging over it? If something is about to kick off in F1, just wait until the British GP for it all to become clear.

Welcome to Silverstone, where press releases cause complete mayhem
Credit: Sidepodcast

2007 - And Honda makes three

In 2007, we were knee deep in the middle of the spying scandal - McLaren and Ferrari were arguing bitterly over who was to blame, and Coughlan and Stepney's names were making F1 headlines for weeks on ends. On the Friday of the British GP, Honda dipped their toe into the water as well, by revealing that they had met with both Stepney and Coughlan. The pair had approached Honda for work, and the team were quick to point out that they were offered no confidential information. Many of the details must be marked with a big "allegedly" sticker, and there's no need to go over old ground again now.

I remember that day vividly, as we listened in on Radio 5live's broadcast from a tent in the Honda campground. Wait for it, there's more name-dropping to come. Our ears perked up at the discussion, but having missed the start, we had to wait to grab hold of Maurice Hamilton and pump him for information. He was very forthcoming, told us about the Honda involvement, and the rest of the evening/weekend was spent discussing the espionage events in great detail.

2008 - Could this be the end?

With spying out of our minds, 2008 was a fresh start and to Silverstone we trotted, happy with what was turning out to be a fascinating season. In the midst of Friday Free Practice, it suddenly emerged that Bernie Ecclestone had handed Donington Park the contract for the British GP. Silverstone was no longer. Bernie couldn't have timed it to better effect, and you could feel a collective gloom fall over the paddock. Where previously fans had been snapping up merchandise and enjoying what they could of the weather, there were slumped shoulders to be found everywhere.

We all sort of thought it wasn't going to be possible, we kind of knew in the back of our minds that it wasn't really the end for Silverstone, but it certainly felt like it that day. Have a listen back to our podcast for the British GP that year and see what you make of it.

2009 - We don't want to play anymore

Just twelve months ago (is that really all it was?), F1 faced one of it's bigger challenges, and Silverstone took the brunt of it once again. With radical plans for a shakeup of the way Formula One works, including budget caps, lots of new teams, maybe even a two-tier system, things were looking shaky as the paddock descended upon Britain.

On the eve of Free Practice Friday, the Formula One Teams Association held a press conference and announced they were setting up their own breakaway series. There were so many questions regarding their announcement, and all the possibilities it created, that people talked of nothing else for the rest of the weekend. What do you mean there was a race on? Did someone win? It didn't matter. The important topics were - would Räikkönen follow Ferrari to the new series? Which one will you follow?

Of course, it all came to nothing, a waste of breath and poor Silverstone was buried underneath headlines that were out of date almost as soon as they were printed.

2010 - ?

So the question is, what massive revelation is going to come before the British Grand Prix this year? Will Silverstone finally manage to stand up and be proud without a shadow hanging over it?