Matt Butler: Glorious, fantastic, amazing – and the race hasn't begun yet

View From The Sofa: British Grand Prix, BBC 1

Ah, summer. You have to be dead not to love it. And what better way to spend one of the sunniest days of the year than to camp out in a field and wait for a bunch of millionaires to strut their stuff in front of you?

But enough about Mick, Keef and the new guy; there was a party going on at the British Grand Prix. And aside from a toe-curling opening sequence where the hosts, Suzi Perry, Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard, took a three-wheeled trundle in what looked like Peel P50 cars (they took them through a couple of team offices – a stunt Jeremy Clarkson did over three years ago), the trio did well to promote the festival atmosphere and revelled in the Britishness of the Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Less than five minutes into coverage we had an obligatory group of camping fans shouting in unison who they love best: "Lewiiiiis," was the verdict. The group of supporters, complete with oversized sunglasses and Union flags fluttering in the breeze, could have been at Wimbledon or Glastonbury as much as Silverstone.

Later on we were treated to a few celebrities, including Goldie, Carol Vorderman and Chris Evans, gushing must-use words on occasions like these, like "glorious" and "fantastic" – again, utterances that would have fitted in perfectly in Somerset or SW19.

Ian Poulter was the most entertaining of the celebs, particularly given the stick he got last month for pitching up at the Monaco Grand Prix immediately after missing the cut at Wentworth. As Jordan asked why he was here, he immediately went on the defensive: "I only live a couple of miles down the road and I am a petrolhead so I couldn't resist it. Plus I only live a couple of miles down the road." We got the distinct impression he lives quite close to the track.

Earlier, Perry (right) and her cohorts had given their opening gambits in front of the main stand at Silverstone, which was packed with cheering fans and therefore gave the show even more of a festival feel.

But among the sun, spectators and stunt pilots (more on them later) there was some news to get through: namely, why Paul di Resta was sent to the back of the grid. His Force India team principal, Vijay Mallya, had a face like thunder when asked about it. "We weighed the car and then Paul and he was slightly lighter. Between them we were underweight," he fumed.

But Jordan was unsympathetic. As Perry tried to elicit some support for the British driver, Jordan snapped back: "They are the rules; it doesn't matter why they are underweight."

Luckily, there was an upbeat sequence to follow, with Lewis Hamilton flying with the Red Arrows. The shots of the Mercedes driver in the cockpit were priceless: "Ooh crap..." he said as the plane looped and banked high above the track.

The footage was accompanied by the Top Gun theme – what else? – and was impressive enough for Jordan to claim it was the best sequence they had done. "It was just amazing," he said. "We had the new Lewis and the theme from the movie. It is things like this that make the British Grand Prix special; the fans come because they love stuff like this, they like the excitement, the noise and the planes."

We certainly do. And we had been treated to a very British summer party before the cars had even got off the grid. Shame the festive feeling was punctured – literally – by the race.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence