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.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little