The impromptu rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ left Rosberg, who turned 28 on the Thursday before the race, speechless. He waved and said thank you, claiming that victory at Silverstone – 35 years after his father Keke won the 1978 F1 BRDC International Trophy at the track – was one of the highlights of his career.
The concert was the final chance for the 120,000 race-day fans to see their heroes in what was a star-studded day at the races. Lots of former British champions were at Silverstone – names such as John Surtees, Jackie Stewart, Damon Hill and Nigel Mansell – and there were lots of British celebrities on the grid as well. Spice Girl Geri Halliwell was there, as was the queen of numbers Carol Vorderman, DJ Chris Evans, celebrity chef James Martin, MotoGP rider Cal Crutchlow – fresh from his podium finish at Assen on Saturday – and the Queen’s grandson, Peter Phillips.
The Royal Air Force Red Arrows helped to entertain everyone during the build-up to the race and the pilots came into the paddock after the race to chat to Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes AMG Petronas driver had flown with them the week before the race and loved the experience.
“It was the coolest thing I’ve ever done,” said Lewis. “The planes fly so close together and they’re so manoeuvrable. I loved it. A big thank you to the Red Arrows for having me.”
Watching the Red Arrows dart through the cloudless sky was in direct contrast to the weather earlier in the weekend. The first practice session on Friday was a washout, with the cars doing very little running because the weather forecast was much better for the remainder of the weekend.
“I feel very sorry for the fans,” said Fernando Alonso from underneath his umbrella. “They are some of the best fans in the world here in England and they didn’t have much to look at this morning. But there was no point risking the car because the data would be irrelevant for the remainder of the weekend.”
Come Saturday, the rain was gone and Mercedes AMG Petronas were able to highlight the pace of their W04. Having started second for the preceding three races, Lewis Hamilton nailed a spectacular lap in Q3 to take pole position and he was joined on the front row by Rosberg, giving the Silver Arrows its first front row lock-out in England since Aintree in 1955.
During the early laps of Sunday’s race, Lewis had everything under control at the front. But on lap eight a left-rear tyre failure forced him into the pits and dropped him to the back of the field. He put in a stunning comeback drive to finish fourth, but it was Rosberg who carried the hopes of the team at the very front.
Mark Webber was another driver to put in a tenacious charge through the field. Having dropped to 15th on the opening lap due to a bad start, the Aussie finished second – just 0.7s behind Rosberg. Alonso rounded off the podium for Ferrari and he quickly headed to the hotel to watch Spain versus Brazil in the final of the Confederations Cup.
(Having seen the result, we think he’ll be avoiding team-mate Felipe Massa for a few days…).