David Croft Writes for Silverstone

What a race that was then! From crying Ferrari fans, to wheel to wheel contact, to a terrific scrap for the lead and ultimately a driver at the top of his game, expertly backed up by his team, taking a hard fought victory. The 2017 Spanish Grand Prix had a little bit of everything and what a joy it was to be a part of.

It was a weekend of surprises, such a contrast to the Spanish Grands Prix once upon a time where the order the cars crossed the line at the end of the first lap invariably didn’t change up to the Chequered Flag. I’ve talked over some dull races at this track let me tell you.

But from the outset this felt like a different weekend at the Circuit de Catalunya. The wind of change in the sport at the moment, felt like it had blown through and was starting to make a difference. Yes, we had the cold wind and heavy rain on Thursday, not the best surprise, and certainly not what I wanted as I’d left my coat back in the UK. It never rains in Spain – unless you’re standing on some plain somewhere – does it?

Well, it did, I got soaked and I’ve had a cold ever since. Apologies for the croaky voice on Sunday afternoon but, to be fair, I’d had plenty to get excited about by the time Lewis Hamilton crossed the line.

When the fans arrived on Friday they found a whole new Fanzone to entertain. Zip lines, giant transformers, an alternative podium that you could stand on and have your picture taken, just a few of the new initiatives for the paying public. At Silverstone, you guys are well catered for. The circuit does whatever it can to provide a festival atmosphere that you can all enjoy, and it was timely that a few of the Silverstone team were in Barcelona to check out what was on offer and see if they can have it in place for the British Grand Prix in July.

David Croft Writes for Silverstone

So Valtteri Bottas became the 107th different driver to win a Formula 1 World Championship Grand Prix on Sunday. The 5th from Finland, which is pretty astounding since we’ve only ever had 8 Finnish drivers race in the sport, and the first time we’ve had two Finns on the podium since Heiki Kovalainen won in Hungary in 2008.

I do like a good stat as you may know by now, but I also like to see good guys do well, so behind the stats the mere fact that Valtteri was stood on the top step of the podium was more than enough to put a smile on my face in Sochi on Sunday afternoon.

“If I didn’t think I could beat Lewis then I should stay at home” the race winner had told Ted Kravitz in a feature we broadcast on Sky F1 in our pre-race build up. It was a lovely feature too, where Valtteri took Ted back to his home town, showed him where he first went Karting, his school, the restaurant where they serve up the Bottas Burger, and also where our intrepid Paddock Reporter ended up in a frozen lake, all in the line of duty.

Crofty's Tracks 2017

Ride The Night Away - Little Steven

He’s back and out brings a tear to the eye to think that this is his first album in 20 years. Little Steven - Springsteen’s right hand man, activist, pioneer of the Jersey Shore sound, actor, producer, writer and without doubt the coolest man on the planet - has finally remembered that he can sing, and boy can he play!

Soulfire is the album, without doubt a contender for album of the year, proper R&B, boisterous, brassy, bold and bloody brilliant. Ride The Night Away was originally recorded by Jimmy Barnes, later featured on Southside Johnny’s album Better Days and now reunited with it’s owner. You’ll be hooked after the first listen, horns meet classic rock and roll guitars and the result is truly outstanding.

 

Crofty's Tracks 2017

We Don’t Know - The Strumberellas

More top music from Canada, this time from Ontario six-piece The Strumberellas. We Don’t Know is the bands favourite track from their last album ‘Hope’ and it’s easy to see why. It’s catchy sing-along chorus should have you hooked pretty quickly, I know it did me, from the first time I came across the track. The song made the Top 20 of the US Alternative Chart when it was released last Autumn, such a shame it didn’t get more airplay in the UK. Why it didn’t, I certainly Don’t Know?

 

David Croft Writes for Silverstone

So, here’s your starter for ten this week. Is it just me or are we falling in love with Fratelli d’Italia once again? You don’t know the song? Trust me you do. It goes something like this Da da da daaa, da da da daaa, da da da daaa, da da da daaa. You’ve got it, it’s the national anthem, one of the most jolly happy national anthems you could ever wish for and one that, for the 226th time in Formula 1 history, was played out in Bahrain on Sunday night.

After the fireworks had left their red stains on the night sky, Sebastian Vettel stepped out, dancing his way onto the podium – note to Seb here, the Egyptian Walk isn’t really a local dance in this part of the Middle East, but it was a nice try. The trophy he said, “is really special here, one of the best of the season”, and he should know, it’s the third time he’s held it aloft.

But it’s the first time he’s done so as a Ferrari driver and you can tell that it means so much to him. The Scuderia is back, ladies and gentlemen, and all is right with the world. After a long period of expectation, followed by exasperation, the most famous team of them all has appeared on the track in 2017, taken two of the first three races, backed up their winter testing form and look like genuine championship contenders.

Now, come on Crofty you say, there’s a long way to go this season and anything could happen. Which is true, it could, but that’s not the point. The point is that they look like contenders rather than flattering to deceive, and after three years where Mercedes have lead the way to the extent that you felt they could have beaten the rest with one wheel tied behind their backs, isn’t it great not only to see a challenger emerge, but for that challenger to be Ferrari.

David Croft Writes for Silverstone

It’s Thursday morning, somewhere around 11am.  Could be the afternoon though, or the evening, my body clock isn’t quite sure where it is as I stare at the lift doors in front of me.

I’m heading up to the Media Centre at the circuit. Nine floors up and housed in a bridge that spans the track. Right where Giovinazzi crashed in qualifying, and the race. Poor lad, he did have a proper weekend to forget.

Anyway, I’m staring at the lift doors and thinking to myself, I like leaning! I’m also quite a fan of a random button pushing! And whilst I’m not overly keen on slapping the door, I most definitely do enjoy playing and jumping! Who is the person responsible for taking all of these glorious things away from me and is this conclusive proof that F1 just isn’t fun anymore?

Maybe that’s a bit over the top, but I wasn’t happy that leaning, one of life’s best pastimes, had been taken away from me. So, with a little frown on my face, I ventured into the Media Centre to pick up some pre-race weekend info from the nice people at the FIA.

Crofty's Tracks 2017

Come Join The Murder - The White Buffalo

No spoilers here, I’m way behind on Sons Of Anarchy, but I know when I get to the finale I’ll be hearing this tune from Jake Smith, a.k.a The White Buffalo in the finale, eventually. It’s a sprawling, epic song from one of the finest Americana writers out there at the moment and quite frankly, encourages binge watching as I can’t wait to see and hear how it fits in to the end.

 

 

David Croft Writes for Silverstone

There’s not a single person in the F1 world that doesn’t like coming to Melbourne, I’m sure of it. Maybe those in charge of logistics might disagree, after all, it’s a long way from the factories for all those last minute ‘go faster’ parts to get to the track. But in terms of atmosphere and entertainment for the fans it’s a brilliant way to start the new season.

On Sunday morning the fans were queuing round the block to get in. I’ve never personally seen queues like it at Albert Park and whilst I’m not going to claim that there was a record attendance, I’d like to think that numbers were up on previous years.

Fed a non-stop diet of on track action and noise from the skies, there are plenty of reasons to be queuing from the early morning too. As there will be at Silverstone when you come along in July, there’s plenty of support series racing, Aussie V8’s being the highlight in Melbourne, along with the daily visit from the Royal Australian Air Force. A display so loud that it actually shakes my commentary box. Not just mine either, wherever you stand you feel your rib cage rattling. This year though, thanks to my new Isolate ear plugs I actually managed to get a shot of the plane flying overhead. Previous attempts had failed because a) the plane was going too fast and b) taking a photo whilst trying to stick your fingers in your ears to avoid deafness is a pretty pointless exercise.

Now at this stage, I could make a subtle link from my own personal pointless exercise to the new F1 regulations, which according to some of the tweets I received after the race, you believe to be a total waste of time too.

I fear that this blog might just take on a similar theme to years previous where I implore you all to have patience and a bit of faith in the night, and not get to negative too quickly. Maybe it’s the way of life but I do get the sense that we are all guilty from time to time of over reacting to change and quick to condemn.

I’m well aware that there wasn’t much overtaking in Sunday’s race, trust me I was watching every moment. But Melbourne is a track where overtaking can be tricky enough at the best of times, so let’s not declare the new regulations a total failure just yet.

One race, people, where apparently F1 became a total bore fest. Or where some wish they hadn’t bothered getting out of bed. Or where there was no racing whatsoever, definitely not better than before. So many tweets, so much negativity and whilst you’re all very much entitled to an opinion, shouldn’t we be a little balanced here?

David Croft Writes for Silverstone

Testing, testing, one-two, one-two, as they say. Well they do if they’re my mate Baggy for instance. He’s a sound engineer and probably says that quite a bit, but you might not have uttered that phrase ever, I really don’t know.

Either way, it’s all been about testing in the last couple of weeks in the world of F1. Eight days where the new cars were put through their paces and where the teams battled to find the sweet spot and try to put their car in a window of performance in time for the first Grand Prix.

In truth, most will have come back from Barcelona thinking that they’re sat on the ledge outside their required window of performance, whilst some will have gone back to base believing the window was still firmly shut. From what I could gather from the various conversations I had over the course of the four days I spent in Barcelona, nobody was completely happy.

Not even Ferrari who, for the second year running, posted the fastest two times. And, unlike last year, preferred to let their car do most of the talking, rather than make bold predictions. Information was scarce from the Scuderia, but the reliability was good and the times, at first glance, impressive.

Beware, though, of reading too much into the times. Some teams were definitely hiding their true pace, Ferrari may not have been hiding as much as some.

Crofty's Tracks 2017

Legendary - Welshly Arms

With a name taken from a Saturday Night Live sketch - hot tub at the Welshly Arms Hotel anyone? - a love of blues with rhythm and soul and good old rock ’n’ roll, what is there not to like about Welshly Arms? And when it comes to this track, what is there not to LOVE? The band have just signed a deal with Universal Music in Europe, so with a bit of luck you’re going to be hearing a lot from them this year, and as for this track…. I don’t think I need to say anything other than it’s… well… just… Legendary! Actually no, it’s better than that!!