Sunday, 8 July

5:32pm - Goodbye, and see you next year.

As the crowds stream out of the circuit to be met by gridlocked traffic the length of the A43, stall-holders pack up their wares, drivers and F1 personnel are already thinking about the next race in Germany in two weeks' time, and circuit officials are looking ahead to 2008. Next year, surely, it must be Lewis' turn..?

4:37pm - Beware strange men bearing poster tubes...

A journalist attempting to grab a post-race quote from Fernando Alonso finds himself foiled by a poster tube. Having asked the Spaniard his question, no sooner has Alonso begun to respond than a member of his entourage decrees he has answered more than enough questions this weekend and shall not be answering any more.

As Fernando stops to sign an autograph for a young girl and said entourage march on, the fearless journalist tries again. Once more, the McLaren star begins to reply, but the journalist's attention is distracted by the aforementioned man glaring and brandishing a poster tube at him in menacing fashion. The bemused hack at this point gives up, with no quotes but equally no bruises.

2:33pm - Flying Finn spoils Hamilton's homecoming party.

Kimi Raikkonen dashes the hopes of the 85,000-srong crowd by streaking to the chequered flag ahead of Fernando Alonso, with Hamilton almost 40 seconds in arrears in third place. With Ferrari back on form the championship is wide open again, while for Lewis there will always be next year...

1:01pm - One down, one to go for home hero.

With the tension building as Lewis Hamilton bids to convert pole position on his maiden British GP outing into victory, it all gets too much for Felipe Massa, who stalls his Ferrari on the starting grid before the formation lap. While the Brazilian will be forced to begin the race from the pit-lane, it is nevertheless good news for the home favourite, who now only has one bright red machine to defeat rather than two.

11:30am - The crowd goes absolutely berserk as the drivers emerge for their parade.

Opposite the pits, there's a renegade banner among all the Hamilton bunting. "Go for it, Ralf." No, we don't understand either.

11:23am - Posh and Becks reach their destination: Honda.

Appropriate, really. The team could do with a little advice about taking corners.

11:21am - Posh and Becks sweep through the paddock.

Famously analytical German writer Michael Schmidt fails to notice: he's discussing tyres with Renault engineering director Pat Symonds.

11:06am - The Porsche Supercup victory ceremony is in full swing.

Silverstone security dictates that the media room stairs - which pass close to the podium access door - are out of bounds at such times. Hacks are ordered to use the lift, which promptly gets stuck. Six people are trapped, but only for a couple of minutes.

9:51am - Adam Carroll's victory in the GP2 Series raises an audible cheer from the grandstands.

Pity they are only half full. They weren't when Lewis Hamilton won 2006's corresponding fixture.

7:20am - Media room snacks not to be sniffed at.

Sam, the police sniffer hound, undertakes a tour of the media room. He wanders into the refreshment room and completely ignores the tray of biscuits: he's well-disciplined, but quite clearly isn't a proper dog.

6:45am - Buzzing atmoshere, calmer queues.

As a lad I used to stand outside Silverstone's gates at 5.30am and, invariably, would find myself a very long way back in a queue that stretched most of the way to Northampton. Almost everyone was armed with a deckchair and a Thermos and, when the locks were unbolted, a mad dash ensued to grab a spot at the front. Having a chair enabled you to make an irrefutable claim to a specific area of ground that would be yours for the day.

The downside? It made you slower in the sprint and reduced your chances of landing a slice of prime real estate. Such chaos appears to be a thing of the past. There is traffic - human and vehicular - on the approach to Silverstone, but everything flows calmly.

Saturday, 7 July

2:00.57pm - The last car running posts a 1m 19.997s to clinch pole position.

The grandstands rise as one to celebrate the third pole position of Lewis Hamilton's F1 career. He's the first Brit to take pole for his home grand prix since Damon Hill in 1996. The scramble for the paddock scrums begins.

1:38pm - BMW Sauber's decision to sit out the final moments of Q2 almost proves costly.

A glut of quick times puts Nick Heidfeld on the bubble... but he scrapes through by 0.057s. Iffy team management, but then you wouldn't expect Ralf Schumacher to be fifth fastest, would you? Indeed, you don't always expect him to get as far as Q2.

1:31pm - Alonso posts a 1m 19.152s: the weekend's fastest lap so far.

1:15pm - If life wasn't already delicate enough at Honda, which has been dragged into the alleged McLaren/Ferrari espionage plot, Q1 ends with one Honda-powered car in the gravel (Anthony Davidson's Super Aguri) and three in the bottom six, including the RA107 of former crowd favourite Jenson Button.

The only Honda escapee is Rubens Barrichello. The Brazilian has always been a stellar performer at Silverstone, but armed with a Honda that equates to 16th.

1:10pm - Fernando Alonso illustrates what's possible if you don't plot a course through the rough stuff: 1m 19.330s.

1:07pm - Lewis Hamilton runs wide at Copse, but still posts a 1m 19.885s - provisionally the fastest time of the first qualifying session.

12:45pm - Kangaroo reports that no more of its hand-held TVs are available for hire.

The sets allow spectators to follow the action from a variety of angles and listen to the circuit commentary (sound insulating earphones tend to be a better bet than the circuit's PA system, the loudspeakers of which look about as modern as a Ford Corsair). Later this month, visitors to the German GP will be able to tune in to Murray Walker via Kangaroo: the effervescent 83-year-old is making a one-off return to live race commentary as a stand-in for BBC Radio Five Live.

8:41am - If anybody wants to sneak into the paddock, now's the time.

There's a potential lapse in security because Lewis Hamilton is approaching. An army of fluorescent-jacketed guardians and a gaggle of police officers stand and stare in his general direction. None of them is paying one iota of attention to the electronic swipe gates. Another by-product of The Hamilton Effect.

8:00am - Egg and beans on toast for the second straight morning.

A 99-octane feast that encapsulates the taste of Silverstone.

7:40am - The first klaxon of the morning sounds on the campsite and triggers a brief chain reaction.

Germans plump for round-the-clock beer, Bratwurst and fireworks. Britons are happy with the occasional blast of an air horn and - at this time of day, at least - a cup of tea.

Friday, 6 July

4:04pm - Coincidence is a wonderful thing.

Discussing Lewis Hamilton and the subject of young driver development during a press conference, Red Bull Racing sporting director Christian Horner talks enthusiastically about his own company's driver development programme. As he does so, the screens in the media room show South African GP2 racer Adrian Zaugg (sponsor: Red Bull) careering backwards across the grass at Becketts.

3:34pm - Long queues, loud cheers, empty grandstands.

Fresh from the weighing room at the end of the second free practice session, Lewis Hamilton takes a stroll along the pit wall. The main grandstand goes suitably bonkers: unfortunately, it's bordering on empty. Other parts of the circuit are rather busier, which partly explains the unexpected traffic jams that took a lot of people by surprise this morning. Some spectators queued for an hour or more to get in: the circuit authorities closed several car parks in a bid to prevent them becoming too churned up over the weekend. Oh, and the one-way traffic system on the nearby A43 wasn't operational. Silverstone subsequently puts out a press release to say sorry.

2:00pm - Afternoon tea, British-style.

Time for tea and biscuits as second free practice begins. Bernie Ecclestone might complain about the standard of Silverstone's facilities - fair enough in the case of the footbridge over the pit straight, which was last modified when cloth helmets and centre throttle pedals were all the rage - but no other media room can match Silverstone when it comes to providing an endless symphony of snacks.

1:35pm - No bull as DC re-signs.

Red Bull, the brand that prides itself on youth and vigour, confirms that David Coulthard will be retained in 2008. Fact: Coulthard is 36. Other fact: with Mark Webber staying, too, the team will have an aggregate driver age of 68 next season.

12:50pm - British hero Button 'backs' out of second practice.

Nick Heidfeld's participation in the previous weekend's French Grand Prix was briefly thrown into doubt by a back injury, sustained during a test at Silverstone. And now the circuit has struck again, in an identical manner - Jenson Button is declared unfit to take part in the afternoon's second free practice session.

10:24am - Quick 'off' can't keep Lewis off top spot.

To add to his list of seasonal landmarks, Lewis Hamilton becomes the first Formula 1 driver to prompt a yellow flag at Silverstone 2007. He completes a quick pirouette at Abbey, but recovers swiftly and goes on to set fastest time in first practice.

8:40am - McLaren dazzling the paddock, both on the track and off it.

The essence of all British race tracks - egg, beans and toast in the paddock caf? (which isn't actually in the paddock, because Bernie Ecclestone considers such things an eyesore). About 50 metres away, on the other side of a security fence, stands McLaren's new Brand Centre - a slightly posh motorhome, in plain English. It takes 20 people two days to erect, is three storeys high and features wirelessly connected games consoles so Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso can race each other from their own separate rest areas. It is designed to last the team until 2012.

7:05am - Rain gives way to wind as Silverstone 2007 is go!

The bark of someone else's generator provides the dawn chorus as F1's fourth grand prix in five weekends swings into life. Yesterday's persistent rain has stopped but our motorhome is swaying gently in a fierce breeze. Outside, many similar vehicles are parked at a riot of angles; that's simply how they finished up when they slewed into their bays. The temperature is more March than July, but the atmosphere - as always during British Grand Prix weekends - is magnificent, a cocktail of adrenaline and frying bacon. The main gate is a 15-minute stroll away.

 

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