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GP Week : Issue 50
>>GPWEEKOPINION apparent ease. And it’s not getting even remotely boring, because you know he’s just that same proper bloke. Even with the success, you’d still want to have a pint with him and you sense that actually he’d be just the same guy he was in the shitbox he drove last year. Because JB’s just JB. It’s why the British public love him. You can’t create that kind of a persona. No amount of PR training, media management nor publicity drives can give a driver what Jenson has… that air of natural, effortless cool. Not an arrogant cool mind you… your best mate kind of cool. Sure we’ve had British winners at Silverstone over the last 17 years, but have any of them been as much a man of the public as Jenson? His flags have been waving even in the darkest of sporting times. And in 2009 they will fly at Silverstone for the last time. This is it for this great circuit. Closing time. No going back. What a fitting finale it would be for a driver who encapsulates everything that kes at their best wrong as they rode wheel to wheel at more than 200 mph (320kmh). They might as well have been racing in between stone walls, bus stops and wire fences as between gravel traps and nice puffy air-fencing. Back in the 1950s, 1960s and even 1970s they would have been. And this time they would have got away with it. Two riders did fall at Catalunya: Elias and Takahashi. Odds on, at the Isle of Man, at least one of them might not have survived. Certainly Pedrosa’s tumble into the air-fence in practice would have had a different outcome if it had been a solid brick wall. If it had been though, he wouldn’t have been riding in that way. Racing is quite different, when you have to build in a margin of safety. The worst injury at Catalunya was to 125 rider Danny Webb. He lost a fingernail, which is bad enough. As it turned out, there was only (only!) one fatal race crash on the Isle of Man: an amateur in his late fifties during the Senior TT. Manxman John Crellin was an experienced competitor at bike racing’s Everest; and ironically had recently returned from an expedition to the real Mount Everest. Is GP racing better now, that the risks have gone? Perhaps not. It’s seldom as exciting as this. But it’s certainly a whole lot better now that the paddock doesn’t have to endure several funerals every year. IOM: no room for error ... (Image courtesy iomtt.com) 21 the British love about motor racing to win the last Grand Prix at the track at which this sport began its life. And if he does so, I don’t think there’s a fence in existence that could hold the fans back. You get fans on the track for the podium ceremony at almost every other race of the year, but never at the British Grand Prix. If Silverstone’s got any sense and Jenson wins, they’ll throw those gates wide open. I mean it’s not like they can threaten to take the race away, now is it?