The British Grand Prix has rightfully earned its place on the country’s world-renowned summer sporting calendar alongside golf’s Open Championship, Wimbledon, Henley Royal Regatta, the Lord’s Test and more. It’s a vital part of our summer. There is also no doubt that the successes (or catastrophes) of James Hunt, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and others over the years have made it an event for the fervent crowd to put its full weight behind whichever Brit needed support. Rain or shine, it’s a cup of tea, bacon sarnie and roar on the hero. That is what race day at Silverstone has always been. Henman and Murray have their hill at Wimbledon…. Lewis has his armada at Woodcote. You get the gist.
That’s why it was so good to watch the Formula 2 races at Silverstone as, guess what, that fanatical crowd will have two Brits to cheer on in years to come. And while the drivers involved might not like the idea, it could well be a head to head that divides a nation. Will the crowd be for George Russell or Lando Norris?
You can almost see the nationalistic tabloid press headlines now…. “Lando lances George” or “George the Brave”. Sport thrives on rivalry. In Nascar Dale Earnhardt was loved and loathed in equal measure. Jeff Gordon too. You could not like both. It was the law.
I for one relish it. Both Norris and Russell are supremely talented, something not lost on Mercedes (Russell) and McLaren (Norris), who have the young guns already under contract. And as you feel from England’s World Cup campaign, this country loves a hero to cheer. Or in this case, we now have…. two.
As a neutral I won’t pick sides. But, my god, isn’t George Russell impressive? His back-to-front drive in Baku was amazing and his two podium finishes at Silverstone warmed up the crowd before the British GP. Quiet and unassuming, he has cemented his points lead as the series heads into the second half. He will be a star
Norris also came from back to front Silverstone. He shared a car with Fernando Alonso at Daytona this year, and is without a doubt a star of the future. If McLaren’s IndyCar team were to go ahead in 2019, I’d have put money on Lando being one of its drivers. That’s just me thinking out loud.
The two are friends, acknowledge each other’s talent, yet both are aiming for the same territory. Now is not a time to take sides, it’s a time to be bloody British and cheer them both on. Who knows, in a year or so, those Lewis flags will be for George or Lando. Then it will be the time to pick sides.
Lando Norris, like Jenson Button, has a name you can’t forget. GeorgeRussell has a name that lights up patriotic fans. My feeling is that we won’t forget either in years to come and we will relish the battle they bring to us.