- Goodwood Festival of Speed preview
Speed in West SussexChris Medland June 29, 2012
After Valencia, Formula One effectively heads home to Britain ahead of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on July 8. Before then, though, the teams will be rolling out previous years' cars to steam up a famous motorsport hill.
This weekend the Formula One fraternity heads to Goodwood for the Festival of Speed - a celebration of all things automotive - to enjoy three days of (relatively) stress-free time in the grounds of Goodwood House; displaying their own cars, admiring others and getting closer to motorsport fans than could be possible at a grand prix.
Each year the festival has a theme which is reflected in the choice of machinery on display. After last year's 'Racing Revolutions', 2012 takes on the theme of 'Young Guns - Born to Win', which is described as 'celebrating drivers and riders and designers and engineers whose supreme talent and insatiable thirst for speed shocked the establishment, affording them immediate superstar status.'
As a result of the theme, it's not only the cars that have been carefully selected, but also the drivers. Lewis Hamilton, Emerson Fittipaldi and Sir Stirling Moss will all be in action, and while Hamilton is predictably in a McLaren (last year's MP4-26 as well as the MP4-12C supercar) the other two also help celebrate a secondary theme this year - Lotus: Past, Present and Future.
The organisers explain: 'The 2012 Festival will celebrate the past, present and future achievements of Lotus as this pioneering British race and sports car manufacturer marks a number of important anniversaries in 2012. Inspired by the incomparable Colin Chapman, this small British company utilised unparalleled technical ingenuity to dominate all levels of motor sport, from club racing to Formula 1, creating a glorious and enduring legacy. A spectacular collection of winning Lotus cars, from F1, Indycars, saloons and sports cars, will be a key attraction at this year's Festival.'
To this end, Fittipaldi will be driving a Lotus 49C and 72 on the hill, while Moss will take to the wheel of a Lotus 18 (as well as a Jaguar CK120 and C-type throughout the weekend). Emanuele Pirro and Nicolas Prost will also drive Lotuses on the hill - the latter in a modern car - while Jacky Ickx is reunited with a Lotus 72E having scored three podiums in one during the 1974 and 1975 seasons.
It's not just Lotus that is well represented, though. McLaren also runs Jenson Button in the same cars as Hamilton, while Red Bull will be present with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber making appearances. Both will drive the RB6 while Vettel also displays an Infiniti FX Vettel, whereas Christian Horner and Adrian Newey will be in the FOS-Tech class. From Ferrari Marc Gene will cover the 1.16-mile climb, while Mercedes has Nico Rosberg displaying a W02 on the Sunday.
Caterham is also present throughout the weekend, with Giedo van der Garde on duty for both Friday and Saturday before Heikki Kovalainen takes over on the Sunday.
As far as other old boys go, Sir Jackie Stewart, John Surtees and Jochen Mass will all also be in action. Stewart will drive a BRM P261 which took him to two victories in the Sixties and a Mercedes-Benz W194, Surtees will display his skills on two and four wheels with a ride on a F-type Experimental Prototype motorcycle as well as driving a Lotus 18, and Mass will drive a Mercedes-Benz W125.
Tony Brooks and Richard Attwood will also be in action, with Brooks driving a Connaught B-type and Attwood also getting behind the wheel of the BRM P261 as well as a McLaren M20.
In recent years Formula One cars have been prevented from doing official timed runs up the hill for safety reasons, but one treat this year is the return of the record holder. Nick Heidfeld will drive the McLaren MP4/13 in which he set the record time of 41.6 seconds back in 1999.
If you need more, there will also be numerous sports cars, road cars and motorcycles. But Formula One fans will see modern machinery, classic cars, current drivers and past legends, all in one place in fantastic surroundings. What more could you want?
Chris Medland is assistant editor at ESPNF1