Belfast Telegraph

Brundle in the pits as King Lewis rules at Silverstone

On the Box: Billy Weir

Silverstone, the British Grand Prix and the name of one hometown hero is on everyone's lips. No, not Lewis Hamilton, but Martin Brundle. The former racer, turned grid-galloper, turned commentator, turned up everywhere once Damon Hill had finished his opening salvo as Sky were as excited as only Sky can be at the prospect of Hamilton winning his fifth race on home tarmac.

"Our Nige knew how to inspire us," he told us as we watched footage of Nigel Mansell winning in the Eighties, and we were, until Nige spoke and we weren't just as inspired anymore, merely mesmerised by his moustache.

"It was here that my dreams came true, the greatest day of my life," said Hill as we watched him win in 1994, and thus ensuring some awkward questions to answer when he got home to Mrs Hill.

The nostalgia continued as Brundle took a fascinating look back at the Williams racing team's 40 years in the sport, including Hill's dismissal from the team, when he was shown the door by team boss, Frank.

"He sacked me in a very charming way," revealed Hill. "It's always been about Team Willy," he added, and we looked away just in case this trip down memory pit lane got out of hand.

Soon another landmark was noted, presenter Simon Lazenby telling us that it was the 20th anniversary of another "Formula One institution" - Brundle's grid walk, which, if we're being brutally frank, and I don't mean Williams, is more akin to a man having escaped from an institution. Hill was our guide again, remembering 1997 fondly.

"In 1997 many things started. I joined Arrows, Chumbawamba and a man called Martin did his very first grid walk," he said as we settled back and watched a master at work, although it did have the feel of an obituary about it.

That wasn't helped when we cut back to the pits to find Lazenby and Hill joined by F1 chief Ross Brawn and a shiny gold microphone trophy, all with big serious faces on them.

"Some great memories and unfortunate timing. I'd love to be reminiscing with Martin Brundle right now but unfortunately he's been taken ill. I think he's gone off to the medical centre and hopefully we'll have more news on that," he said, and suddenly the party was as deflated as a Ferrari's Pirelli.

It turns out, happily, that Brundle only had a stomach virus, or, as it's known in F1 circles, a bad dose of the pits. Brawn presented the trophy to Hill and former F1 racer, turned test driver, turned man standing beside TV Paul di Resta turned into co-commentator alongside David Croft for the day.

At short notice the Scotsman did admirably well, although Brundle was probably regretting his decision to nibble on that haggis sandwich a cackling Di Resta had offered him earlier in the day.

Things felt a bit flat, which was the theme for the day as Hamilton roared off into the distance at the start and was never seen again, while behind him the worse case of blisters since Marin Cilic's feet put a spoke in Ferrari's hopes.

"Martin, we hope you are recovering, we missed you in the commentary box, I'm sure you would have loved to have seen this superb drive by Hamilton," concluded Croft as news reached us that Brundle had spent most of his afternoon on his hands and knees yodelling into a large white appliance in the Mercedes hospitality area.

And as Hamilton crowd-surfed and started the party in earnest, Lazenby brought us more news from the medical centre, where after much Chumbawamba, Brundle, who had been knocked down, had got up again.

"He is back on his feet, he's a bit dizzy and it looks like he's on the mend," he said, but best not mention it's Hungary up next as that could set him off again, while in the background an angry Scotsman was unmasked and taken away complaining he would have got away with it but for those pesky skids.

 

The good, the bad and the ugly

THE GOOD: And so Roger Federer was crowned Wimbledon’s GOAT (that’s Greatest Of All Time to the uninitiated), winning his eighth title against Marin Cilic, who, in keeping with the tournament, limped to the end. A clearly confident Federer turned up at the post-match press conference with a T-shirt which read ‘Ro8er’, although on the back it probably said ‘8OAT – beat a man with one le8’.

THE BAD: Sky Sports have relaunched yet again with a myriad of designated channels for various sports, thus confusing everyone as to where things are. One thing we can be sure of is that they will be full of repeats and nonsense like the weekend’s Soccer Sixes tournament and now the Asia Cup with Leicester taking on West Brom in Hong Kong at 10.30 on a Wednesday morning. Roll on the new season.

THE UGLY: Spare a thought for Tyrone’s two-goal Ulster final hero Ronan O’Neill, whose fine double strike made him the talk of Clones, but it was a shame RTE commentator Ger Canning couldn’t figure out who he was. “Stuck away by the man in the corner, with a big smile on his face, superbly done,” he said very slowly as someone whispered in his lug who had scored the first. At least he’d be okay for the second, a sublime chip and now everyone would know his name. “It’s Mattie Donnelly,” proclaimed Canning before again being corrected. “Ronan O’Neill’s the man who correctly takes the credit, he’ll have a message for Mickey Harte,” added Canning. Let’s hope he knows who he is.

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