Monday, 1 July 2013

Yesterday was brilliant for motoring TV

IN THE middle of a summer stashed full of car shows, last weekend was all about staying in. Specifically, it was about some of the best petrolhead telly in years.

Whether you’re an F1 addict or someone who – like me - occasionally dips into motorsport’s equivalent of the Premier League, the British Grand Prix last weekend offered up some of the most gripping racing I’ve seen in ages. Bored of Wimbledon and unsure whether I’m either too cool or not quite cool enough to get into Glastonbury, I happily flicked over to Silverstone for a bit of V8-powered relief.

Naturally, being British, I wanted Lewis – who’d qualified on pole – to win. If that’d happened I’m pretty sure the Queen herself would have arrived to congratulate him, the Northamptonshire circuit would have been treated to a flypast by the Red Arrows and the nation would have breathed a collective sigh of relief after realizing we can still win at something. Unfortunately, a bit of a puncture on his Pirellis, early on into the race, left him at the back of the grid. Lewis’ loss, however, was the fans’ gain, because it was one of the tensest races I’ve seen in years.

The screamer from Stevenage didn’t manage to win, but he did succeed in getting from last to fourth, via some pretty spectacular driving, while Mark Webber came out of nowhere to snatch second. Meanwhile, in my living room, I grunted the excited squeak of a farmyard animal when Sebastian Vettel’s gearbox gave up the ghost. Frankly, I loved the whole unpredictable spectacle. Speaking of the predictable, I’d been counting down the days until that other great staple of petrolhead telly – Top Gear – romped back into the schedules later that evening, regardless of whether you love it or hate it.

For what it’s worth, I still think there’s a yawning great chasm – probably somewhere in the depths of BBC Four – for a proper, sensible TV show about all matters motoring, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy TG’s return. The more flak that gets thrown at Top Gear by Daily Mail readers, the stronger the show’s content seems to get – and Jezza, Slow and Hamster have been through the usual barrage of pre-show criticsm. That’s why I’m expecting great things from the hour I swap the driver’s seat for the sofa each Sunday night.

Car shows every other weekend, some vaguely summer-esque weather to enjoy driving for a change and Top Gear on Sunday nights to round it all off nicely. Much better than standing around in a field in Somerset waiting for Mumford and Sons, I reckon!

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