THE 2018 British Grand Prix will go down in history for all the wrong reasons.
The weather, the crash during Saturday’s FP4 which saw Tito Rabat’s leg broken in three places and the thousands of disappointed fans who waited out the weather in the hope that rain wouldn’t stop play.
Unfortunately there was to be no race, due to puddles of standing water on the recently resurfaced track. It wasn’t the rain’s fault – MotoGP races were run at Silverstone in 2011 and 2015 in similar conditions – but rather that of the ‘bumpy’, ‘poorly drained’ asphalt, resurfaced by Aggregate Industries back in February. These surface issues had been raised previously, both by Formula 1 drivers and Bemsee club racers.
Despite the continuous efforts of marshals and Silverstone employees to clear the track, the decision was taken at 4pm on Sunday by race organiser Dorna to cancel the race. Silverstone had said that it would keep trying to run the race until dusk, but all of the riders present at the emergency meeting, bar 2, voted not to race.
Not since the 1980 Austrian Grand Prix has a race been cancelled due to poor weather and even then it took three feet of snow to stop riders from racing.
While Silverstone Managing Director Stuart Pringle blamed the cancellation on the ‘sheer volume of water’, Race Director Mike Webb thought otherwise and concluded that the problems were "a direct result of the [new] track surface."
"This year with the new surface is the first time we’ve had quite so much standing water in critical places on the track.
“It depends entirely on the rain, how consistent and how long it is. In Moto2 practice when it was raining it was a normal session. But when the water does not drain away from the surface it builds up, so if you have had relatively light rain for a long time you get surface water.
“For the first two hours it is fine, but then [the surface water] gets worse and worse. It is a unique situation and we’ve never had to cancel a race like this.”
Pringle confirmed on Tuesday that an investigation into the track was already underway, and measures have been taking to prevent the same situation occurring again. One such measure is holding next weekend’s ninth BSB round over Silverstone’s 1.64-mile national circuit rather than the Grand Prix layout, cutting out some of the areas which were worst affected by standing water.
Of the riders present during the emergency safety commission meeting late Sunday afternoon only Jack Miller and Johann Zarco wanted to race. Current championship leader Marc Marquez was among the majority who were in favour of calling off the race, but denies that his decision was motivated by a desire to protect his current 59-point lead.
With seven rounds left to run there’s still time for the MotoGP tables to turn. But one thing’s for sure, unless Silverstone sorts its surface out, fans will be forking out only slightly more to visit foreign rounds next year.