‘Special’ spectacle

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IT IS the big one.

Officials are anticipating a record crowd for this weekend’s British Grand Prix. The race day is a sell-out.

More than 300,000 mad motor racing supporters are poised to flock to Silverstone for the ninth round of the Formula One calendar over the course of the three days.

The circuit has been refurbished. There is now a new pit and paddock complex, a 390m-long building that cost £27 million, known as the Silverstone Wing.

It means the start-finish straight has moved, so rather than Copse the first corner will now be Abbey.

John Booth, the team principal and sporting director of Dinnington-based outfit Marussia Virgin Racing, said: “It’s the biggest race of the year. This is one of the most special events on the calendar for our team and one where we hope to pull out all the stops and put on a great show, both on and off the racetrack.Unfortunately this time last year, I didn’t appreciate how big it was.”

He added: “I’ve seen the new pit lane and it is fantastic. No-one can complain about Silverstone now. It was very brave of Damon Hill and his team to spend that amount of money to bring it up to world spec but all credit to them for a first class job in bringing the facility bang up to date to what is now, unquestionably, a world-class racing venue.”

Twelve British drivers have crossed the chequered flag in first position in the British GP, including McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.

The past few weeks have been turbulent ones for Hamilton as he has come under fire for his driving style, whilst his future has also been the subject of intense speculation.

The likes of Niki Lauda and Sir Stirling Moss rounded on the 26-year-old in the wake of the incidents that unfolded in the Monaco and Canadian Grands Prix.

But Booth, who worked with Hamilton during his Manor Motorsport days, has defended the Brit’s aggressive driving style.

“It is refreshing the way Lewis goes about his business,” said Booth. “I think he was a little bit robust in Monaco but the guy tries to overtake and win races. He has not got the fastest car out there at the moment and you can’t knock him for that. He won’t accept being third or fourth.”

Trailing championship leader Sebastian Vettel by 89 points, and in the wake of scoring just 20 in the last three races, there is real urgency on Hamilton to do well in front of his home fans.