Our Silverstone summer special
Formula 1 has a gift for poetry. On the eve of the Monaco GP, Australia lost its most famous racing son, Sir Jack Brabham. Barely a fortnight later, it's garlanding its latest addition to that small, but rather exclusive club of Aussie Grand Prix winners: Daniel Ricciardo.
He's only the fourth, after Black Jack himself (see Peter Windsor's appreciation, page 84), Alan Jones and - of course - his immediate predecessor at Red Bull, Mark Webber. Two of those became champions, while Webber gave it a 'bloody good lash' in 2010 - and given the form Ricciardo's showing against a vaunted team-mate, who'd bet against him being next in line?
The happy lad from Perth, Western Australia, who arrived in the Silverstone paddock back in 2011, not quite sure where to find the motorhome of his team (the now-defunct HRT - hasn't he come a long way?) continues to charm. But he also has that winners' instinct that must be spoonfed to junior-league Aussie sportsmen: as any rival who takes on an Australian well knows, they just don't know how to give up.
Ricciardo's maiden victory was proof positive of that: sure he benefitted from the KERS failure on both Hamilton's and Rosberg's W05s, but who was there to capitalise after a stirring pass on Sergio Perez? And who had leapfrogged his team-mate earlier in the race during the pitstop sequence?
What a feel-good result for F1 after the whiff of rancour seeping out of the Hamilton-Rosberg tussle. And how nicely Red Bull's against-the-odds win sets up the second two-thirds of the 2014 season, with the British GP only a fortnight away. No one would doubt that Mercedes and one of its pair of aces remain favourites for the title. But Canada showed there are vulnerabilities to exploit, while the rivalry between Nico and Lewis remains pressure-cooker intense. It wouldn't take much to blow the lid off that one - and we don't need to wonder, now, who'd be there to take advantage.
It's reasonable to suspect, though, that Hamilton, whose raw speed has lit up the championship so far, will be riding a wave of popular support as he heads to Silverstone looking for his second British GP victory - his first since 2008. No one knows more about 'crowd-sourcing' a victory than Nigel Mansell, and our man Maurice Hamilton enjoyed a brilliant lunchtime interview with 'Red 5', which you can enjoy on page 98 Fans will be pleased to know that the passing years have done little to mellow Mansell's feisty combativeness and he's relishing the prospect of a re-run of the '92 experience - although it's unlikely we'll have fans so devoted as to claim it's an honour to be run over by the winner, as happened after that unforgettable Nige-feting track invasion.
Silverstone has always had a certain something. Maybe it's the speed-curves arcing through wide-open spaces that lend a little giddy intensity to proceedings; or the chip-fat-bacon-butty waft as you cross to the infield. It's unique -"wild" as Jenson Button describes it on p92 - and unmissable. Northamptonshire in high summer: you couldn't wish to be anywhere else!