Aintree is a racecourse for horses up near Liverpool and so it might seem to be a strange place from which to write a Green Notebook column. Aintree is famous for its Grand National horse race, but for a few years it also hosted the British Grand Prix and because of this someone at Silverstone decided to name a corner after the old venue. This is a bit odd as there is no corner named Brands Hatch. Anyway, the reality is that I have not been to Liverpool but rather visited Aintree Corner at Silverstone (Turn 5) in the middle of the night on Sunday. It was after 11pm and a dozen international F1 journalists were keen to get away from Silverstone after a 16-hour day “at the office”.

Being an F1 journalist is not the kind of job for folks who think much about statutory leave or “time off in lieu”. The real F1 media (and there is a very large group of people who pretend to do the job) get on with things and do what we have to do, whatever it takes. There isn’t much space in the industry for anyone who witters about wellness and mental health (except, perhaps, in some marketing departments). We all accept that F1 is for people who are a bit mad and we’re fine with that. But it is fair to say that sometimes the sport can wear you down. A triple-header is tough for those who do all the races (although the number of people doing them is decreasing each year). Since my I got a new car, just before Canada, I’ve done 8,000 km. It is less stressful than airports, but sometimes going from place to place takes a long time. I drove to Silverstone from Austria, but I still had time for a pleasant day in London and an agreeable lunch on Thursday. But it wasn’t hugely restful…

Silverstone is a big place, an old airfield of around 750 acres and the track tries to use every square inch to make money. As a result, the F1 Media parks up at the north end of the circuit, behind the old pits, and we then climb on double-decker buses, lugging all our paraphernalia, to take a quaint ride down to The Wing. The French shrug and say: “So British…” but we all laugh at the tradition of muddling through. They, of course, have similar traditions, having won the Battle of the Marne in 1914 using taxis…

Walking from the parking to the Media Centre is possible, but not recommended unless you enjoy people who feel powerful in hi-viz clothing. It takes 25 minutes in daylight.

As long as the traffic flows and the buses still run on Sunday nights, after most people have gone home, everything is ok. Over the years I have had a few adventures at circuits late at night, notably being locked inside Spa and having to climb over the fence to get out. We were also locked in at Silverstone one year, but we managed to find a security man with a key. We are often told that services will go on as long as is necessary. The Media Centres stay open, in theory at least, “until the last journalist leaves”.

Having been the last on many occasions, I know that this is not always true. Sure enough, on Sunday night at Silverstone, we encountered a hi-viz person at the bus stop who had a radio. He was convinced to use it to discover whether there were any buses still running. After a few minutes of “Roger this!” and “Roger that!” we discovered that we had been rogered and no bus would come – and we were on our own.  Without any ado, we all set off through the darkness, listening to our colleagues muttering “scheiß!” and “merde” as they struggled through he darkness and stepped in oozing mud. One could just about see the puddles, but not the mud.

Perhaps it was a good lesson as this is the kind of thing that spectators go through all the time, but we were just not in the mood. The end result was that the event was let down by a poorly-chosen contractor after what was otherwise a wonderful day – which is a bit sad.

At the end of a triple-header, with a pretty rainy weekend, the gossip (like the buses) were thin on the ground. It has been a fairly odd silly season with a series of twists and turns which have revived questions which appeared to have been previously answered.

A month ago Red Bull signed a new two-year contract with Sergio Perez but since then his performances have been slightly west of hopeless and the team is now running out of patience. I wrote about this last week and Silverstone did not improve the situation. Max Verstappen has 255 points, Sergio 118. He has slipped from second to sixth in the championship and both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton will overtake him before the summer break if the current trends continue. The team has tried to kick him up the posterior because it is worried that the other teams will overtake in the Constructors’ Championship. This, of course, is the mechanism used to decide the F1 prize money, so it really is rather important. The only good news for Red Bull is that while Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes are all pretty decent they are now taking points off one another, which means that Red Bull is staying ahead for now. But that could quickly change. If Perez cannot up his game, he will be removed and no amount of outrage from Mexican fans (of which there is always plenty) will help.

The big question, however, is what is the best thing for Red Bull to do. The firm thought that by putting Daniel Ricciardo into VCARB there would be a clear successor to Perez, but the Australian has struggled to set the world on fire.  He has scored 11 points to Yuki Tsunoda’s 20, although he has done better of late. Has he done enough to warrant a promotion, rather than the much-rumoured departure? And is Liam Lawson the better option? Last year he did five races when Daniel broke his hand and he scored once and was 11th twice. He beat Tsunoda in three of the five races.

The Red Bull problem is exacerbated by the fact that if Lawson is not offered a race seat in 2025, he can leave Red Bull and sign elsewhere. Red Bull does not want this but it has five drivers for four drives. If the world was logical, Tsunoda would be promoted to Red Bull Racing and VCARB would take Lawson and some youngster – Isack Hadjar being the first in line – but no-one ever accused Dr Helmut Marko of being entirely logical. Spanish fans inevitably feel that Red Bull should take back Carlos Sainz, but I see no sign of that happening. Similarly, one could argue that Mercedes should take Sainz, but I see little evidence of that either as the Brackley team’s strategy is clearly to promote Andrea Kimi Antonelli from Formula 2. 

Sainz has been dithering about his future and it looks like he has now lost his chance at Williams. The team was very keen and a deal was very close but at the last minute Carlos wanted more time. Williams feels that if he can’t commit to its project, he is not the right man for the job. The team is looking for someone who wants to be part of its crusade to scale the heights of F1 again rather than someone who is thinking only of his own career.

Valtteri Bottas looks like a better bet in these circumstances as the Finn knows the team and has worked with team boss James Vowles at Mercedes. This is not just speculation. I had an amusing time early on Saturday morning when I bumped into Valtteri as he was leaving Vowles’s office, clad all in black, like a Ninja, and wearing a black cap, squeezed down on his flowing blond locks.

My cheery “Morning, Valtteri” was greeted with a vague grunt.

Half an hour later, I saw him coming into the paddock, dressed in full Team Kermit Sauber uniform.

“I see you’re liveried up now,” I said.

“I heard you met my twin brother,” he replied… with a smile.

Trying to have secret meetings is a difficult business. In the old days, they resorted to such canny tricks as parking private jets not to one another in secluded corners of airports and then scurrying aboard one or the other. There is also the option of sneaking into hotel rooms for discussions but this is risky.

What you do not do is to take people on secret tours of facilties and Aston Martin giving Andy Cowell on a tour of its new factory was a bit of a giveaway. Doing tours of factories is a bit like putting out a press release. There is always someone who will see a secret visitor and they tell someone  else and they will tell two others and so news will spread. Over the years I’ve picked up stories from the weirdest places because someone blabbed to someone, who blabbed to someone, who told their hairdresser, and so on… The problem with these kind of Chinese whispers is the story is often twisted along the way and the cut and paste brigade will always just copy without knowing if something is true or not, in the hope that it is and they will look clever. Anyone can hear things, the trick is being able to confirm them… not that this bothers people on social media these days.

Fortunately, I was able to confirm Cowell’s movements and he has since been named as Martin Whitmarsh’s replacement.  The team also announced that it has signed Enrico Cardile from Ferrari to be its new CTO, which was rumoured. It as also taken on Bob Bell as its “Executive Director – Technical”. There seems to be more chiefs than Native Americans (as the modern saying goes) at Aston Martin.

Cowell is a good catch and more so because the word is that he was being courted by Tesla, an interesting story in that Elon Musk’s firm is currently only manufacturing electric cars. Might it be considering creating hybrid vehicles to follow the industry trend now that electric cars are falling out of fashion?

The thing that this suggests is that Adrian Newey is probably not going to Aston because the top technical management seems to be rather crowded. Down at Ferrari they are looking for a chief technical officer and logic might suggest that Newey has to be the one Ferrari wants. Perhaps so, but there is still no sign of Adrian showing any real interest in the idea.  Jeremy Clarkson, an old friend of Newey, told Dutch TV on the grid in Silverstone (after checking who the interviewer represented) that Newey is house-hunting in Oxfordshire, not in Italy. This led to lots of speculation about Adrian at Williams, although Clarkson is a fan of Alpine (because he lives nearby) and so he may just have been stirring the pot.

Of course, the hiring of Newey would be the kind of stunt that Flavio Briatore might want to pull, but it is hard to imagine Newey committing himself to a team that is rumoured to be for sale.

There were a few other bits and bobs but F1 needs a week off to gat some decent rumours going. Hungary is coming and I am sure we will have some more news in Budapest…