The Goodwood Festival of Speed returns this weekend, with a usual stellar line-up of both cars and drivers. Here are the top 10 things to watch out for...
The Goodwood Festival of Speed has become a mainstay of UK motorsport, with thousands of fans drawn to the West Sussex-based estate each year to witness a plethora of machines take on the 1.16-mile course.
This year promises to be just the same, with modern F1 machinery, pre-war examples and everything in-between set to take on the hillclimb course.
The usual stars from across the spectrum of motorsport will also be in attendance, from Mercedes Formula 1 rising star George Russell to 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell.
Here are the top 10 things to look out for at the event this year, which will be livestreamed on Motor1.com and Motorsport.tv each day.
The hill at ‘30’
This year’s Festival of Speed will be the 29th edition since the first running in 1993, when a one-day event drew 25,000 spectators. Since then, the event has grown and grown and, but for being cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19, would now be reaching its 30th edition. As ever, the centre of the action is the challenging 1.16-mile hillclimb course.
Hillclimbing at Goodwood actually dates back to 1936 when the grandfather of the current Duke of Richmond and Gordon hosted an event on the estate. The Festival of Speed pre-dates the return of racing to the Goodwood circuit and continues to draw a capacity crowd of 150,000. Within the course are a series of challenges, including the left-handed Molecomb corner and the sweep around the intimidating Flint Wall before the narrow and tunnel-like rush to the finish line.
A year ago it was Rob Bell who won the shootout in the McLaren 720S GT3 with a best of 45.01 seconds. If conditions are right, the pace will be stronger still this weekend.
George Russell to wow the fans
Britain’s new Formula 1 star George Russell is the latest big name confirmed to be at Goodwood this weekend. Russell will attend on Sunday and is sure to be incredibly popular with the fans after his superb start to his first F1 season with the Mercedes team. He will be in action, too, handling a 2019 championship-winning W10 grand prix car on the hill.
Russell has thrilled UK fans by finishing in the top five in the first eight F1 races of 2022 and is currently outscoring teammate Lewis Hamilton. Russell’s appearance will be part of an array of current and very recent F1 cars due on the hill at 1220 and 1430 on Sunday.
Of course, Goodwood is all about the stars coming out to honour the story of the sport, with heroes from racing, rallying and two wheels all on hand. Former world champions Damon Hill and Mika Hakkinen will be there, along with ex-F1 drivers Rene Arnoux, Jacky Ickx, Jochen Mass, Hans Stuck and Arturo Merzario. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti, meanwhile, will drive Gordon Murray’s T50 supercar.
Chasing glory in the shootout
For the fans of competition, the Sunday afternoon shootout is a pinnacle of the Festival of Speed as the fastest drivers in the fastest cars compete against the clock for the honour and glory of posting the best time of the weekend. A wide variety of nearly 70 cars from across the weekend entry will get another shot at the hill, topped by six-time shootout winner Justin Law in his Group C Jaguar XJR-12D.
For the audience, it’s a wonderful conclusion to the event as the most spectacular cars and drivers push to the very limit. For two decades Nick Heidfeld held the outright record of 41.60 seconds in a McLaren MP4/13.
But that was finally topped in 2019 when French ace Romain Dumas (above) powered the all-electric Volkswagen I.D. R to the top of the hill in 39.90s in the first sub-40s run. This year’s joker in the pack is the outrageous McMurtry Speirling electric fan car with 1000bhp per tonne and current British Hillclimb Championship leader Alex Summers and Max Chilton sharing driving duties.
Mansell mania is back
The 30th anniversary of Nigel Mansell’s Formula 1 world crown will be a central point of the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Mansell will jump into several iconic cars from his career, including the Williams FW14B that he drove in his 1992 title-winning season. Mansell, 68, will also handle a Lotus 91 and two Ferrari grand prix cars on the Sussex hill.
Mansell carved a place in British motorsport history during his F1 career as a gutsy and determined driver who overcame challenges and setbacks to get to F1 and prove his ability. A broken neck and the sale of his house to fund an F3 campaign never kept Mansell from realising his dream, and the fans loved him.
“I’m looking forward to getting behind the wheel of some of my cars again,” says the man that the Italians called Il Leone. Goodwood fans will surely cheer him to the roof as he makes a relatively rare appearance at the wheel of GP machinery.
The all-electric future may not be everybody’s idea of motoring utopia, but Goodwood continues to embrace this technology and will have a significant display of electric vehicles within its Electric Avenue.
Run for the second time, the focus on electric vehicles will cover a wide range of road machinery, from city cars to hypercars and SUVs. Tagged as ‘the road to 2030’, the display becomes increasingly relevant as the deadline for the end of the sale of fossil-fuel vehicles in the UK looms larger. Highlights should include the premiere of the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 e-Performance.
Given that the outright hill record is held by the Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak car, electric power is a now a significant part of the Festival of Speed weekend. Half a dozen electric competition vehicles will be in action on the hill in the ‘Sparks of Genius’ class, headed by the McMurtry Speirling and former hill record holder Nick Heidfeld in a Gen3 Formula E car from the Mahindra team. Meanwhile, the Extreme E off-road competition will have Odyssey 21 vehicles from the Andretti and Veloce teams.
Rainey’s emotional return
Motorbike legend Wayne Rainey will be reunited with his 500cc World Motorcycle Championship-winning Yamaha YZR500 for the Festival of Speed. Rainey was left paralysed from the waist down in a 1993 accident at Misano but will ride his famous bike, adapted with hand controls, for the first time in 29 years.
Rainey, 61, will be joined by Mick Doohan and Kevin Schwantz, two of his greatest rivals, as well as fellow racer and team boss Kenny Roberts. “I never thought I’d have the chance to throw a leg over a grand prix bike again,” says Rainey. “And I certainly never thought I’d have an opportunity to share a track with Kenny, Mick and Kevin. This could only happen at the Festival of Speed.”
It will be a first appearance at Goodwood for the Californian, who won his three 500cc world titles with Roberts’s official Yamaha squad. “Wayne’s determination to make this all happen is no surprise,” says Roberts. “I can promise there will not be a dry eye in the house.”
M people moving on up the hill
The festival celebrates the 50th anniversary of the BMW Motorsport division, simply dubbed M for motorsport, which is a headline element of this year’s event. It was launched in May 1972 to take BMWs and make them competition winners, starting with the first three-litre CSL and running through to recent and future Le Mans prototypes.
Half a century ago the BMW CSL ‘Batmobile’ brought BMW success in the European Touring Car Championship, and has been followed by many more iconic machines, including the evocative M3 touring car, the straight-six-engined M1 Procar, which had its own race series that included Formula 1 stars of the day, and more recent touring and GT cars as well as the 1999 Le Mans-winning V12 LMR. The wailing V12 prototype will be sensational on the hill.
Bringing the story up to date will be the new V8 M Hybrid LMDh prototype, which could have a Le Mans future. But the fastest M car on the hill could just be the 1978 BMW M12-engined March 782 F2 car of Ben Mitchell.
The anniversary edition
Two major anniversaries will be honoured with dedicated classes of cars as the Festival celebrates 40 years of Group C racing and 75 years of Ferrari. A sublime group of 30 Ferraris will tell the story of the Prancing Horse, from a 1947 125S through to this year’s 488 GT3 car. Standouts include two 156 ‘sharknose’ F1 car recreations, a 250 GTO from the Bamford collection, Marino Franchitti driving a 512S, Derek Bell in a 365 GTB/4, Marc Gene in an F60 grand prix car from 2009, and Nigel Mansell at the wheel of a rare 639 F1 test car from 1989.
More than a dozen Group C cars will honour the 40th anniversary of the start of one of the best-loved eras in international sportscar racing, with machines from Porsche, Lancia, Jaguar, Mercedes, Aston Martin, Nissan and Ford. Drivers Henri Pescarolo (Porsche 962), Bell (Porsche 956) and Emanuele Pirro (Lancia LC2) will be the crowd-pleasing stars, but historic and modern prototype racing ace Alex Brundle, son of F1 and Group C racer Martin, will be quick in a Sauber-Mercedes C9.
Rally stage action
Now firmly established as an integral part of the Festival of Speed, the rally stage will host lots of off-road action, with a key theme being a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the ill-fated Group B regulations. The best Group B cars on hand, from a category that was banned after less than five years as simply too dangerous, will be the Peugeot 205 T16 and the Audi Quattro, while several MG Metro 6R4s will deliver a wonderful soundtrack.
A wide array of rally cars, from as early as 1966, will track this branch of the sport across half a century and take the story up to date with modern R5 and Rally2 cars from British championship contender Tom Williams, the flamboyant Martin McCormack and young prospect George Lepley. Elsewhere, on the main hill half a dozen Lancias, from the Fulvia of the late 1960s to the Group A Delta Integrale of the early 1990s, will relive the Italian company’s glory days. A Stratos and an 037 will also showcase more than two decades of Lancia rallying success.
The cutting edge
While much of the Goodwood ethos is to celebrate the history of the sport, the Festival of Speed has always been a forward-facing event. It is a chance for British fans to see some of the latest cars and bikes from international motorsport. Bringing the endurance racing story up to date will be the Glickenhaus 007-Pipo Hypercar, which finished third at Le Mans earlier this month. Current cars from GT racing, the British Touring Car Championship, Formula E and rallying will all be strutting their stuff on the hill.
At the very cutting edge will be the McMurtry Speirling, a one-seat, 1000bhp electric-powered track special with massive fans in the rear to generate huge amounts of downforce. Not since the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix-winning Brabham BT46B F1 design appeared in the 1979 Gunnar Nilsson Memorial Trophy time trial at Donington Park has a fan car competed in motorsport. That will all change at the weekend and it promises to be an incredible spectacle. Just like the rest of the Festival of Speed!
Footage of the Goodwood Festival of Speed will be livestreamed on Motor1.com each day. Watch day 1 here.