There was a feeling of quiet anticipation in Brackley this week as the news sunk in that British driver Lewis Hamilton had signed for the town’s Formula One team.
Many were left shocked at last week’s news which sparked a flurry of rumours that both Lewis and his on/off girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger had been spotted in the town.
But after the town’s last taste of glory with Jenson Button and Brawn GP in 2009, many were glad the team line-up will now included a home grown British talent.
Nigel Wiles, landlord of the Red Lion pub, said the news was generating some excitement among his punters.
He said: “Obviously there’s a bit of interest in a British driver joining the local team, and I think everyone’s keen for him to do well. But there’s plenty of people in the town who are bonkers on F1, they’re all hoping Lewis and Nicole might pop in for a glass of wine.”
Advertiser motorsport correspondent James Beckett said: “I think it’s good for the team. They have got some work to do, and if anybody can get the best out of a car, it’s certainly Lewis. In 2014 there will be changes to the formula, going to V6 engines, so it is a reduction in capacity, and there will be a major shake up across the category, and Mercedes are one of the companies that have put their hand up to say they will supply engines for it.
“The cars will be similar, but they’ll have a new engine package, so it’s back to square one again in terms of development.
“And it is an advantage being in a factory team. If you’re driver in any realm of motorsport the desire is always to drive for the engine manufacturer. You tend to get the latest innovations first.
“But with new engines for the whole category it will be interesting times. It has been a surprise as many people didn’t think he would move away from McLaren.”
Last Friday Brackley Mayor Chris Cartmel began the welcome party.
As a former Mercedes Benz employee working at the car manufacturer’s Milton Keynes headquarters, Mr Cartmell said he was overjoyed to see Lewis Hamilton sign for the team.
He said: “I’m looking forward to the possibility of maybe seeing him here in Brackley.”
Mr Cartmell said the F1 team was an important part of Brackley, located in a prominent position at the entrance of the town, and that he is looking forward to a repeat of the 2009 victory parade when Brawn GP won the championship with Jenson Button.
Mr Cartmell added: “When you arrive in Brackley from Oxford the first thing you see is Mercedes Benz on the right hand side, and the next thing you see is the three pointed star on the roundabout. It is great to have a blue chip, prestigious company based in Brackley.”
Hamilton, 27, will end his 14-year association with McLaren at the end of the season and join the team currently fifth in this year’s championship. The three year deal is reportedly worth £15 million a year.