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Revamped Silverstone wins over the fans

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Sarah Holt | 22:51 UK time, Saturday, 9 July 2011

At Silverstone

Silverstone's owners have spent £40m in the last two years to modernise the historic Northamptonshire circuit that Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone once famously described as a "country fair masquerading as a world event".

Of that cash, raised by the British Racing Drivers' Club, £28m has been absorbed by a state-of-the-art pits and paddock complex, and the rest has gone on improving spectator facilities.

This year, ticket-holders to the British Grand Prix have their own "fans zone" - which curves round the Luffield section of the old grand prix track - new steeped, grass banks to watch from and two brand new grandstands at Farm and along the pit straight.

There's even the equivalent of Wimbledon's "Henman Hill" - which has been unofficially dubbed Hills' Hill after father-and-son world champions Graham and Damon Hill - where fans can watch the racing from a giant screen.

The new pit complex at Silverstone.

Silverstone has a rebuilt pit lane but not everyone is happy about it. Photo: PA

The philosophy behind the facelift was to give fans the opportunity to rove around in a festival atmosphere - but has the investment improved the experience?

"The last time we came was four years ago and the difference is unbelievable," said Louise Torrance from Aberdeen.

"At the campsites there are now loads of showers, films like The Italian Job at night and a disco as part of the entertainment.

"Was the investment worth it? One hundred percent. We've heard other people saying it's much better than last year, so it can only get better from here on in."

Sarah Davies found herself sharing the weekend with first-time British Grand Prix visitor John Beazley after their mutual friend broke his ankle at the circuit during Friday practice.

Sarah, from Oxford, said: "The medical staff were fantastic. The paramedics took him to the medical centre, set it straight away and took him to hospital."

Beazley, who hails from Sheffield, added: "I've wanted to come for years and years. I've been following motorsport since the Nigel Mansell days and I'm just blown away by the noise and the amazing atmosphere."

The Formula 1 world championship was born at Silverstone 61 years ago when the former World War II airfield hosted the opening round of the sport's inaugural season.

But two years ago Ecclestone was ready to pull the plug on the circuit, leaving the existence of the British Grand Prix in real danger.

The pledge to plunge millions of pounds into Silverstone saved both the circuit and the British GP, and on Sunday a record sell-out crowd of 120,000 fans will come through the gates.

The BRDC can ask for no better vindication than that, but the revamped circuit is not without its problems.

The new pit lane slopes below the level of the track and that means the fans' views of the pit stops from the opposite grandstand are obscured.

The plan had been for the slowest teams on the grid to occupy those garages but the layout was switched so that members of the "Paddock Club" - who pay a premium for their seats - could watch the race-defining stops at Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari.

The team principals at Red Bull and McLaren, who have been bickering for most of the weekend over a controversial change in the sport's technical regulations, were united in their criticism of the issue.

"For those in the grandstands, who can't see the pit stops, it's a bit of a shame," said McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

His Red Bull counterpart, Christian Horner, added: "The spectators are not going to see many Red Bull or McLaren pit stops this weekend. It's not great."

There are also concerns that the relocated podium isn't in front of a grandstand and so fans could be tempted to surge onto the track, just like in less safety conscious days, at the end of the race.

And in times of austerity, it is no surprise that some spectators find Silverstone's ticket prices challenging.

Sarah Davies added: "The prices are expensive. It cost me £300 this weekend which is a lot of money when you're on a budget. Silverstone could do more."

Surprisingly, there was one thing the fans were, on the whole, not complaining about - the temperamental British weather, which sent sheeting rain and gusts of wind across Silverstone.

After all, for British fans there's no place like home.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Ah, the good old days. In 1960, my brother and I hitch-hiked to Silverstone and paid a shilling for entry on practice day and pitched our tent next to the Lotus cars, thus avoiding race day fees of 6 shillings (ground) or a pound (paddock). No toilets or showers for us, but access to cars, pits and drivers. Wonderful.

  • Comment number 2.

    Overhyped sport.
    The true gods of motorsport do the racing on 2 wheels!

  • Comment number 3.

    @1878onwards............


    no.

  • Comment number 4.

    Sarah if it continues to rain at Silverstone it may indeed require a "state-of-the-ark pits and paddock complex".......

  • Comment number 5.

    #300 to watch a motor race for the man in the street earning peanuts while the drivers get paid millions! Seems to me about time the sports and entertainment industries brought their earnings levels and prices down more in line with reality. Why should a handful of 'the elite' win the lottery every week while the rest of us tighten our belts and try to get by in a worsening economic climate?

  • Comment number 6.

    2. @1878onwards

    I have been an avid F1 fan since about 1976. Being absolutely honest with myself I am saddened to say that, these days, I am in total agreement with you. Skills wise, it's not necessarily the drivers fault, the sport itself needs a total overhaul, not some new facilities at a track with nostalgia virtues. It's very difficult to get excited about some overly pampered brats deploying their moveable rear wing.

  • Comment number 7.

    #5 The event is a sell-out. How much more "in line with reality" could a pricing structure be? Personally, I doubt if I'd spend £30 to be there, let alone £300. The difference is, I don't share your sense of entitlement. I can get angry about the cost of watching a club football match, because I feel some kind of ownership of my club, and therefore I feel unhappy about being priced out of it.

    But I don't feel any ownership of grands prix. And neither, clearly, do you – otherwise you would not dismiss this one as 'a motor race'. So why feel aggrieved that you can't afford to go to it? It makes as much sense as being upset about the price of caviar. Aren't there more important things in the world to be angry about?

  • Comment number 8.

    Ownership of a football club. Do me a favour. "My" club has an american owner, and mainly foreign players, is beholden to sponsors and TV. A bit like F1 which is owned by Eccleston.

  • Comment number 9.

    What do you get for your £300 - if it's ev ery day that the F1 itself is there then that's not too bad - still expensive I know but not too bad given how much a music festival costs.

  • Comment number 10.

    Excellent point about ticket prices for the Grand Prix.
    Something has to be done to make the tickets more affordable because they are a joke, especially in the present climate.
    £300.00 is far from the worst though as countries like Belgium, Monaco, Italy, Singapore charge far more.

  • Comment number 11.

    I paid £149 for a three day general admission pass,which also gives you park and ride on sat/sunday and parking at the venue on friday,so its not expensive unless you upgrade to seats.
    I will say that there is not enough toilets and picnic tables there but otherwise well done Silverstone.

  • Comment number 12.

    2. At 01:17 10th Jul 2011, 1878onwards wrote:
    Overhyped sport.
    The true gods of motorsport do the racing on 2 wheels!

    NOT!

  • Comment number 13.

    Went on Friday and it was my first British GP since '93. Could not believe the change in 'boring, flat' Silverstone with meagre facilities in those days to 'State-of-the-ark' (heh, heh - no pun inteneded Sarah?) facilities that are at the spectators disposal. I doff my cap to Damon Hill et al at the BRDC for the magnificent thought and effort that has been done over the last 2 years alone.....and what is planned in the future! Take a bow.
    Regarding the pricing, it goes with the territory. Friday's ticket was a birthday gift, but am struggling to justify £300+ for the weekend. I (think) I paid £12 at Brands Hatch in '84 to attend my first GP and a quick calculation shows that todays prices far outstrips inflation - but then so do most things. In the grand scheme of things, I suppose it is no more than cutting back on a packet of fags and a pint each week for a full blowout for 4 days. Speaking of which, it is great to see no cigarette sponsorship these days on cars except for the barcode on Ferrari and their sponsor giving out free cigarettes over the weekend years ago. As for the the little silver booths dotted round the track selling them, the person selling them looks so wishing they were not in there! Oh, how times have changed in nearly 30 years!!

  • Comment number 14.

    The truth is, the cost would be less if Silverstone did not have to pay so much to host the race and could keep the money received from trackside advertising, half of which does not go to the sport/teams but into some faceless corporation's coffers.

  • Comment number 15.

    Was there yesterday, very impressed with the facilities, made for a very easy day out. Most surprising was the parking, we were out of the gate 3 car park and en route to the A43 in under 10 mins.

  • Comment number 16.

    was there yesterday,i cant complain at the price as i get in free as my father in law works at the circuit but there was certainly a distinct lack of atmosphere ,wether it was the weather or the fact we were sat oppsite the new pits i dont know,got the impression that the people we were sat with were day trippers and not real f1 fans,felt like average Joe public being squeezed out in favour of the prawn sandwich brigade

  • Comment number 17.

    What will make it or break it this year if dry is:

    not the paddock complex.
    the race to the first sharp apex. If they are still close enough to be compacting and attempting overtakes.
    and if DRS works enough but not too much(i.e. past before braking)...OR natural overtaking opportunities.

  • Comment number 18.

    I've been a fan since I was a small boy, about 30 years now, been to the event 3 times in the last 5 or so years. Yesterday I was in Abbey the grandstand opposite the Red Bull McLaren Garage, couldnt see a thing, in fact couldnt see any cars going up the pits. Dreadful design fault. No way on earth could we have seen the podium or even the park ferme where the drivers got out of their cars. The only driver we saw was Button who "climbed" up to the pit wall and gave us all a brief wave. The event was spoilt slightly by the drivers abandoning their last qualifying laps where you'd normally have got a wave after the end of the timed run. Anyway, the wing looks like a badly drawn graph, it doesnt look like engineering excellence to me (i'm sure others will think its fantastic). From the old grandstand you could see the reflection of the cars going up the pits in the windows above, which wasnt good enough, but now you see nothing. The pa was intermittent and the screen too far away to see the leaderboard, and i'd have preferred to see bbc coverage while at the event. Fans who pay stupid amounts of money to see this sport should be given more. On track, the cars, the drivers, the sound, all amazing, but for a grandstand seat I expected a little more from the event, pit action for one. Its a circus, a show, lets see the stars, hear them talk, and bring back donuts. I still loved it though! PS travel from park and ride excellent this year, a few more toilets needed and a few more wet weather mats to walk over the muddy fields would be nice. PPS GP2 great. Porsche supercup - no idea pa not working at all for that one.

  • Comment number 19.

    Im afraid as good as Silverstone gets, being from Derbyshire and having an affinity with my local track there's a part of me will never quite forgive the poisoned dwarf for dropping Donington in the mire purely to lever Silverstone into doing what he wanted.

    Everyone I know who lives close to Donington knew it as a wonderful track which had built up a reputation and Ecclestone has destroyed that. Time will tell if the track recovers but the Wheatcroft family deserved more respect.

  • Comment number 20.

    Could someone please poke Bernie rather hard and remind him that it was only his intransigence that stopped this happening years ago.... That if he was prepared to give these great historic tracks long term deals such as the 17 years Silverstone now had that allows them to raise the capital they need in order to do the improvements they need to 'deserve' to stay in the sport....

    We fans love these older tracks, the drivers love these older tracks, the teams love these older tracks, the older tracks love these older tracks... the only one who doesn't seem to love these older tracks is the one person who loves the money that the new tracks put in his pockets!

  • Comment number 21.

    State of the Ark? I know it looks a bit like a ship, but I think the new pit & paddock complex is a bit more up to date than the Ark :)

    It's still a nightmare to get in to, and it still looks a bit old fashioned around the track, away from the ultra modern parts. I think it's got a way to go until it's like China or Bahrain.

  • Comment number 22.

    1878 onwards YES!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 23.

    Bring back Abbey and Bridge, i reckon!

  • Comment number 24.

    Shurely, shome, mishtake...State of the Art not Ark..unless it rains a lot this afternoon!

  • Comment number 25.

    Husband & I are 2-wheels fans but several years ago won grandstand seats for race day as I worked for Santander. What a disappointment! After the start, we really didn't have a clue who was in what posiion, no idea what was happening elsewhere on the track and could only guess who was who as they flew past. After 15 laps we decamped to the field behind that had a large screen showing the TV coverage. So glad I hadn't paid for the ticket myself.

  • Comment number 26.

    will they all be happy after 6 hours to get out of a field (car park ha)???

    i went to the motor gp and found the lack of big screens surprising and the journey out of the field left a scar.

    doubt if i will return.

  • Comment number 27.

    The price is too high, yet there is obviously a desire by many to go who can't afford it.

    Why not embrace the "Less is More" idea, ie, create more viewing/seating areas but charge less so that more fans attend. A ticket price of £175 is likely to attract many more.
    Quick Example...
    £300 x 100,000 fans = £30,000,000
    £175 x 200,000 fans = £35,000,000

  • Comment number 28.

    State-of-the-Ark before or after the flood? It's an important distinction - must have been full to the rafters towards the end...

    Thanks Sarah, I can see a Typo Of The Year award heading your way!

  • Comment number 29.

    Sarah have you been to the Luffield Section and seen the 'steeped grass banks'?

    Well... there aren't any. Unless you're right at the front you can't see much, even for a tall fella like myself on tip-toes. If they did get large banks there it would be amazing for the regular fans who can't afford £300 for the grandstand tickets.

  • Comment number 30.

    the ticket prices are quite cheap, try buying a season ticket for a top football club. I would imagine most people only go to one F1 race in the season instead of a football match every weekend. you don't see F1 drivers rolling around pretending to injured when they have crash and they appear to be able to conduct themselves properly when not at a race. glad to hear silverstone is getting better, was last there in 2001.

  • Comment number 31.

    The "state-of-the-ark" mistake that a few have picked up on is actually a very interesting case of coronal-dorsal confusion. We can think of coronals like 't' as underspecified in English phonology, hence people may hear phrases like /hæŋ ˈɡlaɪdɪŋ/ and parse it as "hand* gliding", because the default coronal 'd' would be replaced by a dorsal 'g' due to coarticulation. In this case, the author may have heard a phrase like /steɪʔ əv ðiː ɑːk ˈkɒmpleks/ and parsed the surface form "ark" (that arises due to coarticulation with the following velar plosive) as the underlying representation.

    Then again, if you've seen "hang gliding" or "state-of-the-art" in written form, you shouldn't be making these errors. I'd be surprised if Sarah has never seen "state-of-the-art" in a written piece, what with being a Formula 1 writer.

  • Comment number 32.

    STATE OF THE ARK ???

    You're not inviting flooding this afternoon at Silverstone, are you, Sarah ??

    We came by this place two weeks ago, it looked absolutely marvellous. I thought then Button, Hamilton and di Resta would feel at home here. Sad to note, McLaren still haven't done justice to their two drivers, though young Paul seems to be progressing nicely.

    The odds must be long against Red Bull not winning here, but if it pours down, who knows about your investment?

    I only wish they had built tracks like this by the seaside, so one could have a break there before or after Racing.

  • Comment number 33.

    9. At 07:56 10th Jul 2011, GrandFalconRailroad wrote:
    What do you get for your £300 - if it's ev ery day that the F1 itself is there then that's not too bad - still expensive I know but not too bad given how much a music festival costs.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    But a music festival lasts for 5 days and you get to see a lot of acts that you'd usually be paying £20-£40 for individually, so you easily make your money back, plus you get the atmosphere.

  • Comment number 34.

    @21

    Silverstone is not a nightmare to get into at all - if you go by park and ride it's a piece of cake. Tons of buses leaving regularly that have priority acccess so they avoid the worst of the car traffic jams. Leaving after the race is just as easy. For a major event with around 120,000 spectators it's incredibly good and well planned. Contrast with wembley stadium when after a major game you have to wait about 60 minutes (at least) herded like sheep in a mass of humanity before you reach the tube station. I've been to silverstone twice in the last 4 years for the grand prix and was really surprised at the hassle free entrance and exit. People should stop peddling the 'nightmare' myth of getting in and out of the track. Of course though, if you are driving in your own car all the way and don't do the park and ride option then it probably is a nightmare. But then more fool you for doing that!

  • Comment number 35.

    I last went to Silverstone to watch a Grand Prix back in 1983. I was looking forward to see just how much spectator facilities had improved since then, when I went to yesterday's event. What did I find?
    A walk through a muddy, puddle filled lorry park (from the car park) - uneven, gravel/grit/mud/grass walk-ways - more Grandstands (yes, so they can charge more to get wet sitting down!) - fewer grass banks with a decent view of the circuit - where I stood at Becketts there was no speaker so we heard no commentary - a TV screen so far away it was the size of a postage stamp - just 2 ... yes 2! cash points on the entire circuit! - loos looking like the same porta-cabins available in 1983.
    Otherwise ok!

    I think the the powers that be at Silverstone never visit certain parts of the circuit to see what the conditions are like. Hospitality suites and Paddock passes are great for those fortunate enough to be able to afford it. As for the rest - let them sit on a rough, stoney/muddy bank and suffer. If I went to the theatre and spent £100 on a ticket I would expect (and get) something special.

    My daughter remarked that it looked like a scene out of Glastonbury - and she wasn't making a compliment. £28m on a new pit complex - that's fine. £12m on spectator facilities? Who are they trying to kid. I always thought Bernie was being harsh about Silverstone - now I tend to agree with him. The true fans are being hard done by, still. Nothing has changed in 28 years. I am a genuine F1 fan, I have been since 1973, but I will think hard before I consider returning to the British Grand Prix.

    Oh well ...

  • Comment number 36.

    I was there recently for the F1 GT. The facilities for the racers, media and the well heeled at the Silverstone Wing are second to none but the facilities for the ‘ordinary public’, although getting better, are still very poor. I was at Luffield for part of the day and didn’t see any ‘steep grassed bank’ just the old terrace peering through a safety fence. I think there’s an enormous amount of work to do but as long as the development does not stop with the Silverstone Wing, I think Silverstone deserves a lot of credit.

  • Comment number 37.

    I think the new building looks great, although I do agree the pit garages not being visible from the grandstands seems a bit of a schoolboy error...
    I'm fortunate enough to not have to pay to go to Silverstone events as I go as a guest of a BRDC member when I want to, but I wouldn't pay £300 to see any sporting event, I can afford to but would not choose to do so....and before anyone jumps on the 'not a real fan' bandwagon, I've stood in the mud/rain/snow at races/rallies since the late 70's and loved every minute of it, but today I prefer to watch my Motorsport a different way...
    I guess value for money is down to the individual, for some people the GP is 3 days they look forward to from the day after the current one, and £300 is money well spent....that would have been me a few years back.

  • Comment number 38.

    Lets just get some perspective here.... Slverstone has to charge the amount they do as it costs many millions to run the event. As to the thoughts of over paid sports people... we are not talking about football here... this is life risking stuff every lap! Great to see that the UK is being well presented by an organisation that has to pay it's own way and not a tax loss for a Russion Billionaire. Motor racing has to pay it's way

  • Comment number 39.

    @ #7 fatfox:

    One the Formula 1 drivers potentially put their lives at risk every single race. Thanks to technological improvements, people are no longer losing lives but we still see many have season and often career shortening injuries.

    Also compared to football, Formula 1 needs to cover the cost of technology, and the income from each race has to be distributed amongst the teams, the GP organisers and the Formula 1 commercial rights holders, unlike football when the gate receipts are pretty much taken by one party.

    As for the ownership of your football club - what?

  • Comment number 40.

    @1878onwards

    If we're talking about 'gods' of motorsport then rally drivers win, no contest.

  • Comment number 41.


    Sarah.....I told you above McLaren are not doing justice to their drivers. Well, well, Silverstone has hust finished, and spot on at the pit the McLaren engineers have left out a wheel nut on Jenson's car, resulting in him not finishing the race. The drivers were doing ok, and were destined to finish in the top five when this self-inflicted disaster struck, bleeding marvellous, innit ?? Lewis though to his credit took fourth place.

  • Comment number 42.

    My first visit to Silverstone was way back in 1992 when I was just 5 years old, and still hold a vague memory of it, the speed the noise and the atmosphere. My first race was in 1994 and went every year almost until 2008. For the previous two years I decided to go to Goodwood which is quite honestly astonishing compared to the Grand Prix weekend, there is so much to see and do, you can meet the drivers, see the cars up close its truly immense. Silverstone by contrast when I turned up this year is quite honestly not worth it I am sad to say. Bernie, the teams and the FIA need to sort out the event to the standard it used to be at, where are the team stands? Where are pitlane walkabout passes? Yes the organisation of the event is better but once you get in there is nothing to do! I think it will be Goodwood for me next year

  • Comment number 43.

    @27, I appreciate the sense in getting more peasants throught the doors but the old place can't cope with the volume of people now!
    @36, I believe you meant the FIA GT1. Or a proper event as I like to call it. Not the pretentious nonense that is unaccessable F1.

    I've been over Silverstone (pronounced Silverstun) this weekend and discovered the amount of toilet blocks to have been greatly reduced. Since when do blokes queue for a wee?! Answer - since this year...

    I also sat at Abbey opposite the top teams at the end of the pitlane and saw precisely nothing. 27m well spent!

    And my final whinge is directed at the teams who chose to sit in their garages on Friday FP2 whilst us paying punters got drenched out on the old airfield. Er, isn't F1 supposed to be entertaining? Someone forgot to tell the F1 bores. Mclaren were the worse offenders despite having hero-worshipped British drivers by doing hardly any running. No wonder they were so rubbish today, wheel nut anyone?

  • Comment number 44.

    No 10. I'm afraid you are way off the mark re: Singapore being more expensive than Silverstone. This season we will watch our third singapore GP from one of the major stands (Marine Bay) as a family of four. Total cost for all four of us for 3 days (nights) F1 entertainment including concerts etc is less than $920 Singapore dollars. That's less that 160 quid each!

  • Comment number 45.

    I went to Silverstone for the first time on Saturday. Although I enjoyed the day, I wouldn't go again. Why? It just wasn't as thrilling as I'd hoped, and that wasn't the fault of the weather.

    First, compare the experience to the Goodwood Festival. There you get loads of things to see on and off the track, you can get close to the cars and the drivers, you can get loads of photos, you can wander around and not miss anything, and it doesn't cost much.

    Now, Silverstone. Tickets a gift, so no complaint there. We arrive good and early, no queueing, and headed for the terrace at Luffield. Pretty good view, close to the action and above the fence, but have to stay in one place to keep our good view. There's a loo and a tea stall nearby, but the action is deathly dull so - off in search of a better spot. After nearly 2 hours walking, having spotted a few overpriced memorabilia stands and an air guitar contest on a giant stage, end up on a nice grassy bank opposite the pit entrance. 10 minute queue for the loo, more of the same memorabilia and a reasonably priced cuppa and burger. A good place to watch, as there's a good overtaking opportunity into the chicane before Club, but the bank is gently sloped so to photograph over the security fence you have to get too far from the track. Track commentary is apalling - the nadir being the commentator unable to see the aerobatic display and bemoaning the fact the whole time - a foreseeable problem with the pits facing out of the corner of the site? and the nearest big screen faces the wrong way - there for the corporate hospitality tents but too far away to be seen by them.

    Went home and watched quali again on the TV - much more interesting.

    It is great to have been there and heard the noise, seen the awesome speed, gained a new interest in GP2 and GP3 (but not awful buzzing Porsches). I'll remember it all as I sit and watch the thrilling BBC show with a toilet instantly available.

    So - More toilets, put on more of a show off the track, sort the track commentary (how about the 5 Live crew?), put the top teams back at the start of the pit lane, and it's job done.

  • Comment number 46.

    This is the first time for me in Silverstone and the race was fabulous although Lewis managed a fourth place with a disaster for JB in the pit lane.
    But still had to say that I was disappointed with some basic stuff which you would expect to be there in a big event like the Grand Prix.
    - There was very less travel directions around the track and we could literally find people queuing to the field marshals and security to check directions for their Grand Stands.
    - Very few toilet facilities.
    - I was seated in the newly created farm curve stand and the audibility of the commentary was pathetic as sound equipments were relatively in small numbers to the capacity of the stand.
    - Yes, there were screens setup around the track but the screens were not clear enough to see neither the positions nor the lap numbers and fortunately I was using a binocular and I could share these details with the people around me.
    I felt the above mentioned as basic stuff but still there are many things which can be improved in and around the facility.



  • Comment number 47.

    Agree with shiva. Signs to park and ride were poor and ended up going to the wrong one.
    Signage once on site was poor. Map provided only showed circuit and stands and not any of the stuff surrounding the track so it was hard to know where you were.
    Toilet queues were ridiculous so went in bushes (don't tell anyone!)
    Screens too far away and commentary inaudible or non-existent. I suspect these are to get you to buy the headsets or mini-tv. No 3G coverage so couldn't use the app for my phone to see timings etc.
    race was quite exciting but hard to know what was happening.
    Signage for exits were non-existent.
    Queues for buses back totally disorganised. Surprised there wasn't a fight with rival queues for same bus.
    So won't be going back. I'll stick to my comfy armchair and the beeb.

  • Comment number 48.

    Went for the whole weekend. Had a fantastic time all weekend. Got there early to avoid the queues, which worked out great. The track looks fantastic compared to when I last went 5 years ago.

    The food is expensive (par for the course) but I though it was of good quality.

    Some people have moaned that they couldn't see a screen - when I sat at Maggots on Saturday (a fantastice view), I could see 6 at different parts of the cicuit. Through the weekend I sat at several different corners and there were none which didn't have a big screen.

    The race commentary was also broadcast on FM radio so hearing it was no problem as I listened to it using my phone.

    I sat at Stowe for race day - Button's pass round the outside of Massa will stay with me for a long time.

    At £199 for 3 days it is expensive and I struggled to afford it, but it was worth every penny.

    Couldn't believe the number of people that didn't watch the support races, which are also top class action. The last time I was at the GP Hamilton raced in GP2 and pulled off some amazing moves.

    Parking was well organised - easy to find the circuit and to get to the car park. Queued for about 30 mins to get out on Sunday, but given that there were 120,000 there I think this is fair enough.

    All in all I had a fantastic time, and wouldn't hesitate to go again next year.

  • Comment number 49.

    Also @43 it is a sport, not an entertainment show. They didn't run at the beginning of FP2 because it was totally worthless for them. They would have learnt nothing about the circuit or set up, and would have risked a big off for no reason. The teams are primarily racing to win, not to entertain you

  • Comment number 50.

    I have been to Silverstone several times over the last 15 years and although it has improved, the facilities for fans are still massively lacking and don't begin to compare to those at many other circuits on the calendar. Great Britain needs to think big to remain a respected part of world motorsport, hopefully this is starting to happen with the new pit lane and paddock facilities. But they need to do something for the FANS!

  • Comment number 51.

    Haven't visited since 2003 but took our 11 year old yesterday; a birthday gift for both of us. Agree with #46 and #47 above re the signage within the circuit. I saw one sign at Gate 1 saying where Stowe was and that was it. Seeing as Stowe is a fair hike and we were dropped off by the Park & Ride at Gate 1, we needed more signs. Also, how about a small motor show as per Goodwood so there's more to do in the morning ?
    Agree also about the Park & Ride queuing. The queue was long (waited about an hour) but it kept moving and the folks in our queue at least were good-natured and laid back about it. However, having small queues form at the front of ours which meant some people only queued for 5 mins didn't go down well. The stewards need to be marshalling the queues, not just the buses. Still a vast improvement on previous years though.
    Overall though, it was a great day - fantastic noise, great atmosphere and you forgive the failings because, to be honest, you knew there'd be some. It didn't detract from the day at all. Would I go back ? Absolutely. Just need to save up....

  • Comment number 52.

    I was at Silverstone yesterday (Sunday) and it was a success. I can't understand why so many people are moaning about the price of the tickets. Yes they are not cheap but if people plan months in advance and spread the cost then its not that bad.

    My tickets were bought way back in February which gave us 5 complete months to make sure we paid the amount back. For those complaining I strongly recommend booking your tickets now as you'll have a full year to pay off the amount.

    It'll be interesting to see where Silverstone goes from here as there a lot of talk about a hotel being built on the track which sounds fantastic.

  • Comment number 53.

    My first Grand Prix was in 1967, then in the 70s and 80s I went to them all, I must say Silverstone always was a boring circuit, and really still is.

    Give me Brands Hatch anyday as a spectator, the thing is since Silverstone got the Grand Prix exclusively, year on year the prices nearly doubled, the last Grand Prix at Brands was £15, Silverstone charged the same.

    It all got stupid the minute Silverstone had the rights of the Grand Prix to themselves, from 15 to £25 overnight, Greed is not the word.

    £300 for a Grand Prix weekend is an utter joke, and I bet the toilets are still a joke to, well should I say the lack of them, nothings changed apart from the price.

    A bad Circuit from a spectator point of view, and now you cant see the pits or the pitstops, well done Silverstone.

  • Comment number 54.

    We paid £300 each for Grandstand tickets at Abbey, where small screens were too far away and were unreadable, pits that were designed only to be seen by the mechanics, PA systems not working, and toilets with Disney queues. Worst of all, we were unable to get into our stand on Saturday morning due to all the extra upgrade roving tickets that had been sold. After experiencing the wonderful seating and facilities and viewing at F1 Albert Park in Melbourne in March, and many other Grand Prix over the years, Silverstone falls far short in its treatment of the paying public, and we will not be returning.

  • Comment number 55.

    So, Silverstone is the best F1 circuit in the World! says a famous F1 commentator during Friday's Silverstone TV interview. What a joke. Maybe as far as the edge of the tarmac goes and possibly for the prawn sandwiches but not from the other side of the tracks. The Pits is a more accurate description as spectators continue to be treated with contempt.
    Ask someone who queued to get in, stood outside in the rain, walked through the mud, queued for the toilets, queued for hot drinks, was herded through 2' wide gates to get out, walked along the road as there were no paths, queued to get out of the Car Park, queued along the A43 to get home. They shouldn't be hard to find as there were thousands like me who felt that only the determination of the racing fans made it worthwhile. No thanks to the organisers.

    Don't ask someone who came by helicopter, was ferried to the hospitality suite, watched the race indoors on screen, peeped over the wall at the Red Bull / McLaren / Ferrari pit crew, wondered who the crackpots were in the rain beyond the tarmac, was led by tour-guides to the garages and marvelled at the media circus following Eddie Jordan et al down the pit lane.

    Who do you suppose has most sway? 300k fans or the corporate sponsors?

    Better still famous racing commentator, cross the track and spend race day with the fans - then give a more rounded opinion on the state of this facility.

  • Comment number 56.

    Fantastic racing, however having spent 3 days at Silverstone I cannot see where 12 quid never mind 12M has been spent on facilities for the paying public.

    I have been going to the GP since the mid 80s, and nothing ever changes, except the ticket price. Same traffic chaos, same mud bath, same tatty old 'temporary' grandstands, moving them about a bit shouldn't fool anyone. In fact the only significant change I could see was a marked reduction in the number of toilets. When Bernie told the BRDC to stop taking the p*** this isn't what he meant.

    Come on Damon, the peasants collectively stumped up about 30M quid to get in this year, surely a small fraction of that could have been spent on renting a few toilets.

  • Comment number 57.

    Not the best way to spend 40 mill. After all this airfield will always be the "third" choice solution after Brands and Donington. Maybe it would have been better to use the 40 mill to indiscriminately attack yet another country and start a fourth war to distract attention from the appalling conditions the home country suffers.

  • Comment number 58.

    it does look pretty good..even the McLaren drivers liked it..haha http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Q_8N_L1mmI

  • Comment number 59.

    this being my 20th year at the Grand Prix, I decided for the first time to buy a grandstand ticket. After the weekend I sent the following to Silverstone

    Great 2011 Grand Prix... however I have a few criticisms...



    1st -the lack of toilets. Having moved the majority of the spectators from the old pit straight up to the New pit area, there were no new toilets.. where were 50,000 extra people expected to go? (also noticed that in Village / Arena area)

    2nd - while we had grandstand tickets, we were regularly not allowed into the grandstands (Friday & Saturday)... The Security staff were saying they was full, however when i challenged them by saying i could see empty spaces... and proved it... (there were 31 free that i counted in 1 section that I was told was full) - you need to employ better trained staff

    3rd - Entry - similar to the toilet issue... you have moved the majority of people up to the new pits, however there are now not enough entry gates.. thus queues build up quickly and block the perimeter road.

    4th - Podium - while new Wing building looks great.. .. i think you missed a trick with the podium.. people who paid a lot of money to buy grandstand seats on the pit straight, couldn't see the podium. it should be in the middle.

    5th - light gantry - blocked the view to one of the big screens..

    6th - lack of the big displays (with cars etc) in the main fanzone / merchandise area compared to previous years

    7th - reduction in the number of races (now a regular occurrence) - thus reducing the value for money as perceived by the fans.

    And while these all did have an impact on my enjoyment of the event, i think there are a few other things i noticed that clearly show that there wasn't the thought put into the new building.

    The pit lane was too narrow.. look at the number incidents that occurred in all formulae – you have the space... you need to improve it

    Also the view into the top teams garages was blocked by the pit wall being higher than the garages. (if i were Santander or Vodafone I would have complained)

    Also getting stricken cars off the grid and into the pitlane (up hill !!!) – being an ex- marshal, i can only shake my head in disbelief

    the continuous movement of support formulae equipment from the old pits / paddock areas to the new pit lane

    And from our view in the grandstand.. you could see the continuous stream of smokers from the wing building having to go out of the paddock club area to smoke - which did make us laugh.

    I think what i am saying is.. while its great having new facilities... it’s obvious that it is not well designed, and definately not for the fans.

 

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