British GP Preview extra: Where to watch

Silverstone F1 Grand Prix circuit, 2004So you’re off to Silverstone for the race. But where on the 5.1km track will you find the best view?

I’ve watched four Grands Prix and loads of other races at Silverstone from every conceivable part of the circuit. So here’s my thoughts on where to watch the race from.

Picking a spot to watch a race from is not an easy task. It’s not just a case of finding somewhere comfortable for two hours – you might have to bag the spot in the small hours of Sunday morning, unless you’re shelling out for a grandstand seat.

Obvious a decent view of at least part of the track is essential. If you can see one of the giant TV screens it will make following the race a lot easier.

Happily Silverstone is not short of great vantage points: Copse and Becketts are among the best corners on any racing track and there are far more quick bends than your average Tilke-drome.

Woodcote / Start and finish straight

British Grand Prix, Silverstone, Start, 1989

The advantage of watching from the main straight is that you can see this pits and therefore will know who’s pitted and who hasn’t – vital for understanding the race. Being able to see the podium is another bonus.

The disadvantage is that, aside from the start and finish of the race, it’s short on spectacle. It’s a good place to watch the race from, but find somewhere else for practice and qualifying.

Copse

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota, Silverstone, 2006

Copse is one of the best bends in F1 – never mind just Silverstone. F1 drivers approach it flat out at nearly 300 kph, and with a deft flick of the steering wheel and perhaps just the slightest of lifts, hurl the car into the near-blind turn pulling well over 3g.

It’s a great place to judge the difference in quality of the cars – and the bravery of the pilots.

Maggots / Becketts / Chapel Complex

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2005

This five part sequence is unlike anything else on the F1 calendar this year, with the loss of Suzuka’s S-curves. The first left-right was the scene of Lewis Hamilton’s outrageous three-abreast pass in GP2 last year. F1 cars are unlikely to demonstrate that kind of action, but watching them round the first two bends flat out is incredible.

The high-speed direction changes often provoke errors from over-driving rookies in qualifying.

Hangar straight / Stowe

Jarno Trulli, Renault, Silverstone, 2003

Stowe has seen some drama through the decades. Here Michael Schumacher broke his leg in 1999 – and made Fernando Alonso his sworn enemy in 2003. In 1987, Nigel Mansell vanquished team mate Nelson Piquet with an overtaking move of pure theatre.

Today the highly critical aerodynamics of modern F1 cars make overtaking at Stowe very difficult. But the Hangar straight is where the cars reach their highest speeds at Silverstone – around 305kph.

Vale / Club

Juan Pablo Montoya, Michael Schumacher, Silverstone, 2002

There is no grandstand at the outside of Club – it’s standing room only and on race day expect thousands of Union Jack-waving fans cheering on the four British drivers.

It’s not the most spectacular corner on the track – but you get a wide view of the bottom section of track for your money.

Abbey Chicane

Fernando Alonso, Renault, Silverstone, 2005

Abbey is the most likely venue for overtaking at Silverstone – a tight chicane preceded by a reasonably slow corner. Its tricky kerbs can also tease mistakes out of the drivers.

In a 60 lap race there’s bound to be at least one ill-judged lunge for position here – put your money on Takuma Sato.

Bridge / Priory / Brooklands / Luffield complex

Jacques Villeneuve, BMW, Silverstone, 2006

The final complex offers you the best chance of seeing the cars for the most time. It’s well-served by TV screens and the thrilling Bridge bend is always spectacular.

But its tightly, fiddly nature makes it a highly unlikely venue for overtaking.

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6 comments on British GP Preview extra: Where to watch

  1. I always used to watch from inside Copse – it was amazing! You really get a feel for the modern F1 car there, plus you’ve got the pitlane exit so you can see the drivers practicing their starts literally metres in front of you!

    Lately I’ve really enjoyed watching from the Abbey chicance (you can sit in the enclosure on Friday and Saturday with general admission tickets), stood along the straight between Club and Abbey (an absolutely incredible atmosphere on race day) and also on the outside of Luffield (again, you can sit in the enclousre there on Friday and Saturday).

    To anyone who’s going, enjoy it! I’m not even a bit jealous. Well, maybe …

    Martin

  2. jon m said on 4th July 2007, 16:08

    good guide but i dont understand this : ‘the loss of Sepang’s S-curves?’

    has sepang been changed then?

  3. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th July 2007, 17:04

    Typo! That was supposed to be Suzuka. Fixed.

  4. I have watched qualifying from Club before, which is a good place for the view and seeing driver’s lines – though the GP2 race will probably provide more raw action in that area.

  5. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 10th July 2008, 10:17

    Comment from Tam moved here: Silverstone, Great Britain

  6. Jack Clayton said on 2nd April 2012, 15:59

    I haven’t been in years and now going to go with Gen admission (Had to re-mortgage the house), can you still go to the inside of the track and sit at the exit of Copse? There was a grassy hill there, I want to bring fold away chairs. What about outside the track betweek Copse and Backetts, can you set chairs up there and see well? Anybody know what time the gates open on Sunday?

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