Silverstone F1 crowd exceeds 310,000

Before this year’s British Grand Prix I pointed out that it would be madness for F1 to leave behind a circuit that regularly gets huge crowds.

And so it proved as Silverstone packed in a capacity audience of 120,000 on Sunday. Buoyed by the success of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button its three-day total attendance of 310,000 was the highest in 15 years:

Silverstone race crowds, 2007-2009 (click to enlarge)

Silverstone race crowds, 2007-2009 (click to enlarge)

Formula 1 has seen some pitifully low attendance figures this year as the credit crunch bites, with 30,000 believed to have attended the Sunday of the Chinese Grand Prix and 32,000 the same day of the Turkish round.

Press release:

Legends of British motor sport salute record Silverstone crowds
– record breaking 310,000-strong crowd enjoys ??phenomenal?? British Grand Prix
– 20,000 fans stay behind to see British legends at Grand Prix Party

British drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton joined a host of British motor sport legends and current F1 drivers on Sunday evening at Silverstone?s post-race Grand Prix Party, the circuit?s traditional finale to the FORMULA 1 SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX.

The Party, free to all ticket holders, took place after the last race of the day on a purpose built giant stage in the centre of the circuit. A record-equalling 20,000 fans stayed behind at Silverstone to continue the post-race celebrations.

TV broadcaster Tony Jardine hosted the evening?s entertainment and was joined on stage by a number of current F1 drivers and legends of British motor sport. All of the drivers received a heroes welcome, but the biggest cheer of the day was saved for Jenson Button, who leads the World Championship after finishing sixth in this year?s FORMULA 1 SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX.

Speaking after the race about Silverstone and the future of the British Grand Prix, Button commented, ??We?ve all spoken without saying a word. The last couple of races have not had many people, so to come here and see all these spectators??we don?t need to say anything. This Grand Prix is the most spectacular in F1. Monaco is special, but it is nothing like this. There has to be a GP here next year.??

In addition to the British drivers, Jardine was joined on stage by British Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel and fellow F1 drivers Mark Webber, Rubens Barichello, Nico Rosberg, Kazuki Nakajima and Nelson Piquet. British team bosses Ross Brawn and Christian Horner also joined their drivers on stage.

Showing their support for Silverstone, at the Northamptonshire circuit?s final Grand Prix under the existing contract with Formula One Management, there were also appearances from a host of British motor sport legends, including former World Champions Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Jackie Stewart and Damon Hill OBE, as well as former British Grand Prix winners Johnny Herbert and David Coulthard. British drivers Martin Brundle and Derek Warwick also joined the celebrations, along with Coulthard and Brundle?s fellow BBC commentators Eddie Jordan and Jake Humphrey.

Silverstone attracted record crowds over the three days, including 85,000 on Friday, 105,000 on Saturday and a capacity crowd of 120,000 on the Sunday. The three day cumulative crowd of 310,000 was the highest at Silverstone in 15 years.

Speaking after the event Richard Phillips, Managing Director of Silverstone Circuits Limited, said, ??The support for Silverstone and the British Grand Prix over the past three days – from fans, drivers and teams – has been overwhelming. The fans have a real affinity with Silverstone and the drivers love coming here. It?s a fantastic circuit. You just have to look at the attendance figures over the past three days, and Sebastian Vettel?s reaction to winning here, to see that Silverstone is a very special place.??

Commenting on the fans? reaction after his first British Grand Prix win, the Red Bull Racing driver had said, ??I regret a little bit that I am not an Englishman. I saw the crowd cheering at the end and I wanted to wave at them.??

Phillips added, ??We have the best fans in the world and I sincerely hope to see them back at Silverstone next year. There have been growing concerns over Donington Park?s ability to host the British Grand Prix, in 2010 and beyond, but comments over the weekend from Mr Ecclestone and the FIA have been reassuring. The support from fans over this weekend has undoubtedly had an impact on the way they are viewing the future of the British Grand Prix and Silverstone. We?ve said all along that Silverstone is ready to step in if Donington?s plans fall over, and that remains the case. Silverstone has never looked so good. This year?s British Grand Prix was phenomenal, one of the best run and well supported events I have ever worked on, and we?re hopeful that we?ll see everyone back here next year.??

A number of high profile guests and VIPs were making the most of the glamorous occasion, including footballers Eric Cantona, Michael Ballack and Michael Carrick, England Manager Fabio Capello, Olympic cyclists Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton, The Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson, cricketer Kevin Pietersen, Jade Jagger, DJ Chris Moyles, rock band Kasabian, socialite Tamara Beckwith and TV presenter Vernon Kay.

Read more: F1 leaving Britain would be madness

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15 comments on Silverstone F1 crowd exceeds 310,000

  1. Neil said on 22nd June 2009, 21:07

    Donington won the contract, why can’t people just accept this?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 22nd June 2009, 21:46

      I think you’re jumping to a conclusion there, but to be clear, my concern is not that Silverstone won’t have a Grand Prix next year, but that Britain won’t have one. Donington has a lot of money to raise and a lot of work to do to put an F1 race on in 12 months’ time.

      Concerns that it might not be able to deliver on that are not unreasonable, and Ecclestone has given mixed messages about whether he’d allow the race to be held at Silverstone 2010.

      • Mussolini's pet cat said on 22nd June 2009, 21:54

        Keith, the money that has to be raised for Donnington’s completion could be in serious question too if the current FIA/FOTA feud isn’t sorted quickly or indeed sorted at all. With the financial climate the way it is and the chance of no F1, who is going to want to invest in a new track & facilities at Donnington?

      • Bigbadderboom said on 23rd June 2009, 8:17

        Over the weekend Keith, Bernie was Interviewed by Jake Humphrey and he said in no uncertain terms that if Donnington dropped the ball then F1 would be back at Silverstone, this he announced after being in conference with Max for a while. I think it will be Silverstone next year, Donnington are going to struggle to be ready.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 23rd June 2009, 9:13

          Indeed – but it wouldn’t be the first time he’s suggested F1 could return to Silverstone in 2010 and then back-tracked on that position and insisted it was Donington or bust. He’s already done it once this year already.

          • John H said on 23rd June 2009, 13:33

            As Damon mentioned recently, The FIA & FOM have burnt their bridges with Silverstone. It probably won’t be F1 returning in 2010 but FOTA GP (or whatever its called).

            I’m hoping that will happen because Bernie has non-stop critised everything about the BRDC and Silverstone, and it would be great to see Damon telling him and Max to eff off now that they come grovelling back with tails between legs.

          • MattB said on 23rd June 2009, 18:49

            I’ve been having a look at quite a few Bernie quotes recently. He has catagorically denied that the British Grand Prix will not be at Silverstone. He also has hinted that there may be a GP at Silverstone. This is NOT (in my opinion) a contradiction… surely that Silverstone will be hosting the European GP in the coming years? That would be awesome…

            That aside, bring on a FOTA championship as well, broadcast on terrestrial and put them head to head. See who wins!

  2. Mussolini's pet cat said on 22nd June 2009, 21:48

    No wonder Ecclestone was back pedalling like crazy yesterday. Prehaps the penny has finaly dropped that F1 couldnt afford (and i dont necessarily mean financially) to lose the British GP.

  3. Scott Joslin said on 22nd June 2009, 22:00

    As mentioned in the press release, I went to the Grand Prix Party for the first time this year, and it was great fun. I would say that it is a must for any future British Grand Prix whether it is at Silverstone or Donington.

    I just cannot see Donington matching Silverstone for circuit or facilities.

    The Atmosphere was great this weekend and with the drivers heaping praise on the circuit and the fans, I would be gravely disappointed to leave Silverstone.

    I just hope the words from drivers, team managers and Max and Bernie wasn’t just playing to the crowd to win support for their own causes and that they actually try and influence the reversal of the donington contract and get it back to silverstone.

  4. Bartholomew said on 23rd June 2009, 0:34

    Thats 300,000 more than in the GP of China. The spectators there were party officials bused to the site under threat of working in the salt mines.
    These figures show you what can be done if races are held in popular historic tracks !!!
    This is a good future shaping ahead for FOTA.
    CVC will have to invest in General Motors if they want to remain in the car business.

    • pSynrg said on 24th June 2009, 20:04

      Nice balanced view of China there. Good to see the international spirit alive and well for one of the worlds truly international sporting activities.

  5. CoolGav said on 23rd June 2009, 12:23

    “including former World Champions Sir Stirling Moss”

    Have I missed a retrospective chapionship being awarded?

    Over the years Bernie has been nasty to BRDC regarding Silverstone, so would expect to see them siding with FOTA rather than FIA/FOM for a race next year. With a crowd this size, surely there’s more justification for giving the fans what they want.

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