Ten F1 fans’ stories from Silverstone

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

British Grand Prix start

Silverstone was packed with fans – and dozens of F1 Fanatic readers – last weekend.

Some were sat at Beckets enjoying the view of the new and old parts of the track, others witnessed that controversial moment between Alonso and Kubica unfold at Club, and more watched events unfold before and after the race in front.

Here are their memories from an exciting British Grand Prix weekend.

Andrew Hyatt

Andrew gets full marks for dedication – he was at the track at quarter to four on Sunday morning to get a good view:


My mission on this extremely hot and sunny day was to watch as much action from different parts of the track as possible, I started off at Stowe as we were staying in the Woodland camp site behind Club corner.

Watching the cars hurtle down Hanger Straight, then flow through Stowe at ridiculous speeds was a sight for sore (and slightly hung-over) eyes. However after about 30mins of first practice we moved to what turned out to be my favourite spot for the whole weekend – Becketts.

We managed to get a seat high in the grandstand so the view as the cars weaved their way through Maggots and Becketts and putting the power down as they exited Chapel was truly immense. Being high in the grandstand also gave you a great view of the new Arena section and the Wellington Straight. It was non stop action from this location and my choice for next years Grand Prix.

We remained in Becketts for the rest of first practice. For second practice we took the long walk round to Abbey. I was looking forward to seeing how the cars would handle the new Abbey corner and Farm curve and it didn’t disappoint. This will be a fantastic location for next year with the new pit straight.

There were very good spins here in the other classes but the F1 cars nailed it every time, the view of them disappearing around Farm curve was fantastic. Halfway through the session we moved to Club corner, again the new track layout has worked well here with the double apex on Club corner, however I would like to see less of a run off area to really test the drivers and punish those drivers that wonder too far left.

From here we also had a great view of Vale and the chicane, the speed of these cars is mind blowing but what amazes me just as much, and what other seems to ignore is how quickly they slow down, seeing them shoot down from Stow, through Vale and hard on the breaks to enter the chicane is fantastic.


With a slightly sore head (again!) we made our way to Copse to watch third practice. Here the view of the Red Bulls navigating the corner like they were on rails was a real eye opener, full throttle, flick of the wheel, Copse – DONE and showed how far ahead of everyone they really are.

We stayed here and watched some of the Porsche racing, however when one of the cars decided he didn’t want to turn right at Copse and instead decided to head straight towards us and crash into the barriers about front meters in front of us we decided to move.

We then went to Becketts for qualifying, we sat on the bank at the apex of Chapel and again the view was fantastic as the cars came into sight at Maggots and zigzagged towards us. My only complaint here was the view of the video screen for General Admission ticket-holders was poor – great view from the stand but for e lowly GA crowd is was very hard to make out who was where in the timings.

After qualifying we left for camp site and was amazed to see people already queuing at the gate for Sunday – I’m still not sure if that’s total dedication to the sport or utter madness.


We arrived at the gate at 3:45am and was not surprised to see a whole host of people in front of us, some still tucked up on their air-bed! As the gates opened we made our dash to club corner, we spent hours the night before debating on were to sit and it came down to a single thing: location.

1. Not too far from the camp site
2. Not too far to run from the gate
3. Toilets located right behind the seating area
4. Good selection of food and drinks van (although the food we purchased turned out to be inedible)

Our final sprint was very impressive and we secured our spot on the front row. We settled down for the long, sunny but exciting day ahead.

Then it stated to rain! From here was had great view of some fantastic racing – not just the F1 race but all the other series played their part in what was a fantastic day.

The atmosphere here was the best of the weekend, however I did think that the atmosphere in Luffield last year was better. Watching Fernando Alonso taking his short cut past Kubica was entertaining, and Mark Webber stopping right in front of the stand on his parade/in lap was brilliant and really got the crowd going.

The support as expected for the McLaren team was unbelievable, the usual rocket red and silver everywhere you looked, a lot more than last year, obviously helped by Button moving to McLaren.

The safety car definitely helped spice the race up a bit but overall I thought it was a great race, a lot better than last years procession.

Overall Silverstone have done a fantastic job in such a short period of time. The track looked good, next year it will look fantastic once all the building work has been complete.

Off the track they also seem to be sorting things out, the toilets were a lot better, cleaner and not so many queues. The food in the track is still woeful and extortionate – they need to do something about this.

I was amazed by the number of empty seats in the grandstands, Club grandstand was less then half full. You could buy upgrades on both the Saturday and Sunday, but these prices were also ridiculous – ??40 for Saturday and ??80 for Sunday, and you could only buy them on the day.

We did go to the ticket office on Saturday to upgrade for the Sunday so we didn’t have to get up at stupid o’clock but we were told we couldn’t and that we should go as early as possible on the Sunday, in the end we didn’t see the point, if we had to get up early we would just get the best seat possible in General Admission and save the ??80 for next year.

I can’t wait for next year now.

Catherine Flick

Catherine’s from Australia so no prizes for guessing who she was rooting for on Sunday…

This was my first time at a Grand Prix, and it was great. Great atmosphere, great people around, and also a great race to top it all off. It was especially good for me since I’m an Aussie!

Where we were

Luffield Terrace Bronze tickets – we got there early and got some fantastic positions, but you don’t think you can really lose at Luffield. With its location and the way it’s set up it’s definitely the best Bronze ticket area and probably better than many Silver ones too.

Non-F1 highlights

The GP3 was a new event this year (apparently) and I really think it was just fantastic. The race on Saturday completely eclipsed the rather boring GP2 race before it, with lots of gutsy drives, drama and excitement on track.

Our spots meant that we got really great views of a lot of overtaking, especially for the smaller cars. Sunday’s GP3 race was just as exciting, though the GP2 race was a bit more exciting than the previous day’s race. Some thoroughly well deserved wins and some great driving in both series.

Porsche Supercup was lots of fun, but I found the BMW race was not as interesting as the GP3 despite the similarities to the style. Not really sure why it wasn’t so great though, but I think part of it was because most of the audience had left by that stage and so the atmosphere had died a bit. It’s a bit hard coming on the end of such a dramatic F1 race!

The Red Arrows were amazing. I’m not sure how to describe it, but my jaw was dropped the entire time and the whole crowd were involuntarily gasping at some of the formations and stunts.

Radio Silverstone – very well commentated and run. Really enjoyed the entertaining way they presented things, didn’t take things too seriously which was great. Particularly liked knowing what happened around our end of the track before the commentators could see a replay (e.g. Felipe Massa’s slide into the pit lane).

Weather – Fantastic. Couldn’t have asked for better. Saturday was quite hot but Sunday was just perfect.

F1 highlights

Being near the pit entrance. Especially for the Massa slide, but also being able to witness the pitting strategy first-hand.

Being at the end of the Wellington straight, we got to see a lot of overtaking just before the Luffield corner. Sutil’s battle to keep Vettel at bay was one of the finer parts of the race, as well as the dramatic overtaking of Schumacher.

Watching Vettel catch up to the HRT/Lotus/VR and then work his way further up the field was pretty impressive; same for Button’s move up from 14th to fourth, though that was less dramatic and more due to clever strategy.

The safety car lap ended right in front of us, so we got to see Webber make that dash for it that firmly fixed his position, which was great for me!

Alguesuari’s unfortunate exit was quite dramatic at the Luffield corner, but a bit unfortunate.

The heroic efforts of the marshal to pick up some debris on the track yielded a massive cheer and applause from the crowd around us, especially given the somewhat spread out formation on the track at the time. It was a very impressive run and one of the things you don’t see on TV!

Of course, the atmosphere was electric. Every time one of the British drivers came around the corner, the crowd went wild! I of course waved my little flag for Webber but despite our support differences everyone was very excited for me that he won.

Venue highlights

Food was good, used to the ubiquitous terribly overpriced pie’n’chips back in Australian sporting events the different ranges and general quality seemed a lot higher which was nice. I even got a good coffee!

The car park was almost like a car show day, which was great. I saw more Ferraris, Lotuses etc… parked precariously in the grassy fields on Sunday than I’ve seen the whole of my life. Also two Bugatti Veyrons on the M1 south heading toward Silverstone at stupid o’clock in the morning certainly took the edge off that 5am start!

After taking close to an hour to get out of the car park it was quite awesome to drive up an empty A43 on the wrong side of the road! Yeah, OK, maybe we were just happy to be out of the queue.

Overall it was a great experience, and I really would like to come back again next year. I’m fairly new to F1 in general (only been watching for three to four years) and I thought it would be boring in the “down time” between F1 stuff but in some ways the other races and things were almost as exciting as the F1 race itself!

See more of Catherine’s pictures from the race

Alex Odell (Ajokay)

Alex saw a lot of action – and a less-than-friendly welcome for the Ferrari drivers – from the start/finish straight.

Row S, Seat 23 of the ??Pits Straight? grandstand is where I watched the British Grand Prix from, directly opposite Lucas di Grassi’s 22nd position on the grid.

Thankfully, although they?ve moved the grandstand back this year, they compensated by covering the back half of it, which out row just fell under. No sunburn for us then!

After an hour spent in the queue through Silverstone village and in the car park, the entire time listening to the screech of GP2 cars in the distance, I got to my seat at about 11. It allowed a brilliant view from the exit of Luffield, through Woodcote, and right down to the apex of Copse, as well as the length of the pit lane. Although you see little – if any – overtaking here, you?re treated to the spectacle of the business of the grid which begins about an hour before the red lights go out, while everyone else has to sit watching an empty track until the parade lap.

It goes without saying that you also get to see these cars doing full whack at one of the fastest parts of the circuit, as well as all the post-race fun. Parc Ferme congregated at the beginning of the pit lane right in front of us, and the podium was in full view off to the left. A giant screen on top the race control building meant we could keep an eye on what was happening elsewhere.

The atmosphere was amazing. As the drivers were interviewed during the driver?s parade, Huge cheers and air horn blasts (no vuvuzelas, thankfully) erupted for Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.

There was fanatical screaming from several of the female members of the crowd usually saved for boy bands when Nico Rosberg appeared on screen. Rubens Barrichello was the recipient of a very polite round of applause.

The Red Bull drivers were well cheered; Mark more so than Seb… and poor Fernando Alonso’s interview was completely drowned out by booing far louder than any pantomime villain has ever received.

I?ve said before that I don?t think Formula would suffer too greatly if Ferrari weren?t a part of it. It certainly wouldn?t at Silverstone, at least. I think I counted two people wearing Ferrari T-shirts, and along with the jeering of Alonso, everyone cheered when Massa limped into the pit lane at the end of the first lap, and again on his excursion across the final corner towards the end of the race. The crowd was a sea of McLaren silver and Vodafone dayglo-orange in various proportions.

As for the racing action, sure, Woodcode is never going to see much overtaking, but we all got to see Lewis pushing Mark Webber hard, Jenson?s early and Vettel?s late charges through the field, Sutil take a bite out of de la Rosa?s rear wing, the safety car restart, Alguersuari?s car dangling from a tractor in the Luffield gravel trap in the distance, Massa almost T-boning the wall on the entry to the pit lane after losing it on the kerb, and lots and lots of squirming out of Luffield and very close slipstreaming through Woodcote.

Everything else could be seen on the big screen, so no action was missed. Of course there was then the joy of watching Webber take the chequered flag, and his curious leap as he climbed onto the top step of the podium.

The seats in that area are pricey, being the wrong side of ??200, but the experience you get as a motor sport fan is second to none. The most jaw-dropping moment for me was the race start.

As the red lights count up, the grandstand literally started to shake with the vibration, and as soon the lights go out… the immense sound of 24 V8 F1 engines pointing directly at your eardrums as they scream away towards Copse, in what seemed like a fraction of a second, is the most amazing sound I will ever hear.

Sadly nothing is ever perfect, and for all the money that is being spent on the circuit, they really could do with throwing a few million at some substantially improved roads. There is still only one proper way into and out of Silverstone, and that is the junction with the A43 and on race day, they don?t even use that! At 4:30pm, the entire contents of the north and east car parks were being rather clumsily funnelled into one single-track farm lane complete with several cattle grids. An hour and a half later we were finally spat out onto the A5. It?s a conundrum that even Carol Vorderman couldn?t solve. 50,000 into one simply doesn?t go.

Nick Ritter

Nick found an unusual solution to the problem of getting something good to eat:

I watched the race from Woodcote A, row B, seats 122 to 125 (having taken my two brothers and dad).

The seats were fantastic. We looked straight down the new Wellington straight where there was plenty of overtaking opportunities. In addition we saw the cars around the slower Luffield corner and then we got to see the acceleration of the cars towards us at Woodcote. The views extended around so that we got to see most of the pit straight as well up until the first corner. Finally the seats offered great views of the entrance to the pit lane as well as views straight up the pit lane as well .

In all we had amazing seats and were by far superior in my view to the other parts of the track where I have previously sat (Luffield A, Copse A, Stowe B and the pit straight).

If looking to be highly critical, I would have preferred a seat in Woodcote A just a few rows higher than B, 10 rows back would be ideal as it would afford you a better perspective of the cars coming down the Wellington straight and you would see right the way around the pit straight to the first corner – but otherwise my seats were amazing.

One downside from the weekend is just the poor quality of decent food – you only really have one option of deep fried and fatty food. That said, we were extremely lucky to find a BBQ shop that had really decent seating and private tables where you had your own BBQ and could cook your own food – the quality of which was fantastic to anything else in comparison that I came across all weekend. Just a shame there isn’t slightly more of this around the circuit.

The other negative for the weekend was on the Saturday when we went for qualifying. We had pre paid for a car parking space – entered the car park, waved the permit and asked where we should park. The guy said anywhere and we thought all was good. We returned later to find a parking ticket for not properly displaying our pre paid ticket which just really leaves a sour taste. Looking around the parking lot it seemed hundreds were in a similar position .

Otherwise a fantastic weekend.

James Newnham

James was another fan going to the Grand Prix for the first time:

This was a trip I had been planning well in advance and I was very excited come Thursday evening when I first arrived. I was camping at New Rookery Farm and was only a mile or so away for the track.

As I arrived on the Friday morning I walked into the large merchandising area behind the pit straight and did something that everybody else seemed to be doing and purchased one of the ubiquitous ‘Rocket Red’ McLaren hats.

After that rather expensive purchase I made my way to the nearest grandstand which happened to be Woodcote B, I stayed there throughout the Formula BMWs and F1 first practice. For me, (a Grand Prix virgin) the experience of hearing the sound of an F1 engine reverberating through the grandstands was one of the highlights of the weekend and got me off to a great start.

On the Sunday morning I got in as early as possible and sat at the General Admission Banking near Chapel corner. This allowed me to see the cars as they came out of copse and through Maggots and Becketts.

The best part of the weekend had to be the eruption of cheers around me as Vettel’s tyre punctured and he straight-lined Becketts. Being allowed into the paddock after the race was also a good experience and I got a chance to wander around the support paddock looking at the GP2 cars. I also had a chance to congratulate the deserved winner of the second FBMW race which was cool.

Damon Wassell

Damon was another first-timer

Me and my father had the three-day General Admission tickets, we sat at Copse corner just in front of the wheelchair area.

During practice and qualifying the Renaults and Michael Schumacher looked mighty through copse. Hamilton’s McLaren seemed very twitchy going through, especially on the exit.

The highlight had to be the start with Hamilton, although we thought Kubica had him on the inside at one point. It was my first Grand Prix and an excellent experience.

Mark Sallis

Mark recommends taking in as much of the track as you can

My girlfriend and I went to our second British Grand Prix in a row. This one was amazing.

On Friday went to Copse, Luffield and Village. One Saturday we were at the pit straight and Becketts and we watched the race at Stowe. The atmosphere was unbelievable.

I was impressed at how much you see of the track at the new section and Becketts. We nearly didn’t go this year but to see so many world champions and good drivers was a must.

It’s also worth mentioning the three-day tickets. You get to see so much more of the track, cars and drivers. Best weekend ever. Only would have been topped if we’d bumped into Keith…

Jacob Tyler

Jacob learned the hard way that ear protectors are a must when you go to a Grand Prix:

For final practice I stood at the Hanger straight with the entrance to Stowe. After five minutes all my mates were looking around for ear plugs!

It was very loud, something you don’t get at home on your TV. The next greatest impression is the sense of speed, I moved up to Becketts and the speed they take it is insane. Hamilton went off at the exit at one point and everyone was cheering and laughing.

During qualifying the crowds and atmosphere grew exponentially. Every time a McLaren came past the horns, cheers and screaming started but were still no match for the Mercedes engine.

The other thing evident track side is the difference in car performance. The HRT cars looked particularly slow, heavy and seemed to be set up very hard. Watching the Red Bulls come down and fly into Stowe looked effortless.

Another thing that was noticeable is there is no way to tell which driver is who. I watch F1 as a die hard fan so I know whose helmet is whose but some of my mates were constantly asking, which one is Vettel, which one is Kubica… something needs to be done about that.

Overall it was a fantastic day, but next time we’re bringing chairs!

Follow Jacob on Twitter

Matt Butchers

Matt raved about the new grandstand at Becketts and found a great place to park:

We had three-day tickets with roaming grandstand on Friday and Saturday and seats at Becketts on Sunday.

We tried sitting at Luffield and Stowe but Becketts out-did both of these. We couldn’t believe our view – from the entrance to Maggots all the way to Stowe, and all the new section. We could actually see 11 different turns and two straights plus a big screen. I don’t know of any other viewpoint at any F1 circuit with that!

We were really worried about traffic into Silverstone so left our hotel in Towcester at 7am on Sunday – we parked by 7.15.

Oh, and our parking arrangements were excellent, with Silverstone schools parking, very reasonably priced and had excellent service with all the money going to local schools. They also do brilliant breakfast baps for much cheaper than they are at the circuit!


Marcello checked out various viewing spots on Friday before settling down to watch the main action from the first corner:

We went for all three days.

On Friday we watched the F1 testing from Becketts grandstand then we moved to the pit straight grandstand and we ended up watching the second session at Woodcote where the views were unbelievable.

On Saturday and Sunday we were in Copse E terrace. I was slightly disappointed by the tall fencing which was making it impossible to follow the race properly. Although I recognised all the drivers from their helmets I still found the race difficult to follow due to lack of info on tyre degradation, pit stop strategies etc…

The atmosphere and people were fantastic, the giant plasmas were okay-ish but for the times you had to constantly use binoculars.

The air display on Sunday was awesome, however the helicopter display on Saturday didn?t materialise and no one could tell us why.

Access to the track was very, very good and amazingly we didn’t encounter much traffic at all on all the three days, apart from getting out of the car park.

It was a great race and I?m very happy for Webber after all he?s going through with the team and the accident!

And a video…

And finally a bonus comment from Bev who shot some video from the new grandstand at Village:

I had a fabulous time at Silverstone this weekend. I watched practice and qualifying from various different grandstands including Vale (good view) and Village was good but I think I’ll go to Beckets next year.

Update: Apologies to Marc and Godfrey whose emails I missed at first. Here’s what they had to say…

Marc Walker

Marc was disappointed at booing directed at Alonso and Vettel:

My experience at Silverstone was a good one last weekend with many positive points as well as some negative points.

On Friday we awoke from our tent at around 7:00am ready to go see the first practice of the F1 cars. We were at the Silverstone golf club, south of Club but a fair distance to our seats in the pit straight so walking was a hassle since it was hot and dusty. Luckily we had free roam of most of the seating on the circuit and sat down in copse corner, and that to stop my brain boiling in my own skull…

We then decided to get ourselves some hats and t-shirts before the next practice. The Ferrari shop for my younger brother was a “must first” since he is a big Alonso fan. Getting him a small flag, Alonso hat and a Ferrari t-shirt was all what he wanted.

I on the other hand was probably one out of four people out of the whole weekend who actually wore a Nico Rosberg hat and T-shirt while most Mercedes brands other people were wearing were Schumacher numbers threes.

After mucking around in the Santander building we walked over to Woodcote for some more shade, since the temperature was getting higher and higher. Stupidly of me I was wearing jeans the whole day. We sat down next to some McLaren fans and we joked around with a bit of banter.

For Saturday I was still tender from the sun even with putting on a load of sun cream on the day before.

At 6:00am on Saturday I was awake. This time we would be sitting at Becketts in all the sun’s glory frying my brain through my hat. It was a good final practice and we were all in happy spirits for the qualifying phase knowing it should be a close one.

The camp site afterwards was quiet with all the McLaren fans being very silent with Lewis and in particular Jenson’s performance at qualifying compared to the Red Bulls. My brother thought it would be a good idea to brag about his hero getting third to every tent he could see with an F1 flag up.

I was confident that Rosberg would deliver at Silverstone and would get a chance at the podium if he drove well. Meanwhile my father was giving me 101 reasons why Rubens Barrichello is the best driver on the grid.

Hearing rain on Sunday for me was the best sound I heard all weekend since I wanted a good race not just a Red Bull one-two. Sadly it never carried on.

Finally in our seats at the pit straight we saw the drivers walk onto the parade bus and both sides waved and cheered, even Hamilton looked amazed at all the McLaren hats and tops being worn by the fans in the stands.

While slowly driving around the circuit the drivers were interviewed by the media Lewis and Jenson were cheered massively and obviously by the British fans, while Alonso was heavily booed all around the circuit by the spectators. Vettel though was given a mixed response, from being cheered last year to almost being booed half as much as Alonso this time round.

I felt disgusted by the British fans for doing this reducing themselves to what happens to Barcelona and Monza with other drivers being booed at.

But lucky enough the good old Red Arrows came around to entertain the crowd, of course we could only see around a third of the actual show since we were under the cover of the grandstand.

When the race started everybody cheered at Lewis and Jenson going up the grid, and jeered at Alonso and Vettel when mistakes or incidents slapped them in the face to hinder their race. Sadly being a neutral fan of all drivers, this was very annoying to hear British fans booing. Vettel though was slowly getting clapped by more and more people with him going up the grid even though being lucky with the safety car.

Webber and Hamilton at the award giving were clapped heavily with the performance they gave, while barely anybody clapped Rosberg when he revived third place, I though clapped loudly for a good performance by him nobody else seemed to care.

Godfrey Lant

Godfrey went along to the autograph signing and saw several top men from Ferrari and Lotus:

My 17-year-old daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed the three days helped by fantastic weather and a great atmosphere in the crowd.

We are keen F1 supporters but the lack of overtaking after the first lap is a problem that needs sorting within the next two years. Whilst you would expect Vettel to pass the lower ranks you would also expect the lower ranks to dice with each other and even with their team mates (if such a concept exists in F1 any more).

I’m afraid the single class support races did little for me and one of them should be dropped for a round of the saloon car series.

The best F1 racing for me was Sutil fending off Vettel. The Red Bulls are a class apart they look so planted through the corners.

Stefano Domenicali was extremely downhearted at the autograph signing although Rob Smedley wasn’t showing it. Mike Gascoyne assured us that Lotus will be “up there” next season. Thanks to all three (and a few others) for treating the paying fans with the respect that the vast majority deserve.

I presume that Silverstone will have got rid of the few remaining gravel paths next time and think about more seating in the public “catering if that’s what you call it” areas. Better quality catering should be made available in certain areas as well and the pricing policies of the caterers needs looking at. ??1.80 for a small bottle of water is an insult.

I suppose its been like it for years but Silverstone should count themselves lucky that true supporters will pay high prices for tickets in cramped seats knowing that they will see sponsor’s guests walking around in the centre area for free with better facilities. Hence the magnificent looking pit and race control complex is irrelevant to the paying fan.

Thanks to everyone who sent in stories about their visits to the British Grand Prix. I know some of you promised to send in stories but haven’t had time to yet – if I get some more I will post them here later.

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