Adam watches an F1 race for the first time at Silverstone

From the stands

Silverstone 2011

Silverstone 2011

Our last ‘From the Stands’ contributor had racked up 25 F1 race visits outside Britain.

But for Adam Smith, the 2011 British Grand Prix was his first taste of live F1 action.

Here’s what he thought of an action-packed and controversial race.

Despite having been an F1 fan from the age of seven I?d never had the opportunity to go to watch my favourite cars in action.

That changed last week when I made my first visit to an F1 race at Silverstone.

We had General Admission tickets for the Sunday and I went along to the race with my girlfriend and my sister. The journey started at 3am on the Sunday morning from a very quiet Camden Town in London.

Having General Admission we could chose fairly freely where we wanted to sit and we decided on the short stretch between Stowe corner and Vale. We were in our seat by 7am, ready for the first support races to begin.

The GP3 and GP2 racers provided much excitement and entertainment, but unfortunately the Porsche Super Cup race offered little to hold the attention.

What really impressed me was the amount of support races and things to do before the race started. Despite arriving so early the morning did not drag at all, there was so much on offer.

The day was going extremely quickly and we were ready for some F1 action. The downfall that would provided a great start to the race was bad news for the Red Arrows, whose display was somewhat spoiled by the cloudburst.

I finally got my first glimpse of an F1 turning a wheel in anger and it was definitely worth the wait.

By the time the cars reached us I was disappointed to see Mark Webber had already lost his lead to Sebastian Vettel, who was leading by a few car lengths.

The first few laps were uneventful where we were sat but the action got better and better as the laps progressed. The atmosphere was amazing, and every time a British driver went past the crowd went crazy.

The first pass we saw was Jenson Button’s brave move on Massa around the outside of Stowe, keeping his foot in down towards Vale. It turns out we might have had one of the best spots on the race track as we saw many passes.

The driver who impressed us the most was probably Michael Schumacher as he made many passes directly in front of us and it was amazing to see such a superstar in action. It was a shame that he made the mistake of crashing into Kamui Kobayashi, but we didn’t see it happen on the video screens.

This was something that disappointed me when watching the race back on TV when I got home; there were many things that were not communicated well at the track. We saw Schumacher in the pits for a very long time and did not know what had happened; we just thought there might have been a problem during the stop.

The main thing that we missed out on was the fact that Webber had been told to hold position. We could see the gap reducing lap by lap and it was absolutely enthralling. The majority of the crowd wanted to see Webber overtake Vettel and it was great seeing the differing levels of grip.

I only found out after the race via Twitter that Webber had been told to keep his position. I was absolutely gutted that this was the case and especially the comments that Christian Horner made, saying that it would end with both drivers in the fence.

One of the things I relied on quite heavily for information about the race was Twitter, it proved really useful especially with the teams updating us to how many laps there have been and things such as strategies and collisions. I follow most of the teams and quite a few of the F1 Fanatic readers and, of course, F1 Fanatic. Everyone made the race far easier to follow and I thank you all for that.

My first experience of F1 was over far too soon and the last lap was here already. However we were treated to the last-ditch battle between Lewis Hamilton and Massa. They collided just to the left of where we saw and we didn?t know who beat who until about a minute after the race; the wait was unbearable.

I?m glad we weren?t robbed of this battle and it was great to see a little contact between drivers not punished with a post-race penalty.

Silverstone 2011

Silverstone 2011

To round it all off Hamilton then gave us another little gem, a doughnut directly in front of us and the crowd went absolutely crazy. Hamilton has got some amazing support in the UK and he definitely gave the fans something back.

After the race was finished we were given access to the track and we got onto the pit straight. It was absolutely packed and people were tacking photos left right and centre. It was a perfect end to a great weekend. Anyone who has ever had any doubt about going to a race should really think twice. It was such an amazing experience and I?ll definitely be booking my tickets for next year.

This is a guest article by Adam Smith (aka Smifaye). If you want to write a guest article for F1 Fanatic you can find all the information you need here.

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34 comments on Adam watches an F1 race for the first time at Silverstone

  1. BasCB (@bascb) said on 16th July 2011, 16:22

    A very nice read there! Thanks Smifaye.

    This is a very important point made

    I’m glad we weren’t robbed of this battle and it was great to see a little contact between drivers not punished with a post-race penalty.

    Good to see Ferrari take it that way as well. Must have been an amazing day. Did you meet up with some of the others at Silverstone?

  2. Johnny86 said on 16th July 2011, 16:46

    @bascb Yeah ferrari seems to be trying very hard to improve their public image. A small accusation of using the name Malboro and they dropped it without much fuss(but the post race interviewer still used it). Before the diffuser row could grow any worse, they quietly signed the papers despite suggestions that they gained from the row. Now is that a sign that maybe they are in the look out for more private sponsers and hence these good PR stunts??

    • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 16th July 2011, 18:12

      Or is Montezemolo cleaning up, for when he gets into politics full time?

      • Lee said on 17th July 2011, 16:10

        An Italian, clean politics, hahahaha! The dirtier they are the more votes they get.

        On a serious note though, Ferrari have undergone quite a big change in the way they want to be perceived by the public since the Schumacher era. They now avoid the public spats, and seemed happy to leave the diffuser row to red bull and mclaren.

        Its a positive thing for the team i have followed all my life and the current quiet behind the scenes work ethic can only lead to good things.

  3. Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 16th July 2011, 16:54

    Nothing like that ‘first time’ feeling, is there?

    I’m glad you enjoyed it, thanks for sharing!

  4. TED BELL said on 16th July 2011, 16:56

    My first Grand Prix was at Long Beach and was at the time when Gilles Villenueve had the 312T4 and it was on song. His streak at that time was a stint of 3 victories in 5 races. As this was my first attended event I thought that I already knew much about F1 and was blown away not only by the sound but also at the rate of speed that the cars approached corners. The Ferrari sounded like a bunch of angry hornets and as the cars came to the first hairpin I recall them coming from out of view ( the main straight was a sweeping right hander ) and sort of whipping at us before the sound of the engines could be heard. They were faster than the sound they made. Simply amazing stuff for an experienced F1 fan who followed Grand Prix racing at a time when only Monaco was televised and race reports came from Road and Track magazine albeit weeks after each race. I was hooked and Villenueve became my hero.
    To have the experience seeing , hearing and feeling what Formula One is about is something that every fan should do. Great story about Silverstone and I just wish I could hear what 18,000 RPM sounds like live. Looks like Texas is now on my agenda.

  5. Novotny said on 16th July 2011, 16:57

    I’m very surprised you weren’t listening to Crofty on Radio 5 Live. I haven’t been to a race yet, but when I do, that’s the commentary i’ll listen to as I watch.

    • Steven said on 16th July 2011, 18:39

      That’s the trick. I always take a radio and have the ear pieces in each ear, with my defenders over the top. Most (but not all) overseas races also have English commentary a well as the local language courtesy of Bob Constanduros. Silverstone Radio was on 24hrs a day for all three days.
      What did you make of the noise Adam.

      • smifaye (@smifaye) said on 16th July 2011, 18:42

        I thought of doing this, but I felt it was much more fun hearing the roar of the engines rather than Crofty and Ant.

        I wanted to hear the full force of their engines and I’m glad I did!

  6. Pete Walker said on 16th July 2011, 17:06

    Good stuff Smifaye, I remember reading your tweets from the track and feeling pretty jealous. Sounds like you had a great day.

    A bit like you, I’ve been a lifelong fanatic but never had the chance to go to a Grand Prix. I’m determined to go to the British GP next year as it’s my last chance to see Schumacher race (assuming he does indeed see out his contract).

  7. streetfightingman said on 16th July 2011, 17:51

    Doesn’t really say much about the experience. We already know what happened in the race…

  8. kateafan said on 16th July 2011, 18:11

    Fanvision at the track is a great way of keeping informed of timings and with Crofty’s 5live commentary all the important stuff, like team orders being issued. We were one of the few in our stand who heard Webber’s instructions.

    • Jay said on 17th July 2011, 2:52

      Went to my first GP this year here in Oz.

      Hired fanvision for the weekend, and would have had little real knowledge of how the weekend was unfolding elsewhere around the track without it.

      Those around me started asking for regular updates, particular for qualifying and for pit stop related passes and other minor incidents during the race. This includes people using the iPhone app.

      I’d definitely get one again next year. The only downside is it’s very distracting, often forgoing watching cars going past to follow action elsewhere on the track.

  9. Calum said on 16th July 2011, 21:54

    I think when you take into account the number of support series qualifying and racing at an F1 event, you can put to bed the rumour that it’s not worth going to a GP weekend because you see more on the TV.

  10. Marvin said on 17th July 2011, 0:08

    The last GP i attended was Montreal- The year Jaques Villeneuve stuffed it into the wall. For me the best strategy was to hang out at the circuit for practice and qualifying, soak up atmosphere, then rush back to my nearby hotel room to watch the race live on TV (windows open to hear the noise). Unless you had a seat near one of those Jumbotrons the race was a confusing, staccato, meaningless procession of cars and ultimately tedious. Twitter, and live real time coverage must help now, but it’ll take a lot to make me fork over to sit in an overpriced stand somewhere when I can, ahem… stream the race live in the comfort of my own home…

  11. paul sainsbury said on 17th July 2011, 1:43

    Clearly ‘streetfightingman’ is one of those people who is never happy with anything, and then has the astonishing rudeness to make a post like that when someone has taken the time and trouble to do this excellent little article.
    Unbelievable.

  12. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 17th July 2011, 2:41

    Well written probably one of the best I have read in F1F.

  13. Grammo (@grammo) said on 17th July 2011, 4:45

    Great article Smifaye, just the inspiration I needed. I’ve been mulling over going to see an F1. I went to Monza, in 99 I think and saw almost nothing. I was so disappointed. It had been a poor year for Ferrari but they managed to come first and second at their home event and I didn’t even know until I got home. I couldn’t afford a grandstand seat and Monza is such a flat area that if you were not up against the fence you saw nothing. The one thing that I took away from my F1 experience was the ferocity of the speed and the noise. It gave me that kick of awe, adrenalin and fear like seeing Top Fuel dragsters live. And to go prepared to get a good seat!

  14. Scudderite (@scudderite) said on 17th July 2011, 18:15

    I also went on Sunday to Silverstone – we had great seats at Woodcote and it’s true, every time a British driver went by, everyone clapped and cheered. I was expecting Lewis to have little support because of all the negative media about him, but he had more support than any of the other drivers. He was awesome at the after party too. A Telegraph journalist reported that he saw hardly any support for Lewis, just for Di Resta and Button, and a comment below contradicting that was subsequently deleted. And they wonder why we don’t trust our media. Other than that, the atmosphere was great at the race. There was only a little booing of Vettel and Alonso, but all the drivers got support. It was like a carnival. There were great facilities, but unfortunately, huge queues for the toilets. I thought the whole race was really exciting, and there was never a dull moment. It’s true that it was difficult to find out information sometimes – I had to ask the guy behind me how many laps were left, and luckily he had a Kangaroo and showed Lewis coming 4th. Then at the after party, I found out from someone about the under fuelling of Lewis’ car which explained him going slower. We watched the TV coverage when we got back. Off to Germany this weekend and will be interesting to compare the races.

  15. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 17th July 2011, 21:55

    Great read, thanks.

    The start last year at Silverstone was great, both me and my mate looked at each other and said “where the hell is Vettel?!”. You just don’t get that on the telly.

    We were well blessed with TV screens around Club last year but I’m a bit nervous about Monza.

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