Crowd, Silverstone, 2012

Silverstone fans’ mixed views on the rain-hit weekend

From the standsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Crowd, Silverstone, 2012The British Grand Prix spectators had to endure dreadful weather and some appalling traffic problems getting into and out of the cirucit.

Despite that, most of those who’ve been in touch with F1 Fanatic seemed to enjoy their race weekend and are looking forward to go again.

But while the majority of fans seemed to have had a good time it’s clear that some people’s weekends were badly hit, particularly by Silverstone’s advice to some not to attend on Saturday.

PaxJes was among those camping at the circuit who saw first-hand the challenging conditions:

“I woke up at 4am on Friday with the heavy rain and went back to sleep hoping it would stop. At 7am, as I was leaving the tent, it was still raining. The grounds were much muddier.

“I headed to the Club grandstand to see the first practice session and the GP3 practice. I must say this grandstand is excellent as you can see all the Stowe-Vale-Club-Straight part of the circuit, including the pits and the podium.

“Nothing much happened during first practice, got to see some cars spinning. I then headed around the circuit and positioned myself at Copse grandstand for the historic F1 cars qualifying and the second practice.

“One of the highlights of the weekend for me was the historic F1 cars. I was in awe of the roar those cars make, the sherr power of the engine is brutal. I can only imagine what a 24 of those cars would sound like.

“Then second practice basically did not happen so I decided to walk to complete the circuit lap. When I was around Stowe the cars decided to come out and I went to Stowe C to have a look, in the rain and wind.”

“Very poor traffic management”

Bleeps_and_Tweaks was only able to go on Friday and suffered in the heavy traffic around the circuit:

“Once I reached the A43 it was obvious there were serious problems at the circuit or car parks judging by the sheer volume of traffic waiting to enter. Unfortunately this meant I missed all of first practice, which judging by the Radio Silverstone commentary included some entertaining moments from Kamui Kobayashi.

“The traffic and general confusion was as bad as everyone has reported it to be, unfortunately. I along with most people was waiting patiently in line for car parks only for a side car park to open up 15m behind me at one point, which meant those behind swept straight in and filled the spaces, and I was almost last in the queue I was now part of.

“There were other examples of very poor traffic management throughout the Saturday morning, interspersed with lengthy stationary delays. However, once I reached an available car park the staff at the venue were excellent.”

“The whole thing was a massive shambles”

Silverstone mud, 2012Helene Stewart was even more frustrated after following the circuit’s advice and abandoning her plans to attend on Saturday:

“I bought five tickets to the qualifying for my brother’s birthday. I bought them in January and as far as I remember was not given an option about where to park. We were all looking forward to it, especially my brother as he had never been to a live F1 event.

“On Friday I received several emails from Silverstone, one of which asked fans with public parking tickets to stay away. This was the parking pass we had so we watched Twitter for a while and the BBC National and local news. We decided, after seeing the pictures and hearing the horror stories on Twitter, not to try to get to the circuit as we would most likely not get in and spend most of the day in the car.

“We were all very disappointed to have to take this decision but we decided it was for the best. It was then extremely galling to see on Twitter the next day the organisers themselves tweeting that everyone that went got in. I saw one Tweet from someone saying they had been turned away after 9am. We would have got there well before that as we planned to leave at 5.30am from Cambridge.

“If we’d stuck to our plan and not been good citizens and heeded the advice we would have got in and enjoyed the action (despite the rain!). We are all massively disappointed and deflated.

“To hear [Silverstone Circuits managing director] Richard Phillips say he felt very upset about it was also galling. So he should and no one should feel sorry for him. It’s his job to organise this event so that everyone who bought a ticket can get in and out safely and without too much trouble. Obviously we expect some traffic but to be told to stay away was awful. I had no choice about where I parked.

“The whole thing was a massive shambles. It’s not as if it hasn’t been raining since April, they could have predicted the ground would be wet and wouldn’t stand the traffic even without the downpours received Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“It’s pathetic that they can’t organise proper parking for all the people they sell tickets to. For the amount of money they charge and must make in profits, why not spend some money on car parking rather than posh new facilities for the hospitality people who have paid nothing? The fans, as usual, are the last people anyone thinks about and are always the ones who suffer. Drivers and organisers saying they feel sorry for us is not acceptable.

“Do something to fix it for good so that this never happens again.”

Taking a detour

On Friday morning F1vick found herself taking a detour through the Northamptonshire countryside on a double-decker bus:

“I didn?t have many issues over the weekend but that might be as I went via public transport. I got the train to Northampton station early on Friday morning where the first coach of the day to Silverstone was late and then we got stuck in traffic.

“But there was a passenger who knew a shortcut so told the coach driver and we ended up taking the back routes through the countryside in a double-decker bus.

“It was quite a walk carrying my stuff (a heavy rucksack, sleeping bag and a pop-up tent) from Silverstone village down to Woodlands campsite. Once I found my way to Woodlands it was pouring down with rain still and already very muddy but I only had a small tent so found myself a space quite easily.

“For people walking to the campsite it wasn?t obvious where to go, but I asked a few people and the helped.”

Having made it into the circuit Th13teen had their first opportunity to see – and hear – F1 cars at close quarters:

“We went straight to the Luffield grandstand and tried to dry off while watching the GP3 cars, which sounded like karts. Then came the F1 cars.

“I never expected such a scream from these machines. It sounds like what you hear on TV, up until the rear exhaust faces you, then the loudest roar and explosion is exerted, I have never opened my eyes wider.”

In the Paddock Club

Paddock Club, Silverstone, 2012PJ was also at his first race weekend, but got to enjoy rather more luxurious surroundings:

“I was fortunate enough to be given VIP passe, courtesy of Lotus and Total. I had done a cover design for a French magazine at the start of the season (for free) and Total were one of the main sponsors. I guess it was their way of saying thanks.

“The weekend overall was surreal. The Paddock Club is beyond fancy, and being a guest of Lotus meant we got to meet lots of famous faces, including Jackie Stewart, who had plenty of time for fans. The views were exceptional; from the Wing we could view everything from the entrance to Vale all the way round to the exit of Village, with a bit of the Hangar straight in the background too, along with overhead views of the pit lane.

“Traffic-wise, having VIP passes meant we could use the East entrance every day, which bypassed all of the traffic woes of Friday/Saturday. It took us roughly 30 minutes to an hour to get from a village near Towcester to the Paddock Club. We?d end up at Becketts, go round, under Copse and into the car park, where a shuttle took us to the Wing. Speaking of which, the shuttle nearly ran over Kimi Raikkonen on Friday morning.

“Highlights included having my poster signed by various drivers and team principals, meeting Jackie Stewart, hanging out with Craig Scarborough in the pit lane on Saturday, the noise of the engines shaking every bone in my body and generally just being there.”

Aka_robyn was sat opposite in the grandstand overlooked the pit straight:

“We sat in covered grandstands, so the rain wasn?t too horrible for us, although it made it interesting when the time came to get food/drinks or use the bathrooms. I can only imagine how rough it was for those who were camping in the conditions we had this weekend. By the time of the after party, there were patches of ankle-deep mud everywhere. That morning we saw people setting up lawn chairs to watch the race in mud that had to be several inches deep.

“On qualifying day, we sat in the grandstand along the pit straight, just across from the McLaren and Red Bull garages. I think that was the best decision I made all weekend, besides wearing my waterproof hiking boots, as everyone by now has heard about the wave the crowd in our grandstand got going in the pits among the team members. That was simply one of the best things I?ve ever seen! The energy in that crowd was pretty amazing.

“It was so crowded along the fence in front of the McLaren and Red Bull garages that you could barely see anything (or we couldn?t, anyway), but it turns out that had something to do with Vettel handing out cans of Red Bull through the fence. I couldn?t get anywhere near close enough to see that for myself.”

“Unbelievable support”

F1vick was one of those camping and had come to regret picking the ‘Lively’ campsite over the quieter ‘Family’ one:

“I’d read that Lively at Woodlands could be very noisy and it was. The concerts in the big tent was expected but I seemed to be near a load of people drinking into the night and shouting names all the time, so I may try for Family next year instead. I?m not complaining about them, I?m glad they were having a nice time but that?s not my scene so, yes, Family next year.”

Come race day, Ciaran was watching at one of the best corners on the F1 calendar – Becketts:

“For the race, there was unbelievable support for Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button throughout.

“They got the biggest cheers at the driver?s parade, compared to Raikkonen, who put up a hoodie and hid in a corner. Kobayashi wasn’t too enthusiastic either, he was clearly shivering and hiding from the wind behind everyone else.

“The first half of the race was a complete blur, there were some great battles through the Becketts corners, particularly between Felipe Massa and Sebastian Vettel, which earned Massa quite a few cheers up in the stands.

“The second half was a lot more settled, but not boring for an instant. The gaps between the top three were changing marginally every lap, and it was great to see all of them pushing to the maximum to catch each other.

“Personally I would have preferred an Alonso win, but I wouldn?t put down Webber for a minute ?ǣ he was visibly faster in the final few laps, and fully deserved to take the win, even if DRS took some fun out of it. We walked part of the track afterwards, and picked up a few tyre marbles as souvenirs.”

Track invasion

Back at the pits Ads21 was disappointed the podium ceremony got going so quickly:

“Post-race I was really frustrated that they started the podium ceremony before they allowed fans onto the track, by the time I?d gotten on to the track and ran to the near the podium it?d finished.

“If they put the podium off for a few minutes they could have had a Monza-style atmosphere for the podium. After that I walked along the pit lane and saw Button come out to sign autographs much to the delight of the hordes of fans in rocket red outside the McLaren garage.”

PaxJes stuck around for the F1 party but found it not to his liking:

“The party was usually a high point but this year I was disappointed. Firstly the mud – it was everywhere. I couldn?t see any attempt to minimise the effect, like wood chips or straw.

“And then there was the BBC Forum. I am a big fan of the BBC coverage and I don’t miss the Forum when I?m at home. But, was it just me, or was it the worst kind of blabber you ever heard?”

“Murray Walker was brought on stage,” added PaxJes. “When they made him repeat his ‘go, go, go’ like a puppet on a show i decided to leave.”

Traffic problems ease

Kim Mitchell was surprised at how smoothly the traffic ran after the race: “I walked back to car park and waited two minutes for a bus. I was out of circuit within 10 minutes and back in Northampton within 30. The Park and Ride was absolutely brilliant. Thanks to all – you did a great job.”

Chelseano161997 was very pleased with very first race visit: “It was my first GP and I really hope not my last as I think I caught the bug!

“I spent the day wearing waterproofs and wellies which is never a good look. I walked miles. I got hot, cold, wet, dry, muddy, caught a bit of a suntan and ended up with a car that looks like I drove a rally stage inside and out but I would do it all again. Except maybe next time no mud and rain.”

Ads21 had a long trip back to Scotland ahead and waited until Monday before leaving the campsite:

“Getting out on Monday was surprisingly easy for us, again having a four-by-four helped a lot in reaching the wooden planks that passed for roads along much of the field. These were pretty effective and it seems that combined with the presence of local rugby players people were getting out relatively quickly given the circumstances.

“Overall it was a fantastic weekend and well worth going despite the horrible conditions and has made me really want to go again next year.”

Fans’ pictures and videos from the race

Here’s some of the pictures taken and footage shot by F1 Fanatic readers at Silverstone:

Were you at the British Grand Prix this year? Tell us about your experience in the comments below or join in on the forum:

2012 British Grand Prix

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Images ?? Silverstone, PaxJes and PJ