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
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 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
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
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
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 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
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.
- British Grand Prix 2007 preview
- British GP Preview Extra: What to take
- Spectator testimonial of visiting Silverstone