Steve's Rough Guide to the British Grand Prix

Main Entrance

For Formula 1 one of the biggest names is Silverstone where the British Grand Prix it first hosted back in 1948. As a bit of a fan, I have always wanted to attend the GP and, as I am living in England, thought I would finally buck up the money and attend in 2008…So, this page has some information I gathered over my experience that may be helpful…

General Notes

It can be very loud being close to the track so ear protection is definitely recommended as is rain gear (regardless of what the sky looks like). Days can be very long with events often going from 9:00 am to about 6:00 pm (if you want to stay for the whole thing).

If you are hard-core I would strongly suggest the “Kangaroo” system a portable video and statistics device for rent for the weekend. Though expensive, it does offer an impressive number of features including the ability to follow your favourite driver in their in-car camera while monitoring their statistics, real-time.

Tickets

Tickets are for sale quite a long time before the GP which is held in June/July every year from the Silverstone web site http://www.silverstone.co.uk/. Be prepared to spend well into the £100s for a ticket. Tickets are on sale for just a single day (e.g. Sunday) or all three days of the event.

Terrace - A “terrace” seat (for those people that may not be familiar with the term) is an area beside the track where no seating is provided. Often concrete portable seating is a must. This is one of the cheapest options for ticket and can provide a VERY close view of the action…

General Admission - The cheapest ticket but does not provide any reserved area for seating. You have to take your chances here…

Of course, anything is available for a price. If you want to have a trip to the pits, pit passes are available for sale as well as prizes offered by some groups on the grounds.

The Timetable

The three day weekend is composed of the following:

  • Friday - Practice sessions for the Formula 1 race. This day is “free seating” meaning that any ticket to the grounds allows access to any seating or area around the track. This is a good chance to have a look around the place and see what there is to see…
  • Saturday - Qualifiers for the Formula 1 race. Assigned seating areas only today. Generally more people than on Friday…
  • Sunday - Race day. VERY busy and expect a lot of time to get in and out of the track.

It should be noted that throughout the weekend there are various other races (qualifiers, practice sessions, etc.) as well as other displays on offer.

Where is the Best View?

This is the perennial question. Which section of the track offers the best view of the race? If you want to experience the sheer speed and exhilaration of the race then Becketts is definitely a place to be while Stowe tends to see a lot of accidents. If you want to get really close to the cars then the final corners at Luffield is the place to be. Though they are not travelling fast you are not much more than 40 feet from the cars…

Of course, there is always Copse which offers a great view of both the stretch leading from the first corner to Maggotts and Becketts but also of the main start/finish straight. A lot of action happens here, particularly early in the race…

Facilities

There are lots of places to buy souvenirs throughout the grounds as well as very good and, surprisingly, not TERRIBLY expensive food. Do not expect haute-cuisine but it is quite good, really…Gourmet burgers and the like.

Team Exhibit

Expect that cap that you want from your favourite team to be VERY expensive as well as any shirts or what-not that you would like. Bargain shopping is not possible here…

Terrace Etiquette

Due to the nature of the terrace seating things can get a bit fraught.

  • On race day be prepared to be amongst the first onto the circuit when the doors open to secure your place in the terraces. The terraces will also be VERY crowded.
  • Be aware that umbrellas can obstruct other people's view.
  • Terraces can be loud places – Not just the cars, the people!
  • Terraces are NOT covered…If the rain comes…
  • Be kind to your neighbours – It is very crowded.

Terrace Fun

Getting There

The Silverstone circuit is located just outside of Northampton off of the M1 motorway north of London. On the Friday and Saturday you can park freely at the circuit but on the Sunday there are special parking arrangements. In 2008 there were three separate park and ride car parks set up where you could leave your car and take a bus to the circuit. Single drivers were limited to this approach. If you had several people in the car (with tickets) you could park at the circuit itself using a parking pass issued when you purchase your tickets.

There is also the well-known option of taking a helicopter to the circuit which avoids the traffic situation entirely (though even the helicopters can be VERY busy). Several groups offer packages that will fly you in and out of the track.

Weather

Expect at least some rain during the course of the weekend. Though there were problems in past years with car parks turning into oceans this situation has been improved over the years and is MUCH better now.

Accommodation

Though Silverstone itself does not offer any accommodation a number of local farmers (and land owners) do provide camping on their land. This is actually a reasonable option as you can walk to and from the circuit every day – Walking past the queues of traffic as you go. Of course, you need to consider the above, namely, “Weather”.


Lewis Hamilton Cruising to Victory 2008