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Written by Damien Marquez   
Monday, 19 September 2011 00:00

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Why go?

Silverstone is the home of British motor racing, and to some extent, Formula 1. The atmosphere there can only be rivalled by the tifosi at Monza. Red Bull Racing, McLaren, Lotus F1 Team, Force India F1, Williams F1, Caterham F1 Team and Marussia F1 Team call this race home and many of their fans make the journey to support the teams. Motor sport and F1 in particular are very well followed in the UK. The knowledgeable sell-out crowd usually makes this event a 'must-attend' for any F1 enthusiast. The atmosphere during the weekend can be described as 'a-ma-zing!'

 

Money matters

The UK isn't exactly renowned for its cheap prices and chances are you are going to find the experience requires a much more significant budget than most other grands prix.
Saying that, whilst expensive, it does not have to be outrageous. For those after a (first) taste of F1, Friday General Admission tickets start from £45 and parking, provided on a first come first serve basis, is free of charge on that day. This ticket gives you access to any of the grandstands for the day. When you consider what the weather can be like, it is very valuable to know you can retreat in one of the 13 covered grandstands.

With regards to the overall average costs (per adult) of getting and staying there for the weekend, we would advise to plan for the following:
- £200 for transport/parking (if originating from the UK),
- £45-£265 for a campsite plot (Woodlands/Litchlake Farm/Whittlebury Park) or £25-£700 for hotel accommodation (the further the cheaper). New for 2012 is the Snoozebox (ensuite cabins with all mod cons behind the National Pits Straight) for £200 a night; and
- £65 for food and beverages. Although food prices inside the circuit are comparable to those in Central London, it is worth noting that Silverstone is one of those rare circuit organisations that allow food to be taken inside.

It is possible to spend far less than the above, however, the above figures are based on listed prices and the actual budget of 8 spectators who attended the 2011 event.

 

Tickets prices

The funny thing with Silverstone is that, relative to other grands prix, the cheapest tickets are quite expensive and somehow the most expensive tickets are reasonably priced. Value for money is therefore found in the more expensive tickets.

 

Weekend passes:
- £420 Club Silvertone (located at Maggotts/Becketts and not to be confused with Club)
- £315 covered grandstands at Club B, International Pits Straight, Abbey, Village B, Luffield B and Woodcote A
- £285 covered grandstands at Luffield A and Woodcote B
- £285 Vale, Clubs A, Farm Curve and Village A grandstands
- £225 covered grandstands at National Pits straight and Copse
- £225 Stowe
- £155 General Admission

 

Sunday only passes:
- £270 covered grandstands at Club B, International Pits Straight, Abbey, Village B, Luffield B and Woodcote A
- £240 covered grandstands at Luffield A and Woodcote B
- £240 Vale, Clubs A, Farm Curve and Village A grandstands
- £190 covered grandstands at National Pits straight and Copse
- £190 Stowe
- £135 General Admission

 

Saturday only passes:
- £80 General Admission

 

Friday only passes:
- £60 General Admission

 

There are some early bird saving available for those able to book up to a year in advance.

 

(Picture: Silverstone Circuits Limited)

 

Which grandstand?

Most grandstands offer a sizable view of the track, which is better than most other circuits.

The views from the International Pits Straight grandstand are no different to any other pit straight on the calendar. Great atmosphere at the start and finish. The view can be a bit disappointing when you compare these grandstands to others around the track.

Abbey has views on the start/finish line and the pit lane exit. Unfortunately, despite being located in front of Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari pit garages, very little of the pit stops can be seen due to the pits being at a lower level than the main track obstructing the view. The TV screen is also quite far away and not directly opposite the grandstand.

Farm Curve is located after the first corner and pit lane exit. This allows to clearly see which driver is leaving the pits and a good spot for amateur photographers due to the slower speed of the cars leaving the pits. There is also a view into the Village corner and The Loop.

Village A has great views of the track through the Village Loop. You can also view across to Maggots and Becketts. The TV screen opposite is well positioned.

From Woodcote A, you can see the whole of Luffield corner, Woodcote and right down the National Pits Straight. The cars are very slow and twitchy through Brooklands/Luffield and the Luffield/Woodcote grandstands make a lot of sense for keen photographers. Be prepared for plenty of overtakes and a lot of on track action.

Copse is fantastic. The quick change of direction from the F1 cars taking this right-hander is very impressive. There is also a great view of the big screen for those not wanting to rent a FanVision unit.

Club Silverstone and Becketts are the only places where you can watch the cars on two different parts of the track, as cars can be seen on their way back through the Village complex. The opposite is not necessarily true and Village B offered poor view of the TV screen. You can also view the cars going down the Hangar Straight from Becketts too.

Stowe is a very fast corner where there is usually some overtaking induced by driver mistake. Always a favourite with the regulars. Stowe A is closer to the track but Stowe B offers a better overall view from Hangar Straight (also visible from Stowe A) down to Vale, the pit entry and Club (also visible from Stowe C). Stowe C is quite a bit away from the track due to the gravel trap in front of it. All three grandstands have a good view of the big TV screen there.

Whist great of knowing who comes into the pits, the Vale grandstands are quite far from the track. There is a General Admission area between the track and the stands. It is also far away from a large TV screen.

Club B offers exceptional views: from Stowe, down to Vale for pit entry, Club and the International Pits Straight for the start/finish and pit stops. It is also the grandstand facing the podium.

 

Points to remember:
- Although the space available to General Admission ticket holders has improved with the new track layout (Vale GA a big winner), it is still worth paying for a grandstand ticket for a good view. If high enough, the seat will allow you to view the cars above the security fences - a big plus for anyone wanting to take good shots or video footage.
- Whilst GA Friday ticket holders can enjoy a 'roving' grandstand seat on that day, only grandstand ticket holder will enjoy this privilege on Saturday. This also give the ability to watch Free Practice 3, Qualifying and the race from three different point around the track.
- A grandstand ticket for Silverstone removes the need to be there very early (7am) as the diehard fans will be queuing at the gates before they open to get good general admission spots.

 

Overall satisfaction

80% of spectators who reviewed their Bristish GP experience rate it as excellent and 20% as average.

 

Here is the detail:

- Ease of transportation to and from the track - good

- Atmosphere - excellent

- Program / schedule - very good

- View of track action from seat - very good

- View of TV screen from seat - very good

- Quality of commentary (from track PA/radio) - average

- Availability of current season merchandise - very good

- Quality of facilities/amenities - average

- Quality of food - good

- Quality of beverages - very good

- Value for money - good

 

Useful tips

- If you decide against renting a FanVision unit, at least take a radio and tune in to BBC Radio Five Live. Take good canalphones to block the excess noise from the car so as to actually hear the commentary.

- The 2011 weather was unpredictable and variable at the best of times. Bring both sun protection and rain gear as the weather can change in minutes. Avoid umbrellas, as they obstruct the view of the spectators behind.

- Make sure you get to the circuit really early if you hold a general admission ticket. Save a spot just before 6am (no typo there) as the best viewing area will be full after the hour.

- Take a camping (folding) chair if you are opting for a General Admission ticket. A good spot from where to watch qualifying and the race is at the exit of Becketts. Although you need to get there very early to mark your spot, you'll find out everyone is very friendly and will keep an eye on your chair if you want to go to get food or drinks. The only downside of Becketts is the shortage of toilets. Be prepared to queue for up to 30 minutes.

- Other recommended GA views are from Club/Vale and Luffield.

- A one way system is put in place around the weekend so it can be difficult to get in and out by car. No problems on Saturday apart from lack of signposts in the car park. In case you are not sure whether allowed to park in a spot when you arrive, ask a steward.  To leave, drive until you see an exit sign (not as easy this may sound).

- A lot of people choose to camp at Silverstone during the grand prix weekend, to avoid commuting to either Northampton or Milton Keynes (the two nearest cities bus links). This is definitely the best option for those wishing to 'rough it out' as it removes the need to drive in and out of the circuit everyday. Most camp sites are within walking distance (at least 10 minutes) and the furthest out often offer shuttle buses.

- However, don't camp if you're not prepared for it to be a grim experience if it rains. Dismiss chances of showers in Silverstone at your perils. Katy Peach (@PeachyF1) recommends those going general admission to watch from Luffield and camp at Litchlake as it is great value for money: only £45 for the whole weekend (Thursday to Monday) and has lots of on site shops and entertainment.

- There was a campsite hosted by Marussia F1 Team in both 2010 and 2011. It is quite expensive but you get to meet their drivers and there are bands playing every night as well as a giant TV screen with reruns of practices, qualifying & race. A brilliant experience thoroughly recommended no matter which team you support. They also provide free shuttle buses to/from circuit every day.

- In 2011, there was a concert on every night. The main GP party on a Sunday night is great as the drivers appear and bands play.

 

Websites to visit to prepare your Silverstone trip

silverstone.co.uk

silverstonewoodlands.co.uk (Woodlands campsite)

silverstonewoodlands.co.uk/content/about/types-of-camping/comfy-camping/ (comfy camping)

silverstone-camping.co.uk/ (Litchlake Farm campsite)

whittlebury.com/index.php?pag=cms&id=240&p=camping.html (Whittlebury campsite)

fanvision.com/f1

formula1.com

 

Finally, we would like to thank the following contributors for their help with this circuit guide:
Aaron Marsh ()
Kathryn O'Leary (@Thrinne1)
Lee Edgson (@edgsonimages)
Kayleigh (@kayels)
Katy Peach (@PeachyF1)

 

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Silverstone spectator guide
 

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