For my dad’s 65th birthday, I decided to take him to the British Formula 1 Grand Prix at Silverstone. I started planning the trip not long after the 2011 British Grand Prix. Hopefully the following tips will be of help to others who are thinking of doing the same. Top Tips for attending Formula 1 British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
There are a multitude of ticket options, you can get tickets for the entire weekend, or just Friday practice or Saturday qualifying or just the race day on Sunday. The tickets are available from various outlets and if you book early enough you can get discounted prices. I opted to get my tickets from silverstone.co.uk, I also opted to book over the phone as this allowed me greater flexibility on where I wanted to sit. Booking over the internet you get auto allocated seats. If you want to leave things right until the last minute then eBay is always a good source for tickets. We opted for race day only tickets and got lucky with the weather – Fri and Sat were a washout.
Silverstone release tickets in blocks – so I kept ringing back until the block I wanted had been released. I also opted for a seat higher up for a better view.
Where Do I sit?
Having not been to Silverstone before I spent ages trying to work out where to sit. I wanted a good view of the start/finish straight, visibility of the pits and podium, plus ability to see cars elsewhere on the circuit. As I’m not likely to do this again I decided to splash out on some platinum tickets (stupid expensive), which give access to a covered grandstand.
This was our view from the Club Platinum Grandstand : seats R270 and R271.
Club corner is a slow part of the track, so you get a good view of the cars and whilst overtaking is limited, it does happen. Not visible in these pics is a large TV screen to the right of the podium which allows limited viewing of the action elsewhere on the track.
Watching F1 live is all about a trade off. Watching on TV you will see more, but watching live you get to savour the atmosphere. If you want to see the cars at high speed then Becketts is a good place to sit.
If you get a grandstand ticket for qualifying then this acts as a roaming ticket and allows you to sit in any grandstand anywhere on the circuit, which is a great way for working out the best places to sit.
Essential Items to take
- Sun cream (it’s so easy to get burnt at motoring events, even when the sun is behind the clouds).
- Hat and sunglasses
- Ear defenders, ear plugs or in ear headphones – the noise of the cars is immense.
- Radio – this is an essential item. You need a radio with either in ear headphones or a pair of big bins to cut out the background noise. This way you can follow the action via 5 live radio or the local Silverstone radio station 88.7 FM. Whilst you can purchase radios on the day, it’s better to take your own. I just used my mobile phone. You can also hire small TV sets at the circuit.
- Packed lunch – food is seriously expensive, so take your own.
- Waterproofs and umbrella. Especially if you are not under cover in the grandstand.
- Money. The official programme is £16, beers start about £4. Burgers about £6. Hats are £25. T-shirts start at £50
- Binoculars – great for checking out the pit lane girls and the cars
Parking and logistics
If you are going for the weekend, then camping is the best option. I tried to book a hotel almost a year in advance and they were already fully booked, most of the local B&B’s want a minimum of 2 nights stay. For parking I would highly recommend the park and ride system. You need to book this when you purchase your main tickets. There are 3 different sites. Hinton Airfield off the M40 and 2 sites off the M1.
- It took us 90 minutes to get from junction 11 of the M40 to the park and ride site at Hinton Airfield (Farthinghoe). All roads into Silverstone are small and slow. Be prepared to queue.
- You park on the airfield, then jump on one of the waiting buses (there are plenty of buses waiting). First bus depart at 4:30am. Last departure is 11am. We had no wait time for boarding the bus.
- 15-20 minute journey from park and ride to Silverstone (single drop off at main entrance). Buses get some of the priority lanes
I’ve since found out that the local schools in the area also offer parking for Silverstone. Check out the details here : http://www.silverstoneschoolsparking.co.uk/
To give you an idea of timings, we left home at 7.20am Sunday morning and got into the circuit for 11:20 am. People with general admission tickets would leave much earlier in order to secure a good spot. If you want to see the build up and morning races then you need to leave much earlier too. All cars must be collected from park and ride by 9pm. The red arrows flew over about 12:15.
Whilst the McLaren performance was poor, racing not particularly close and I missed being able to follow all the action on TV, I’d definitely go again. The atmosphere was excellent and well worth experiencing. Post race they open up the barriers and allow spectators to walk round the track and get closer to the pit lane. I’d love to get paddock access in the future.
Got pretty close to the BBC camera’s, but not sure if we made it onto the Forum show or not as forgot to record it. Eddie Jordan and the team were great sports with the crowd.