Silverstone won't cut crowd after GP wash-out
10 July 2012
Silverstone officials have pledged not to tinker with the number of tickets on sale for future British Grands Prix, despite this year's event seeing fans told to stay away after relentless rain turned sections of the circuit and surrounding area into a quagmire.
Some 127,000 people were present on Sunday to see Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber win a dramatic race setting an attendance record at the Northamptonshire circuit and marking a considerable achievement given the disruption caused by severe and unprecedented wet weather leading up to, and during, the event. Friday had been marked by traffic chaos as fans driving to the venue found car parks closed and campsites being evacuated, while persistent rain throughout the day prompted the circuit to advise those heading for qualifying on Saturday to stay at home, at the potential cost of millions of pounds.
“Given the extreme weather conditions and position we found ourselves in on Friday, I don't think Sunday could have gone much better," MD Richard Phillips said, "The sun shone, we had a great race, a popular winner and I'm delighted that we were able to get all the fans in and out of the circuit. There were some unavoidable delays but, on the whole, we managed to keep everyone moving safely.
“The fans really have been incredible - they make the British Grand Prix and are truly exceptional. I'd like to thank every single one of them for their continuing support over what was a trying weekend. We had to make some difficult decisions on Friday, but they turned out to be absolutely the right decisions. Limiting the number that travelled to the circuit by car on Saturday enabled us to work through Friday night, all day Saturday and Saturday night to ensure that we were in better shape for Sunday to get everyone into Silverstone for the main race. It was an incredible effort by all the staff here.
“However, we couldn't have done it without everyone's patience and people listening to the information being giving out. By working with us, we were able to overcome some serious challenges to deliver a great British Grand Prix for the fantastic British fans.”
Phillips also thanked the local community, who rallied to support both the circuit and spectators.
“The support of the local community has been wonderful," he confirmed, "Local farmers got in touch offering camping facilities – some of which we used to re-site campers on Friday night – and we even had people camping in gardens. Everyone pulled together; it was actually quite humbling.”
Despite the exceptional weather, which has led to many other events being cancelled up and down the country, the fans created a fantastic atmosphere over all three days of the event. The total cumulative attendance reached 297,000, with 80,000 at Silverstone on Friday and 90,000 on Saturday.
After the thrilling F1 race, more than 22,000 stayed behind to continue the post-race celebrations and hear from drivers at the Grand Prix Party, which was free to all ticket holders. British favourites Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Paul di Resta joined a host of other motorsport legends and current F1 drivers on stage, with race winner Webber and Red Bull stablemates Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Verne, as well as Nico Hulkenberg making appearances.
While Silverstone has promised a thorough review of the weather-related issues leading up to, and during, this year's British Grand Prix, and vowed that lessons will be learned, the circuit has also assured fans that it would not consider dropping the number of tickets on sale in future. Instead, it has said that, despite increasing its capacity for this year's race with the construction of new grandstands, improvements would be made to the venue's infrastructure to ensure there is no repeat of the problems.
"The decisions we had to make were very tough," Phillips told Sky Sports News on Monday, "But if we hadn't of made them, yesterday wouldn't have gone ahead and that would have been catastrophic for the fans for the event and for the business."
"We've maintained the capacity, we've increased it a bit recently, but basically we've managed the capacity over the last few years. In the future, we'd love to be able to increase the capacity but, as this weekend's proven, there's got to be some good background grounds in place to be able to do that."
As ever, the cost of improvements needs to be funded, and Phillips has already made it clear that Silverstone will not be putting hand in pocket for the full amount, despite the desire to 'put more roadways in [and] sort out the campsites'.
Silverstone will shortly be issuing communications to advise on next steps for those fans who experienced difficulties over the weekend.