7 July 2015
F1 British Grand Prix: Silverstone crowd provide positive twist to ‘negative’ F1
A record 140,000 raceday crowd was entertained by a dramatic British Grand Prix - and it didn't go unnoticed.
The British Grand Prix crowd was on everyone's mind at the weekend, none moreso than those insisting that F1 isn't in the sort of negative spiral that others would have us believe.
Amid all the talk of needing to 'uncrap' a product apparently weighed down by boring racing, undramatic cars, fragile engines, complicated penalties and teams struggling to make ends meet, both the live and television audience for the Silverstone event provided positive notes, with 140,000 coming through the gates on raceday alone.
“I always thought the British fans were the most knowledgeable fans in the world - and obviously they are much, much more so than anybody spreading negativity around,” Manor team boss John Booth commented.
It was hard to find a driver who failed to mention the support they had received from the massed ranks lining the circuit – support shared, notably, across all nationalities despite the perceived partisan nature of the British crowd – and other team bosses were similarly not shy of acknowledging the turn-out.
“It's great,” Claire Williams commented, “Silverstone has done, as they always do, a fantastic job in their ticket promotions and selling their tickets. I think we're lucky with the weather, but I think that does say a lot about our sport and I think it does say a lot, still, about how passionate British fans are - although there are probably fans from all over the world coming to watch us race at Silverstone this weekend. It's great because I think it still shows that our sport is healthy and people do still want to come and watch us race.”
While many were caught up in the moment, with the unusually warm weather and stirring on-track action adding to the Silverstone occasion, others were quick to point out that it wasn't just the British Grand Prix showing signs of bucking the perceived negative trend, with McLaren's Eric Boullier adding that both Australia and Canada had reported increased attendances.
“Crisis called off - question mark,” Mercedes' Toto Wolff chimed in, “Sometimes these things just happen at the right moment, and I think there were just such great crowds out there and then a race with all the ingredients that are necessary to make it a great race.
“In my opinion, I don't share that we are always 'half empty', because we had great races like Montreal, which was full, and Melbourne, which was full, and then Austria was pretty good if you consider it is a tiny place and we had 55,000 on the Sunday.”
There should be no resting on laurels, however, and it is clear that F1 does have serious questions to answer.
“The TV audience has been up in all of the last races in some of the major countries, but that is history and it doesn't matter,” Wolff concluded, “We now need to take each other by the ear and ask how are we going to make it better, to convince the critics that this is actually a great sport. I think we did some of that today.”
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