A Hackers guide to attending the British Grand Prix

Want to get the inside line on how to maximise your experience of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone?
F1, British Grand Prix, Hackers Guide [Credit: Sarah Merritt]
F1, British Grand Prix, Hackers Guide [Credit: Sarah Merritt]
© Media Pictures

Want to get the inside line on how to maximise your experience of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone? Let super-fan Sarah Merritt give her pearls of fan wisdom to put you on pole position.

With Silverstone expected to welcome over 350,000 fans during the British Grand Prix, here are the key tips and tricks to make the most of your experience and beat the crowds this weekend.

Key to Camping

It might not be a surprise but at the festival of motorsport which is the British Grand Prix the best way to stay at Silverstone is by camping - but you can do it in style.

Most fans arrive on Wednesday when the campsites open in order to grab the best spots and at the top of the recommendation list is Woodlands, the official Silverstone campsite, which is situated behind Club Corner and Stowe.

Woodlands provides electric hook-up camping pitches, with permanent shower blocks and toilets on hand. The showers are operated by tokens that give you five minutes of hot water. Tip - use wisely, there's nothing worse than washing shampoo off your hair with cold water!

Woodlands also provides the ideal base for your race weekend with the short walk to the circuit, as it has a permanent pub aptly named The Petrolhead with big screens and hosts entertainment shows. There is also stalls selling food, F1 memorabilia plus a fairground and a circus.

Sarah says...

"Even though I really don't like camping as a rule, it's worth it, because we meet up with so many people from different areas of the country and even the world there. It is like an F1 Family because there are such diverse groups of fans of different teams, from different places, all brought together with their common love of motorsport... via social media is how we've met most of our friends there."

Perhaps not known to the uninitiated, the campsite is territorially marked out by a flag competition and the bigger the better. Whether it is the tallest flag pole to make sure your prized flag the highest or winning the race to get a banner on prime real estate, the competition doesn't solely take place on the track during the weekend.

The Thursday night show

Despite varying limitations on pit walks, heightened this year by the revised session schedule with support classes running practice sessions on Thursday, another highlight which Silverstone has produced in recent years is the live Sky Sports F1 Show on the main straight opposite the International pits.

Access to the grandstands opposite is free with big screens showing the action, while the majority of the drivers make it out on track to be interviewed and there is always a bit of random entertainment - who could forget Johnny Herbert falling off a hoverboard during last year's show!

Friday is the day to explore

With the circuit relatively quieter on Friday it is a more relaxed atmosphere. If you're looking for a cheaper alternative to a full weekend it is a good idea to come on Friday to be part of the race weekend and acts as a taster for a son/daughter/niece/nephew as a first experience for motorsport.

What's also ideal for Friday is trying out different Grandstands to get the full Silverstone experience. Aside from a few stands which are ticketed on the Friday, the majority of places allows fans to take a seat wherever they fancy so it provides the perfect time for a Silverstone grand tour with ample pit stop opportunities. It is a fairly uncommon chance compared to most F1 circuits and allows full access to iconic corners like Becketts, Luffield, Woodcote, or the end of the Wellington Straight before the National Pits area and opposite the BRDC building.

There is also a main stage for driver appearances and concerts in the evening - the one where Eddie Jordan frequently stars on the drums - which is also a key place to spot F1 drivers.

Sarah says

"It's not quite the calibre of Rihanna at Abu Dhabi or Kylie Minogue in Singapore, but it is entertainment nevertheless, and a huge green field space surrounded by food outlets where you can meet up with your buddies and chill.

"Top tip - you will find barriers to the rear of the stage, and drivers often sign along the crowd and pose for photos as they leave this area and get into their awaiting transport. You will also see drivers - both current and retired - coming in and out of the BRDC campsite that is on the roundabout to the rear of the stage. Have your autograph pen at the ready!
Sunday funday...

With race day naturally being the busiest of the weekend remember to leave plenty of extra time to buy food or go to the loo as queues are longer. Assuming it isn't raining (fingers crossesd!) also try to find a spot with open sky so you can watch one of the most iconic parts of the British Grand Prix: the Red Arrows.

Some people leave the campsites incredibly early to grab the best viewing spots so if you have your heart set on one particular place after your Friday touring, make sure you don't sleep in so you don't miss out - folding chairs are anther essential.

In 2016, Silverstone opened the gates around the full circuit and allowed fans on track as soon as it was safe which is a wonderful opportunity to get a unique experience of the track with Pirelli marbles scattered around. They also make the best free souvenir you can get.

If you want to get to the podium people start queuing at the gate opposite with a handful of laps from the end but a word of warning. Once the gate is opened it sees a huge crowd push forward in a dart across the gravel trap - it's called a trap for a reason! Be careful making it across or if you prefer take a sedately pass through the gate and watch the podium with the full crowd atmosphere in front of you.

Sarah says...

"The end of the race is a great opportunity to walk along the pit straight, meet up with friends who were seated elsewhere during the race, get that 'lights out' selfie and sit in the pole position grid box for a photo.

"You might see the Sky Sports F1 and Channel 4 TV crews in the pit lane interviewing, and like us last year, you might see Lewis come out and climb the barriers whilst spraying champagne!"

Follow Sarah Merritt on Twitter (@Sareyware) here

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