One of the areas being focused on by Bernie Ecclestone in his recent criticisms of Silverstone as a Grand Prix venue was the media facilities. So, as the F1 press settle into the surroundings of the Hockenheim press room, Crash.net had a look at what's on offer at F1 venues around the world and how Silverstone measures up.

Who better to give an opinion that someone familiar with F1 and the media facilities on offer than renowned motorsport photographer, and person responsible for bringing Crash.net to your computer screen, Bryn Williams (pictured showing just how difficult conditions can get for the F1 photography fraternity)

Q
Tell us why you're well placed to be able to comment on the press facilities on offer at the various Grand Prix venues around the world?

Bryn Williams
I've been fortunate enough to be involved in F1 since the early 1980s, having attended in excess of 300 Grands Prix; I'm one of the lucky ones in that not only is it my profession but it's my passion and career, I love it and am very, very fortunate.

Q
How would you describe the press facilities at Silverstone?

BW
The Silverstone facilities are on a par with most of the other Grands Prix currently on the FIA Formula One World Championship, but that isn't to say that they can't be improved. It's unfair and unfortunate that this political wrangling is happening in the public domain, I feel the reason for this is because Bernie and Max really do want Silverstone to be the very best but unless they flex their political muscle and remind everyone from the BRDC through to the UK Government what immense power they really have then things will not proceed at the rate they want and, yes, there probably is a very real risk of losing the British Grand Prix. Why you may ask? Because they can and they just even might to prove a point!

Q
Where would you rank the Silverstone facilities compared to other circuits on the F1 calendar?

BW
I guess they come close to the top, possibly in the top eight venues, but obviously plans are afoot to develop totally new pit, paddock and media facilities, therefore in theory they will undoubtedly be right up there as the leading venue once the developments are completed.

Q
Where would you rate as the best press facilities on the F1 calendar?

BW
I guess you've got to look at Malaysia, Australia and the US GP, basically the modern Formula One Grand Prix event has outgrown most of the existing circuits therefore it's no wonder that Bernie gets frustrated with various venues although targeting Silverstone isn't exactly fair, however I can see his point as he wants his own home venue and event to be the very best, not one on the other side of the world.

Q
Where would you rate as the poorest press facilities on the F1 calendar?

BW
I wouldn't say there's one particular one, there are probably a number which could be improved in several ways, you'd be looking at the older venues such as Imola, Monza, Spa, Hungary, Brazil, Canada, France and Suzuka as they could do with a raft of improvements.

Q
Have you ever seen Bernie in a press room?

BW
Yes Bernie likes to keep tabs on what's going on but of course he doesn't need to visit personally as he has an army of lieutenants who report back to him. He attended the much reported team principal press conference in Montreal this year and he will pop in now and again but he's always in the paddock and to be fair he's always available should you want to meet and talk with him. Grown men quake at the thought of approaching him but at the end of the day he's a human being, a very astute and clever one at that and essentially he's a guy who deserves a great deal of respect from us all involved in F1, I for one think he deserves a better press.

Q
Obviously you don't make use of the pit garage facilities but how does Silverstone look to an observer compared to the other locations visited during the year?

BW
The Silverstone garages and pit facilities are no worse than others when compared to other Grand Prix venues, the worst one for the team personnel to work at has to be Monaco, but of course all will change there next year. In terms of other permanent venues you'd have to say Imola has very small garages and very limited facilities for the teams, the paddock is small and difficult to expand.

Brazil is another which deserves a mention, although in recent times there have been limited improvements to the press room and the paddock but again nowhere near what should be done. Spa is another in the dark ages but people will argue that's a great circuit but the facilities are poor there too. In short there's no one circuit save Malaysia and Indy which are safe from criticism, they could all do with improvements here and there which is why it's so frustrating for the likes of Jackie Stewart, Martin Brundle and the BRDC when we all know there are others out there that deserve the wrath of Bernie and Max but I guess it's because it's our home event and they want it to be the very best that there's so much media attention given to this spat.

Q
What did you make of Silverstone overall this year?

BW
I thought the event ran well, the traffic flow was 200% better than in previous years, no worse than any other Grand Prix, the race was electrifying and the result was a good one for one of the nicest drivers on the grid. It's a shame that more people didn't attend but that's down to ticket prices I guess and the perception that F1 is boring, you can't blame them really.

Maybe when Formula One can start putting on an exciting Grand Prix on a regular basis and not the high speed processions we've seen in the past then the public will start flooding back. It has to offer value for money and for me I don't think it does at present, it needs to be more of a family show, start attracting the younger generation, that's what F1 needs and that's what all the sponsors want is to see new blood attending, it will happen but it's a gradual thing.

Q
So what's next?

BW
Here's hoping for another 20 years in F1 possibly not behind a camera though, they're getting awfully heavy these days, maybe I'll take up journalism, they seem to have an easy life and get invited to all the best parties, yep I'll do the next 20 years as a journalist, that's settled!

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