As celebrations surrounding a sensational 2012 Formula 1 World Championship come to a close, Silverstone is already looking ahead to next season. For 2013, the circuit is investing in plans to improve the fans’ experience and limit the effect of future weather-related issues, similar to those that impacted the Friday of this year’s FORMULA 1 BRITISH GRAND PRIX and had a knock-on effect on the Saturday.
Access to Silverstone has improved immeasurably since the A43 dual carriageway was built in 2003, supported by the introduction of a sophisticated traffic management plan. However, unprecedented levels of rainfall in the weeks leading up to the 2012 race, including more than 40mm of rain on the Thursday and Friday of the Grand Prix, caused a chain of events that led to privately-owned campsites being closed on the Friday, which contributed to the congestion. Silverstone’s management then had to request some ticket holders not to attend on the Saturday, in order to preserve and repair car parks ahead of the main race on Sunday. While events were cancelled up and down the country, the British Grand Prix, which is the largest three-day sporting event in the UK, went ahead in front of a record 127,000 crowd on race day.
While public attendances reached 80,000 and 90,000 on the Friday and Saturday respectively, approximately 10,000 ticket holders did not attend. These fans have now been fully refunded by the circuit at a cost of £1 million.
With lessons learned from the severe weather-related issues surrounding this year’s event, Silverstone is making further investment in the venue’s infrastructure, as well as increasing travel options for fans attending future British Grands Prix.
Announcing plans for 2013, Managing Director of Silverstone Circuits Limited Richard Phillips, said: “For more than 10 years now, fans have had little or no issue getting in and out of the circuit for the British Grand Prix, so it’s important to keep the problems of this year in perspective. That said, the traffic issues on the Friday of this year’s event, and having to ask a number of fans to stay away on the Saturday, were far from ideal. We have learned from this year’s experience and are taking steps to ensure we’re better equipped to deal with whatever the weather may throw at us in future.
“In 2001 approximately 18,000 fans attended on the Friday of the Grand Prix, which was relatively easy to manage. However, our three-day ticket and entertainment package has become more and more popular and we are now seeing attendance figures exceed 80,000 on a Friday. We have been able to accommodate these numbers in the past, but this year’s torrential weather, waterlogged campsites and saturated car parks created a ‘perfect storm’ of unforeseeable issues, to which we were having to react throughout a difficult and challenging day. Ironically, prior to this year’s Grand Prix we had identified the need, and had been working on plans, to start reducing the number of people driving to the event. It will take time to change the mind-set of fans, but we need to ensure that public transport is available as a comfortable and reliable option. ‘Park and Ride’ has been a popular transport option and has worked well; this is one of the areas we will be building on for 2013.”
For the 2013 FORMULA 1 BRITISH GRAND PRIX Silverstone will be expanding its Park and Ride operation to run on all three days of the event. In addition to increasing capacity and introducing a Friday service from existing Park and Ride locations, Silverstone is also reviewing new locations for the three-day service, including a supplementary site in Northampton for traffic arriving from the East, and Turweston for traffic from the West. Park and Ride tickets for the Friday of the event are now on sale.
Silverstone is also improving shuttle services for race goers travelling to the event by train. A regular shuttle service will be in operation on all three days of the British Grand Prix from local major railway stations at Milton Keynes, Northampton and Banbury. Similarly, Megabus will operate a coach travel service on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the event from major UK towns and cities, including London, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Nottingham, Cambridge, Portsmouth and Cardiff.
In addition to expanding transport options, Silverstone is investing time and money to improve the non-tarmacked car parks on site. 40% of Silverstone’s car parks are already hard standing, but it is not feasible to tarmac the circuit’s grass car parks, for both financial and environmental reasons. Work is being carried out throughout the winter to improve drainage and water displacement systems, so that in the event of significant rainfall these areas are more robust.
The official ‘Silverstone Woodlands’ campsite is also being increased in size by 70 acres, to provide fans with an improved experience. In the event of bad weather the density of plots will be reduced and there will also be better segregation between the ‘lively’ and ‘family’ areas of the campsite. “More land will be allocated to get campers off the roads and into holding areas, while plots are assigned”, added Phillips. “The weather conditions caused delays in getting campers onto the site this year, which compounded traffic issues on the Dadford Road. Larger holding areas will enable us to get campers off the road and keep traffic flowing.
“One of the main problems on the Friday of this year’s event was privately-owned campsites having to close, without notice, on safety grounds. This resulted in bottlenecks as campers, being turned away, joined the traffic system with nowhere to go. For 2013 we will be looking to introduce a communication network with other campsite operators, to improve the flow of information about capacities, availability and access.”
Despite the disruption caused by the unprecedented wet weather, 297,000 attended over all three days of this year’s British Grand Prix. “Given the extreme weather conditions and position we found ourselves in on the Friday, I don’t think race day could have gone much better,” said Phillips. “The sun shone, we had a great race and I’m delighted that we were able to get more than 127,000 people in and out of the circuit safely. We are confident that we won’t see a repeat of the events of this year. Tickets for next year’s British Grand Prix are selling reasonably well and we’re already looking forward to what will be a fantastic three days of world class F1 action and entertainment.”
Tickets for the 2013 FORMULA 1 BRITISH GRAND PRIX are now on sale. For further information, or to book tickets, visit www.silverstone.co.uk. Limited tickets still available at Early Bird prices.