240,000 record crowd enjoys "phenomenal" British Grand Prix
20,000 fans stay behind to see Lewis at Grand Prix Party
Lewis Hamilton became the first British driver in eight years to win his home Grand Prix at Silverstone on Sunday (6 July). Not since David Coulthard (in 2000) had a Brit celebrated on the top step of the F1 podium at Silverstone, and a passionate sell-out race day crowd of 90,000 were just as thrilled as the Vodafone McLaren F1 Team driver, after one of the most eventful and thrilling British Grand Prix in recent years.
Record crowds headed to Silverstone to cheer on the three British drivers - Hamilton, Coulthard and Button - including 65,000 on Friday and 85,000 on Saturday. All three days of the 2008 FORMULA 1 SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX were a sell-out and Managing Director of Silverstone Circuits Limited, Richard Phillips, has heralded this year's Grand Prix as one of the most exciting races and most successful events he has ever worked on.
Phillips commented, "From an event point of view, this year's British Grand Prix has been one of the best run, most entertaining and well supported events I have ever worked on. Sunday's British Grand Prix and Saturday's GP2 race produced some of the best and most entertaining on-track action we've seen for a very long time; and Lewis winning on Sunday capped off a fantastic weekend of racing. The 240,000 fans who attended over the three days, and all of the drivers that produced such spectacular racing on track, have made this a phenomenal British Grand Prix.
"Away from the track Silverstone has delivered another fantastic event. Despite the disappointing news that we won't be hosting the British Grand Prix in 2010, my staff have picked themselves up, worked as hard and as professionally as they always do, and delivered another incredible Grand Prix. 240,000 fans got in and out of the circuit without any fuss and we have proved, once again, that our team can deliver a near- faultless event.
"The fans have also played their part. No other country in the world is fortunate enough to have fans that are as passionate and supportive as ours. We had capacity crowds on all three days and they were treated to some unbelievable racing. The inclement weather certainly didn't dampen their spirits and, if anything, added to the excitement on track. Their support for all the drivers, but especially the British drivers, was fantastic, and the noise and atmosphere when Lewis won was amazing."
The atmosphere in the F1 Paddock was equally electric, as the sun came out towards the end of a fantastic race. A number of high profile guests and VIPs were making the most of the glamorous occasion, including The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, chef Gordon Ramsay, presenters Davina McCall and Vernon Kay, cricketer Kevin Pietersen, England rugby international Lewis Moody and this year's Female Face of the British Grand Prix, Gemma Garrett.
After the big race on Sunday, a record-equalling 20,000 fans stayed behind at Silverstone to continue the post-race celebrations as Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and David Coulthard joined a number of other F1 drivers and VIP guests at the Grand Prix Party. Established as a traditional finale to the British Grand Prix, the Party, free to all ticket holders, took place after the last race of the day on a purpose built giant stage in the centre of the circuit.
TV broadcaster Tony Jardine hosted the evening's entertainment and was joined on stage by a number of F1 drivers, personalities and celebrity VIP guests. All of the drivers received a heroes welcome, but the biggest cheer of the day was saved for Lewis Hamilton, who had earlier won the 2008 FORMULA 1 SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX, moving up to become joint leader in the World Championship.
In addition to the British drivers, Jardine was also joined on stage by F1 drivers Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg, Kazuki Nakajima, Nelson Piquet and Sebastian Bourdais. Celebrating 60 years of Silverstone, there were also appearances from former World Champions Damon Hill and Sir Jackie Stewart, British Grand Prix winner Johnny Herbert; and legendary F1 commentator Murray Walker.
Whilst celebrating Silverstone's glorious past, Jardine also caught up with some of the potential champions of the future. Five BRDC Superstars, beneficiaries of a BRDC initiative to nurture the UK's most promising young drivers, also made an appearance at the Grand Prix Party, alongside BRDC Superstars Director, and former BTCC champion, Tim Harvey.
Miss Great Britain 2008, Gemma Garrett - this year's Female Face of the British Grand Prix - also made an appearance on stage at the Grand Prix Party, organised to thank the fans for their continued support for the British Grand Prix. Gemma was overwhelmed by her first visit to Silverstone. "Today has been amazing", said Gemma. "The atmosphere, noise and anticipation just blows you away. And the race was incredible. Being the Female Face of the British Grand Prix, and to meet some of the drivers, has been such a privilege."