My First British Grand Prix23 May 2023
There’s something incredibly special about attending your first ever Formula 1 Grand Prix. And even more so when it’s held at Silverstone Circuit, the home of British motorsport.
After a long car journey from the north of England, seeing the first road signs for Silverstone was not only a relief, but it brought emotions like never before. Maybe it was the tiredness, but also the excitement and the adrenaline of being so close to my first ever F1 race. Passing the main Silverstone roundabout and heading towards our campsite made it feel realer than ever.
Wednesday consisted of pitching the tent and exploring. From our pitch at Woodlands, we could just see the top of Stowe grandstand. The track was literally within walking, and touching, distance. We explored the campsite and even headed through the campsite’s gates to the outer perimeter of the circuit itself. That was the first time I saw Silverstone in its glory, from the race track itself to the iconic Wing. Thursday morning could not arrive quick enough.
As soon as security scanned my ticket, I headed for the closest barrier between trackside and the track itself. Having seen race cars and motorbikes run lap after lap around this circuit, and to finally actually be there knowing there would be cars on track in less than 24 hours, the adrenaline was kicking in fast. First pitstop: the Castore Megastore at Silverstone. It was a first to be able to actually browse F1 merchandise in person, try on a hoodie and check it was the right size in the mirror. Of course, it was impossible to leave without something in a Castore bag…
We made our way towards the Silverstone Interactive Museum and joined the queue for entry, after exploring the Fanzone on our way. The Museum was a real never-before experience; I was seeing racing cars past and present up close and personal whilst learning more and more about the history of the circuit and its surroundings. I even touched a rear wing… (sorry @ the FIA, please don’t fine me). We ended our lap of the Museum with The Ultimate Lap before heading back towards Abbey, stopping at the iconic Sir Lewis Hamilton mural to take plenty of pictures.
Then, it was time to eat and refresh ahead of our Pit Walk slot in the evening. A Pit Walk that we will never forget. How amazing it was to see inside the garages and different parts of each car up close, from front wings to side pods. Carlos Sainz headed out for a track run and Esteban Ocon returned to the Alpine garage from elsewhere. Of course, we snapped some pictures of the Aston Martin Safety Car before bumping into two of Sky Sports’ iconic faces: Ted Kravitz and Natalie Pinkham. It was all about the BeReal in the Pit Lane, so I made sure to snap mine before heading to the track to take some pictures on the Grid.
With hungry stomachs and tired legs, we headed back to the campsite to prepare ourselves for Friday: day one of on-track action.
On entering the circuit on Friday, we were greeted by the roar of the F3 engines and the emotions came running back again… real life fast cars! With Friday inner track passes, we made our way towards the Wellington Straight bridge to find a good viewing spot for FP1. Our afternoon was spent in the Fanzone watching the on-stage action, where the W Series drivers were talking about their hopes for the weekend.
We had a difficult decision to make when it came to our FP2 viewing point. With access to the grandstands on Friday, we headed up to Vale to watch the final Practice session of the day. The view was amazing – we could see the cars coming from Stowe, through Vale and Club then towards the Hamilton Straight. With the perfect view of the Pit Lane entrance, we caught each car as it headed back to its garage.
For F2’s Qualifying session, we moved to the Abbey South grandstand and made ourselves comfortable for even more on-track action.
On Friday evening, we were lucky enough to meet some drivers – including Lando Norris, Esteban Ocon and Mick Schumacher – and some Team Principals, like Andreas Seidl and Günther Steiner. The sun started to set on a beautiful Silverstone, and how amazing it looked with the ferris wheel lit up in the background. Onto Qualifying day.
Saturday brought a Qualifying session in the rain. We huddled under a small umbrella just past Club Corner, with a prime view of the cars racing down the Hamilton Straight to the line.
Although being front row for a Qualifying session was beyond exciting, the almost-spins and mini lock-ups were panic-inducing. The roaring crowd gave me goosebumps. The sound of the cars was far from what it sounded like on television, and multiply the speed by 100… blink and you’ll miss it.
We grabbed some food before returning to Abbey South for the F2 Sprint. It wasn’t long until Bastille were headlining on the Main Stage and that was something not to miss. We spent the night making memories with thousands of other F1 fans; there was just something about everyone singing along to Pompeii which made the weekend that little bit extra special.
The singing didn’t end there, either. As it turns out, there are plenty F1 driver related chants and we all got stuck in to cheering either Lando or Yuki’s name as we headed for the exit. Race day being hours away was finally kicking in and up went the adrenaline once more.
With camping chairs in tow, we entered the circuit for the final day and headed towards Copse to secure a spot in the GA Plus area. Once we set our chairs up, we stocked up on food for a few hours and settled in to spend the day watching what we’d came for: fast cars.
From the enthralling junior category races to the unforgettable car displays, there was plenty happening on-track ahead of the main event. The Red Arrows completed their flypast and it was soon time for Lights Out. Even thinking about preparing to see the first lap action brings back the goosebumps now.
During the Red Flag period, there was nothing but unease and worry among everyone around us. The relief when it came over the commentary that Zhou was out of his car and was okay brought the hugest relief to us all.
The race restarted and the action resumed. The cheers when the pack flew through Copse was insane, like nothing I’d experienced before.
Silverstone always brings the drama, and 2022 was no different. There was no clear winner from the beginning and we were left to guess whose strategy would prove to be the right one, with Carlos Sainz taking his maiden F1 win come the chequered flag.
With only a few weeks left to go, there’s no denying that everyone is counting down the days until we return to Silverstone for this year’s British Grand Prix.