Sunday, 17 July 2011

British Grand Prix - Silverstone 2011

Silverstone F1 - Friday 015

Well what a weekend last weekend was, a full 3 days at Silverstone to see the British Grand Prix! My first ever Grand Prix and we did it in style!

Decided that this was the year, partly because I live quite near the track (within 40 minutes drive) and it's likely I won't live so close in the future, and mostly because my Mum and Dad wanted to buy it for me for my birthday, and my Brother in law was itching to go (and did all the hard work organising!).

We arrived in plenty of time for the first practice session on Friday, and found a grandstand near farm curve to watch from, it was very exciting to see the first cars come out onto track, although they were not quite as loud as I had anticipated. The rain started to come and we moved location to somewhere with a roof, and then the noise hit us, we were sat just as the cars were accelerating onto the straight, I felt deaf in the left ear for at least a few minutes, and realised that plugging into my radio was useful not only to hear what was going on around the track, but also to block some of the noise!

Silverstone F1 - Friday 016

Silverstone F1 - Friday 018

We wandered around the track for a while looking around, and then settled on Woodcote for session 2, a location so good we watched qualifying there the next day as well. An advantage with a roving grandstand ticket such as we had is that you are not tied to a location over the Friday and Saturday, you can pretty much get into all the main grandstands (other than the Vodafone and Santander ones). On race day you need to stick to your seats, but we were lucky in that we had an excellent view there too, looking right down Hanger Straight in one direction and across to Club corner in the other.

We took packed lunch, as food was a bit pricey (as you would expect) but we found the cheapest coffee and still enjoyed some bacon rolls throughout the weekend.

Silverstone 2011 007

as well as your own lunch I would say that an FM and a DAB radio are also essential, and making sure they are fully charged up. Don't rely on your smart phone to listen to commentary, not only is the track race commentary not online for legal reasons, but if you decide to listen to Crofty on Sports Extra you may find the 3G is not coping with the volume of people doing the same! Without this it is hard to follow what is going on in the sessions or race. You see a lot less at the track than if you were watching it on the BBC, but obviously being there is about the experience, but the radio helps you keep up, and you can always catch up with the race on the TV later!

Obviously some kind of waterproofing is essential as well, and it turns out a poncho, although looking silly, is the most effective way to stay dry (my waterproof coat left we with wet knees!).

Anyway, I will skip forward to the Sunday, we got settled in our seats very early, in time for the GP3 race, we were almost the first in our stand! The support races were sadly a bit dull and processional, but you could still feel the atmosphere building. We were attacked by a wave of tiny annoying flies at several points in the day, not a lot we could do about them but I was heartened to hear that Alonso had been attacked by them as well, not just our grandstand.

Silverstone 2011 025

I was surprised by the huge support for Mclaren at Silverstone, I guessed they would be a very popular team, but I would say 4 out of 5 people were sporting Mclaren caps or clothing. We did try spotting caps for every team on the grid, and failed to see an HRT cap all weekend! (Virgin were also thin on the ground, and I was surprised to see quite so many Toro Rosso caps!)

Silverstone 2011 018

After support races the Red Arrows did a display, and at that point the rain came (giving us a break from flies!) It only last 20 minutes of so, but was enough to wet the track, which in places remained wet until the race start.

Alonso then came out in a classic Ferrari, and did a few laps, getting very into it and sliding the car around Stowe corner. He then had to run for the flatbed that was carrying drivers around for the parade lap.

Silverstone 2011 012

I won't say too much about the race itself, as you probably saw it on TV anyway, but we had a Lotus break down on the Hanger Straight near us, Schumacher gave us a little entertainment with a few overtakes into Stowe, and we had a fantastic view of the last corner battle between Hamilton and Massa!

Silverstone 2011 027

Really great weekend and I can always say I have been to a Grand Prix, and I am sure I will do it again in the future, perhaps over to Spa for the next one?


  1. Nice write up Neil, looks like you really enjoyed yourself! Not that I'm jealous or anything!!

  2. It was good yes, but I hear that you went to Le Mans, I would love to do that!!!