After the traffic chaos of this year’s British Grand Prix, Silverstone circuit has announced its plans to improve the fans’ experience and limit the effect of weather-related issues on their enjoyment of the largest three-day sporting event in the UK.
This year, the problems started for those fans who attended the Friday practice sessions. Back in 2001 approximately 18,000 fans visited the Grand Prix on Friday, whereas in 2012 that figure had risen beyond 80,000.
While the circuit has accommodated this number in the past, 40mm of rain on the Thursday and Friday of the Grand Prix left campsites waterlogged and car parks saturated, slowing down traffic on the A43 and causing considerable congestion on access roads to the circuit.
Consequently around 10,000 ticket holders were unable to attend – many of whom were asked by Silverstone not to make the journey – but these have all now been fully refunded by the circuit, at a cost (to Silverstone’s insurers) of around £1 million.
The Grand Prix itself welcomed a record crowd of 127,000 on race day, so according to the circuit’s Managing Director, Richard Phillips, the changes made will include further investment in the venue’s infrastructure, as well as increasing travel options for attendees.
One of the changes which Phillips would like to see is reducing the number of people driving to the event in their own cars. He said, “..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; (and) this is one of the areas we will be building on for 2013.”
For the 2013, 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 coming from the East, and in Turweston for traffic from the West.
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 these bus and shuttle services, 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 the circuit’s grass car parks must be left as they are, for both financial and environmental reasons.
Improvements to drainage and water displacement systems, will be made during the winter to handle similar downpours in the future. The official ‘Silverstone Woodlands’ campsite is also being increased in size by 70 acres, and in poor weather the density of plots will be reduced.
“The weather conditions caused delays in getting campers onto the site this year, which compounded traffic issues on the Dadford Road”, said Phillips, “..larger holding areas will enable us to get campers off the road and keep traffic flowing.”
We asked a spokesman for the circuit whether these improvements would impact the pricing at future events, and they pointed out that most of the changes were already being considered as part of the circuit’s plan to limit the volume of cars arriving independently. This year’s extraordinary conditions have merely accelerated the circuit’s plans to implement these changes.
As in any year, there may be a small rise in some ticket prices, but this can be as much to do with adjustments in tariff bands which can also lead to price reductions in some sections of the circuit.
Tickets for the 2013 British Grand Prix are now on sale, including Park and Ride tickets for the Friday. Full details are available on the Silverstone website.