Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Do you remember the first time? My first Silverstone experience - A trip to the races for the British Grand Prix

Published by Janna

I have always considered myself to be an armchair F1 enthusiast (or desk chair now I watch at my PC). I firmly believe I can see more at home than I would at a track and have much more information at my fingertips. However, I have wondered what it is like to be at a track and hear a Formula 1 car, so when my friend’s husband called me on Tuesday and asked if I wanted to go to Silverstone on Friday I was so excited I could hardly speak.

Entrance to the Formula One paddock in Silverstone.
Credit: Janna

The first thing I did was to ask the Sidepodcast community what would be happening and what I needed to take with me. Mr C kindly linked me to the Silverstone website for the timetable and Gavin linked me to this post from Dank which is really useful in itself and has been superbly supplemented by Alianora’s comment.

I managed to get badly sunburnt last Sunday so I took no chances this time and packed the Factor 50+. I had also put a water bottle in the freezer and took some cartons of juice. For snacks I had dried fruit & nuts as, although I love my chocolate, I am not a huge fan of a melted, hot, sticky mess.

I was picked up at 6am and, after an uneventful journey, we arrived just after 8:30am. Jon (my friend’s husband) had been given marshal’s guests wristbands by a friend who could not use them and we also had a car park pass so we were able to park close to the entrance at Copse. As we entered the circuit there was a noise like vuvuzelas which turned out to be Formula BMW Practice.

I had decided before I went that I would buy a programme as I wanted a memento of my first F1 experience. I knew they would be expensive but £12.00 was a bit more than I had anticipated. I bought one anyway, you’ve got to indulge yourself sometimes. We walked around the food emporia and merchandise booths at Copse and had a look in the Santander stand which was McLaren one side and Ferrari the other.

As we had the wristbands we were allowed into the centre of the track and we walked under the tunnel at Copse to find a spot to watch FP1. After much wandering around, looking at the circuit map and talking to spectator marshals we ended up on a mud bank with Maggots/Becketts on one side and Aintree corner on the other. I have posted a video on my flickr site which shows the view we had. Being by the corner was fantastic as the cars slowed before accelerating up the Wellington straight. Jon took a lot of photos of the cars through the fence but my digital camera was not up to the job.

I found the mechanics of the circuit fascinating, being able to see how the show is brought to us at home. The best was the telescopic camera which would go up & down and swivel as required. After Free Practice we wandered around the centre of the track, went to look at the paddock entrance, the BRDC and generally have a nose around. We saw the backs of the motorhomes which are massive and a huge line of trucks.

A telescopic camera films the F1 action in both its default and extended modes.
Credit: Janna

We walked round the outside to Stowe to find a new spot for FP2. Jon had been the year before and sat on the bank at Vale but our plans were thwarted by the new pit complex buildings which are a steel shell at the moment. We had lunch & ice creams (overpriced as expected) and I was now feeling the effects of the unrelenting sun so we walked back over the rickety bridge and sat under the trees. I drank every drop of the fluids I had brought and purchased extra. Once I felt a bit better we went back to our previous spot to watch FP2. Before that started there was a spectacular display from the Red Devils Parachute Display Team. If you ever get to see them, I would recommend it.

I was still feeling the effects of the sun and thought “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a parasol like Alison’s?” I realised I had my umbrella with me so watched most of FP2 from under my brolly wishing it would rain. Mind you, if it had, I would have been sitting on a morass.

Once FP2 was over we left the centre of the circuit and had a look at the van Lewis & Jenson drove to Silverstone. I love old VWs and this was a beauty. We then drove home. A few accidents meant it was a longer journey and I arrived home at 7.30pm happy if hot & sticky. I jumped into the shower then went out to see my friends, drink pink wine and eat pizza.

So, what was it like? Silverstone is an airfield. It was boiling hot, there was little shade and it was windy. The food area & merchandising was expensive and as I could not bring myself to pay £35.00 for a Kangaroo TV for one day & my phone had little or no signal we had very little information.

Even so, it was amazing. I dutifully put my earplugs in when FP1 started and thought it didn’t sound too loud. I had not realized the cars were going slowly at first. When they really started flying around the track I took an earplug out of one ear and I could not believe the noise. Hearing a real F1 car for the first time blew my mind.

I will always remember my first time, it was a perfect day.