Despite the fact that over seven million people in the UK watched the championship-deciding Brazilian Grand Prix on television, very few people ever go to a race.
Formula One may be the third most watched sporting event in the world – after the Olympics and football World Cup – but with only one event in UK every year, it’s not the most accessible of sports.
But getting the chance to watch a Formula One car roar past in the flesh is not necessarily as expensive and as difficult as you might imagine.
If going to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone is as far afield as you’re willing to travel, then the options open to you are endless.
The cheapest option – if you just want to experience the thrill of watching a Formula One car driven in anger – is to get to Silverstone on the Friday of the Grand Prix weekend.
A Friday-only General Admission ticket – which, unlike on race day, will give you access to all open grandstands – will set you back £49 (£24 for a child), though this will rise to £65 when the ‘early bird’ offer comes to an end. For this, you will get the chance to watch three hours of Formula One practice, on top of practice and qualifying sessions for the support races, including GP2, GP3 and the Porsche Supercup.
Saturday-only tickets cost £85 (£42.50 for children) however these will not grant you access to grandstands for qualifying.
For this, you will need a three-day weekend grandstand ticket. As I explained in an earlier post on the view from the Silverstone stands, there are many to choose from. The cheapest available at the moment is a weekend seat at Copse corner for £180, however a grandstand ticket gives you roving access to all open grandstands on the Friday and Saturday.
If it’s only the race itself that you’re interested in, a Sunday General Admission ticket costs £145 (£73 for children). And while that may seem a bit pricey, there’s so much more than the Grand Prix itself. The morning will feature three support races; a host of air displays, including the red arrows and a Grand Prix party after the race.
At the moment, however, an extra £7 will get you a covered seat at Copse corner, which seems like an attractive option given the deluge suffered by last year’s race-goers.
The easiest – and cheapest – way to get tickets to the British Grand Prix is via the official Silverstone website.
Getting to Silverstone
In terms of how to get to the Silverstone, there are plenty of options open to you.
If you’re only going on race day, Megabus operates a service from over 50 towns and cities across the UK from as far away Edinburgh, Southampton, Plymouth and Swansea. A return ticket from Cardiff, for example, costs £30, leaving at 6am and departing Silverstone at 4pm, around 90 minutes after the chequered flag.
Alternatively, Silverstone operate a Park and Ride service, just off the M1 and M40. For the first time, this service will operate on the Friday of the Grand Prix weekend. If you’re attending on all three days, it costs £15 per car. A one day pass is priced at £5.
If you wish to arrive by train, the nearest mainline stations are Banbury, Milton Keynes and Northampton. Stagecoach provides a bus service from all three stations throughout the weekend.
For those arriving by car, 2012 was a bit of a nightmare. Silverstone suffered from torrential rain in the build-up to the weekend. Fans were warned not to travel to the circuit for qualifying on the Saturday, in order to let the grass car parks recover in time for race day. Nevertheless, if you wish to travel by car to the 2013 British Grand Prix, a three-day car parking pass will cost you £60. A Sunday-only pass, however, will cost just £45.
Directions are available on the Silverstone website.
There are a number of campsites within a short walk of the circuit. Silverstone’s official campsite is Silverstone Woodlands, which costs £60 per person (£20 for children) and located on the south side of the circuit near Club corner. However on the three occasions I have been to the British Grand Prix, I have always camped at Whittlebury Park, which is a 5 minute walk from Copse corner. You can see a full list of campsite surrounding the circuit by clicking here.
If, however, camping is not for you, the Silverstone website has a comprehensive section listing local hotels and B&Bs.
If arriving by car, leave very early – especially on race day.
Remember your binoculars! There are many giant screens dotted around the circuit so you can follow the race properly. However, unless you’re lucky, they’re not normally giant enough to be able to read the on-screen graphics properly with the naked eye.
Take a pocket-sized radio and tune into BBC Radio 5 Live or Silverstone Radio of 87.7 FM.
Wear ear plugs! If you have never been to a Grand Prix before, nothing will surprise you more than the deafening noise. Ear plugs are available for purchase at the circuit.
Finally, if you have any money to spare, hire one of the hand-held Fan Vision controllers, aka Kangaroo TV’s. From one of these you will be able to watch the world feed shown on the giant screens and to millions of TV viewers around the world. In addition to that, you will have access to a range of commentaries; team radio, timing screens and a host of on-board options.
If you have been to the British Grand Prix and would like to give advice to other fans thinking of going for the first time, please share your experiences and tips below!