My Silverstone Experience
As the home of Formula One and British motorsport, Silverstone is definitely a special place. It is one of the most famous circuits in the world and hosted the finale of the 2011 BTCC season: one of the most exciting, and to some, the most controversial season in recent years.
I camped at Whittlebury campsite which is about 20 minutes walk from the old pit straight. It offers the very basics: toilets, showers and a drinking water tap. Most of the site is on a hill so finding a flat area to camp can prove tricky. Be sure to take lots of warm clothes as it was far colder than I was expecting, finding ice on the outside of the tent on Saturday morning was very surprising! But it isn’t just cold at night, the circuit is very exposed and flat so even a small wind is felt everywhere. The site is open most of the year for all the major events that Silverstone host. I would advise not using a satnav to get to the campsite though as ours sent us to the main circuit entrance. The instructions provided by Google Maps were spot on though.
If you do camp and walk to the circuit to watch practice on Friday then you will have to walk around to the main entrance of the circuit which is close to the old chicane at Abbey. On Saturday and Sunday there were several gates open around the National circuit.
Friday was spent watching from the grandstand overlooking Wellington straight, Brooklands and Luffield corners. It was close to the track, although the large screen wasn’t at a suitable viewing angle – definitely worth watching from though.
On Saturday I viewed action from the exit of Luffield, Woodcote, the pit straight and Copse. However not all grandstands were open on Saturday, so camping chairs may be required depending where you most want to watch from. In front of the Luffield and Copse grandstands are concrete steps suitable for fold up chairs.
On Sunday I stayed at the Woodcote B grandstand all day. From here I could see the large screen showing the action broadcast by ITV4, the screen in the centre of the track displaying the drivers positions in each race, the braking zone at the end of the Wellington straight, Brooklands, Luffield, Woodcote and the start/finish straight. This proved to be a good decision as most of the action seemed to happen within view from here.
As with all other rounds of the BTCC there was a pitwalk. This occurred at lunch time when there was also a display by the RAF Red Devils parachuting team who landed on the pit straight.
To get into the inside of the circuit there is a tunnel under the track at Copse corner and a bridge going over the old grandprix circuit close to the main circuit entrance. From here you need to take the bridge over the Wellington straight.
After the final race of the day, the podium – which was mounted on a truck – was driven around and stopped on the track in front of the Woodcote grandstand for both the race and championship presentations. The track was also opened up to the fans so they could get close to the celebrations. The podium was situated in the paddock behind the pitlane for the other races where it was also viewable by the general public.
For photographers, unless you have a media pass, the only way of getting photos of the action on track is to shoot from the grandstands as there are high catch fences all around the circuit.
Cons? The cold, lack of low fences for photographers, and expensive catering.
Pros? Plenty of action, easy to get in and out of the circuit, lots of places and free grandstand entry to view from.