Silverstone urges fans to avoid car parks on Saturday

2012 British Grand Prix

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Silverstone is taking the unprecedented step of asking some fans not to attend Saturday’s action at the track.

The circuit issued the following statement on their official Twitter account:

“We are dissuading fans from coming to the event tomorrow if you have a public car pass, those with [park and ride and] are camping will be fine.

“We will be refunding people with unused Friday and Saturday tickets the details of how to do this will be communicated to you early next week.”

Thousands of fans were left unable to get in after serious traffic problems at the circuit day following today’s heavy rain.

If you attended today’s session please share your experience of the traffic problems in the comments or in the Going to the British Grand Prix forum.

Update: Silverstone reiterated their warning in a statement sent by email:

“Silverstone are strongly advising fans with public car park passes for Saturday, not to come to Silverstone tomorrow (07 July).

“Unless spectators have pre-booked Park and Ride, have a hospitality ticket that includes parking in the centre of the circuit, or are already in local campsites and able to walk to the circuit, Silverstone strongly advises that you do not attend the qualifying day of the 2012 Formula 1 Santander British Grand Prix.

“Silverstone has had to take this action due to the fact that 50% of the public car parks have been lost, due to the severe weather conditions over the last weeks and, in particularly, the last 36 hours. Silverstone is doing everything possible to protect and preserve as many of the car parks ahead of Sunday.

“Fans will be refunded for any unused Friday or Saturday tickets. Full details on how this will be handled will be communicated early next week.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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66 comments on “Silverstone urges fans to avoid car parks on Saturday”

  1. I will accept that the rain this week has been (almost) unprecedented, but surely there should be more of a contingency plan such as a “reserve” of P&R places which could then be used by the aforementioned car parking ticket holders?

    1. @james_mc – There is a reason why the rainfall across the midlands had been described as “unprecedented”. It’s because it’s without precedent. It’s all well and good for you to sit there with the benefit of hindsight and criticise the circuit for not having a contingency plan in place, but a week ago, nobody could have anticipated this once-in-a-generation event.

      1. Britain? Rain? I know right, unexpected as disappointment on the public transport system.

        :D I jest.

        James has a point though, however I expect Silverstone Authorities to learn from it.

        1. They’ll no doubt make some changes for next year to prevent it from happening again – but there will still be the possibility of an unexpected weather event that renders even those facilities inadequate.

          1. I thought they said they would prevent the fiasco happening again back in 2000, but I must have misheard.
            But back then they blamed the GP being held in April when it often rains, I’m guessing they did not find out on Thursday that it might be a wet weekend!

      2. Plenty of precedent. I was working there and stranded in 2000. Less than a generation ago. They haven’t learnt. Drainage is not some sort of incredibly modern technique that was discovered last year. Obviously it’s expensive to do it properly. Cheaper to refund punters.

      3. A GP meet is by far and away Silverstone’s biggest attendance of the year, I suspect the parking facilities provide by Silverstone have been designed to accommodate the significant increase in numbers over the weekend. While planning for this “worst-case” event of 80-100k visitors, contingency should have been made, should the carparks be flooded and this is something which only happened 12 years ago which occurred before the most recent raft of upgrades.

        Someone said that apparently it is difficult to build more carparks (i.e. tar over fields) due to historical land in that area, however that isn’t a great argument as by covering pervious green surfaces with impervious tar, it simply creates flash flooding events elsewhere which are even more costly to deal with.

        Perhaps the idea of park-and-ride 5/10 miles away from the circuit and increased shuttle buses, less traffic on the surrounding roads too is something which should be considered a bit more.

        1. I should also add that due to climate change it is very difficult to quantify what is actually a “once in a generation” event. A lot of flood alleviation schemes that suited the UK in the 1970’s are now not adequate due to the increasing frequency of “infrequent” storm events.

        2. There are ways to prepare green car parks with hay and other cheap methods, as seen regularly for major events in the UK, concerts, Goodwood, etc…
          Last month’s Red Hot Chili Peppers at Knebworth was similar in weather and ZERO field parking issues, as it was properly managed with competent organisers.

  2. invisiblekid
    6th July 2012, 20:04

    After all the money that’s been spent, the car parks still appear to be Silverstones achilles heal.

    Just hope it’s not going to be too wet and we get a safety car race.

    1. Button has said he’s not sure what would happen if we see conditions like that on Sunday (the conditions for GP2 practice and the first part of FP2 were pretty much undriveable). I guess we just have to hope for the best.

  3. Silverstone should hang there heads in shame today. 5 hours to move a mile, the main campsite closing and putting no information on there website or there facebook page. I know they cant control the weather but they can control information and the lack of it today was a disgrace

    1. invisiblekid
      6th July 2012, 20:12

      I think the lack of info was actually due to them hanging their heads in a “oh no, not again” moment.

      As mentioned, I know the weather has been atrocious, but it’s not unthinkable to have a wet(very) Silverstone. I’m no expert, and have not been to Silverstone, but surely this had to be tackled better with all the money spent in recent times. It’s usually Bernies main complaint.

      1. Indeed. Even at this point it seems like they ought to be able to truck in wood chips or something that can help solidify the mud in the car parks, work overnight spreading it in the soft/muddy areas, and have things ready for tomorrow. I can’t imagine things are gonna be any better on Sunday, when presumably even more people will be trying to get to the circuit. They’ve known for days now that this would very likely be a soaked weekend, so I don’t really feel bad for the organizers. It seems to me they’re solely responsible for this mess. Sitting around and hoping for better weather and drier parking areas is not a very proactive approach.

        1. The official line is that they’re not using the car parks tomorrow so they’re usable on Sunday, which seems reasonable given that tomorrow doesn’t look as bad as today was (i.e. it’ll be wet, but not AS wet). I like to think they’ve considered all other options and this is a last resort, and if it means everyone can see the race then that can only be a good thing.

        2. Trucks are heavy. They sink in the mud faster and more readily than cars. Trucking in anything to a bog hole is impossible.

      2. ” It’s usually Bernies main complaint” Bernie really doesn’t care about the car-park ( the Heliport, yes) ticket sales are the organisers source of income, Bernie gets his upfront and from TV and advertising so Bernie is concerned about the prestige facilities not carparks for Joe Public.

  4. Wow :/ Not good news. I guess they’ve got to be seen to be sensible as far as the authorities go, but I know I wouldn’t be heeding their advice if I was going :D

  5. people have been told not to go tomorrow, yet there is no info about refunds if you don’t turn up. People just want to know whats going on

    1. @trigger It says in the quote they will refund people who don’t use the tickets.

    2. Well, the article laid out pretty well what’s going on.

  6. I’ve always wanted to go to the British Grand Prix, but it seems you have to come prepared with a scooter or a mountainbike to be able to reach the circuit…

  7. At least they are allowing for refunds!

  8. Mike the bike Schumacher (@mike-the-bike-schumacher)
    6th July 2012, 21:01

    Do u know it does rain in England from time to time. They should be better prepared. The real warning they should be giving is not to travel on Megabus :P

    1. I’m a little fed up with all these comments directed at Silverstone. Yes its been a terrible day for many people and I feel sorry for them. But, how do you think they could better prepare?

      I dont know all the detail, and thankfully I’m not there this year, BUT – we have had an awful lot of rain over the last few weeks, and in the last few days its been particularly heavy.

      A majority of the car parking is grassland. What do you want Silverstone to do? The only solution would be to tarmac all the surrounding fields – and lets face it, thats no solution.

      It sucks but its the card mother nature’s played. Its not the only event to suffer this year, IoW festival is the first that springs to mind!

      Silverstone themselves can only do so much.

      1. I think Silverstone should limit onsite car parking to tarmaced areas, everyone else parks and rides.

        1. Can you imagine the outrage? O.o

        2. I think Silverstone should limit onsite car parking to tarmaced areas, everyone else parks and rides.

          where do you think they should park to ride?
          for 1 week end a year you propose to concrete / tarmac how much countryside
          and when the water runs off this impervious layer and causes flooding elsewhere what is your reply
          Silverstone village suffers from flooding from time to time this suggestion would make matters worse for the other 362 days of the year

      2. Mike the bike Schumacher (@mike-the-bike-schumacher)
        7th July 2012, 1:31

        Well to be fair i have only just read that they cant tarmac some of the fields. But they did upgrade the circuit and put in the new wing. i’m from ireland, living in enland atm and tbh it rains more than it doesnt in this part of the world. So instead of investing in the wing etc. why didnt they make some flood proof car parks. its not like the unexpected snow at winter, this is rain! i know theres been more of it recently, but if there should ever be an extra precation for something here, it should be rain.

        1. In hindsight, the world can always be perfect.

          If you remember, Silverstone were to loose the GP after 2009 or 2010 (don’t remember) to Donnington Park since it wasn’t upto the F1 standards. Since then, the BRDC had to do a complete makeover of the circuit and that included the new media and hospitality center, Silverstone Wing.

          It is not unexpected rain but the amount of rainfall was definitely unexpected and seldom and as explained previously, Silverstone cannot tarmac the car parks arounds since they are fields and they cannot tarmac it so there hands are tied.

          I think we must appreciate the organizer’s efforts.

          1. I really appreciate Silverstone doing sweet FA to improve spectator facilities!

  9. how would they refund the ‘qualy’ portion of a 3 day pass?

    1. I think they assume (rightly or wrongly) that those with a 3 day pass will be staying in the campsite or a local hotel, and are able to walk to the circuit.

      1. Well, we live about an hour from Silverstone with a three day pass so will be travelling to and from tomorrow and Sunday!

  10. It’s all a big mess, and I did expect better. While we should give them some leeway, the sheer amount of rain which has fallen is incredible, I would have assumed some kind of contingency plan because, after all, this is Britain and we’ve had scenes like this in the past (i.e. 2000).

    It reminds me of the sludge at Knockhill for a British Superbike event in 2010 where half the races were cancelled due to the rain and wind after a few days of rain and wind. I do, however, remember the car being parked on a grassy hill, and that we were able to drive away without needing a tractor at the end of the day. Makes you wonder what went wrong at Silverstone’s car parks, doesn’t it.

  11. We didn’t find it too bad today. Got in early, just after 8am and there wasn’t any queuing. Sat in the grandstand opposite the pit garages at 8.30 and it was full already! We went back to the car after the GP2 qualifying had finished and all the internal roads were just standstill, various cars just left there. In the end we exited via the rear way from the field, via the wooded bit and got out within 30 mins to the dual carriage way. Not sure why others weren’t directed that way.

  12. sid_prasher (@)
    6th July 2012, 21:54

    What is the forecast for Sunday? with the fixed hrs for race, is there a possibility that we ll not have a full race on Sunday? from what i read today, there was a lot of aquaplaning…

  13. We pulled off the M1 at 8.40am and then sat in a queue waiting to park until nearly 11.45am – missed the entire FP1. At least we got into the International Pits stand in time to see the chaos of the final corner in GP2 free practice! Still it sounds like some people had it a lot worse.

    When we left the circuit, it took roughly one hour to get from the car park to the A43. As we exited the circuit we could see that a lot of people had simply abandoned their cars on the roadside on the way in. There also still seemed to be a queue on the side of the A43 heading into the circuit…

    I’m planning to get to Northampton Park & Ride for 7am tomorrow – hope that’s early enough!

    1. @bpacman your morning sounds almost identical to mine. I got onto the A43 at around 9:00am and parked my car at 12:30. I could only attend today, and I missed all of FP1 and the first GP2 session.
      Yes the rain has been very heavy, but this is the British Grand Prix, there should be plans A-to-E to cope with this kind of thing. But my experience of today was chaos made to look like some kind of ‘plan’, which completely relied on people queing for hours on end without making a fuss.
      Finally, the decision to advise people not to come tomorrow is shocking to say the least. The people who will have paid a premium for on site parking will be groups of friends, families, and those unable to walk long distances to the circuit. A refund doesn’t even come close to recovering the experience these people are likely to lose, all because of poor drainage we’ve all known about for over 10 years, and a bad spell of weather the entire country has been expecting for the last week.

      Heads should roll.

      1. I think… you have to expect it though, it’s an international event. Surely you could have predicted the traffic would be bad due to the rain.

        I mean, yes, it’s not a great situation for the track authorities. But you can’t blame them if you only gave yourself (I’m guessing) what, maybe, and hours traveling time.

        1. @Mike From what I saw and heard though, I think the parking problems became exponentially worse as soon as more than a handful of people began arriving after 07:30-08:00. As soon as people arrived consistently all the ‘planning’ completely went to pot.
          The soundbites we’ve heard from Silverstone MD have been appalling as well. I couldn’t care less if he wanted to cry!! What he should be doing in such a senior position is assessing the situation, and finding alternatives however long winded, to turning people away from the Saturday sessions, which in my opinion is a totally unacceptable option.

  14. Helen@f1brum
    6th July 2012, 22:05

    Gutted about tomorrow! We were due to collect our tickets before going in – anyone think this would cause a prob with the refund?

  15. I will be getting the train to Northampton station and was planning on getting the F1 Service from there. Does anyone know if this will be ok?

  16. I’m finding this entire concept ridiculous, and my friend and I WILL be driving there tomorrow morning as planned. I didn’t fly here from the US for nothing!

  17. Good luck for all of you who have tickets and were planning to drive to the circuit by car. I know I would try… The mess tomorrow…

  18. Lucky there are civic leaders from the Austin area there this weekend. I hope they return to Texas motivated to improve the COTA road access ASAP.

    1. I really don’t think they’ll be expecting rain.

  19. How about hospitality parking at Club Silverstone? That’s not public parking but it’s not in the center of the circuit either. We only had little trouble this morning as we only missed GP3 first practice and parking was fairly easy. We got stuck on the A43 but once we got to the exit directing to Club Silverstone hospitality we got there very quickly. Getting out was fairly easy as well. It took us 45 minutes for what is usually a 35 minute trip.

    1. I’m wondering the same, does the east hospitality come under “public car park passes”?

      1. F1fanNL (@)
        7th July 2012, 7:46

        I got another update via email.

        Following on from last night’s advice, please see our information and advice below for Saturday 07 July at Silverstone:

        People with general admission/roving or grandstand tickets who do not have park and ride and were planning to arrive by car should not attempt to approach the circuit as they will turned away and could be stuck in heavy traffic for many hours.
        People with general admission/roving or grandstand tickets arriving by foot (campers & people staying in the locality) with pre booked tickets should arrives as normal.
        Campers must leave cars at the campsites and not bring them to the circuit as they will be turned away.
        People with pre booked Park and Ride passes and tickets should follow directions as sent out and follow instructions from stewards. Please be patient we are working hard to get you in.
        Unfortunately no public parking at the circuit can be permitted due to the inclement weather experienced and the impact this has had on the car parks – this means that the majority are completely unusable.
        Hospitality guests should follow instructions as normal, and again be patient with stewards.
        Fans will be refunded for any unused Friday or Saturday tickets and full details on how this will be handled will be communicated early next week.

        Looks like there shouldn’t be much of a problem for east hospitality. We’re going in 15 minutes so I’ll update when I arrive (or not).

  20. Come on folks, get over it. Some delays, parking problems, some missed events. Pain the ass but that’s all really, no one’s been harmed. You’ve missed a bit of very little F1 action.

    You can hardly blame the organisers on this one with unprecedented rainfall all over the country this is pretty much freak weather.

    Maybe they could have surfaced many square miles of fields to be more suitable car parks. Maybe they can’t because some of those fields belong to someone else. The F1 circus is once a year, probably the single biggest event at Silverstone all year (?) Maybe it has encroached on its surroundings enough already?

    I’d rather they spent the money on ensuring a world class motor sports facility – which it will be most of the time. As opposed to having inconvenient muddy fields every decade or so…

    1. It will never be a world class motor sports facility if people are unable to attend. My brother sat in his car for over 10 hours today and saw nothing. The marshals and police near the car parks were useless and knew nothing about what was going on. There were few (if any) messages played on Silverstone FM about what was going on.

      Also, Silverstone is in the United Kingdom. The weather I saw today was most definitely not “unprecedented” for this country – I’d say it is a relatively common occurrence.

      If Silverstone do not have enough parking spaces they should not sell as many parking passes and they should not sell as many race tickets. If that means they can’t afford to host the race then so be it – they don’t deserve to.

      1. It’s just a missed event, seriously, big deal.

        Meanwhile there are people losing their homes.

        1. I think the issue here is – People with what little money they have; have struggled to save up and then spent what is a ridiculous amount of money for a ticket only to be subjected to this!

          Yes refunds are going to be issued, but if they can’t organise an RACEt what chance is there of seeing a refunnd before Christmas!

      2. “common occurrence” – really? How long have you lived in the UK?

        “Torrential rain is causing disruption as a month’s rain falls in parts of the UK within one day” –

      3. @fishfingers If it’s of any use I’ve been told on Twitter that circuit parking passes are being accepted on the park and ride:

  21. Just got back home after 6 hours of trying to get in not going to bother tomorrow will just get refund might try on Sunday but let a sour taste as meant to be camping at woodlands too

  22. Messy but isn’t the first time it’s happened. I’m guessing this was pushed by Health and Safety with the threat they’d call off the race.

  23. Conditions are actually set to get worse or just as bad as today on Sunday. So lets hope nothing dangerous happens.

  24. So people who paid £55 for circuit parking are being told to stay away, but those who paid £10 for park and ride are being allowed to park their car?

  25. If you’re heading to Silverstone do have a look at the forum where there’s a lot of activity at the moment with people sharing advice and making contingency arrangements:

    Going to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone

  26. On Sunday, if you’re arriving by car, but the car isn’t parking, just dropping off, does it still need a pass? Also, is that going to cause complications? I think the weather is supposed to be okay, so this is more of a general question in terms of is this an okay thing to do, or is a pass needed? Thanks guys.

    P.S, any heads up on what I should bring, as you can probably tell, it’s my first time.

  27. Maybe if the fans all had Pirelli wet weather tires they would be able to get there on Saturday. Think of the massive piles of clagg along the sides of the roadways….Poor Paul Hembry maybe your road tires are better than your race tires….somehow I doubt it….

  28. Yet again the British Fans get the raw end of the deal, Siverstone spent all that money on upgrading the circuit, oh hang on that was for all the VIP’s and for the all posh nobs hospitality and new pit building even after 12 years the fans (the paying people are still subjected to this!). Seems like they didnt learn from 2000.
    Have Silverstone ever heard of plastic matting that can be put down on grass that is suitable for cars to go acrosss or wood chips, oh wait that costs money and its quite clear they dont want to spend it on the fans facilities!

  29. Updated Press Release From Silverstone

    Please dont turn up today If you have a Car – We advise that you apply for a refund and go to a grand prix abroad – they are far better organised.

  30. Paul campbell
    7th July 2012, 8:53

    There is a happy medium here but the organisers have not been prepared for this type of weather.
    It is possible to make semi hard standing surfaces that still allows the water to drain through a permeable surface whilst not allowing the grass to churn to mud. It’s called grasscrete. This would have stopped any of this happening.
    It wouldn’t solve the traffic problems around the circuit though… Let’s face it, again the British public get the wrong end of the stick… Expensive prices for poor facilities.

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