Wednesday, 21 July 2010

2010 British GP at Silverstone

My husband and I decided after the 2009 British GP that we would treat ourselves to 3-day tickets next year, if the GP was at Silverstone. Of course, at this point, the British GP was due to be held at Donington Park, but the whole situation was a bit flaky to say the least!

But, in December, the news finally came through that the GP was saved and would be at Silverstone. Tickets went on sale immediately, and we made good on our promise to each other and bought 3-day tickets. We treated ourselves to Club Silverstone tickets because we liked the idea of having a reserved seat for all 3 days.

We were up early on Friday morning, raring to get to the circuit to have a look round and watch some free practice. First impressions: 1) lots of dust (my feet were a red/brown colour by the end of the day), 2) so many McLaren merchandise stalls.

We were delighted to find that we not only got a free programme and cap with our Club Silverstone tickets but also had our own private hospitality area, complete with posh loos, big screen, an array of food outlets, and cheap(er) bar. We settled down in the sunshine with our drinks and programmes to catch some big screen action.

When F1 free practice 1 was imminent we headed up to the grandstand to find our seats. What a shock to be in such cold windy conditions! Note for next year, take a jumper and wear trousers. We were so thrilled when the cars came out and started to buzz around the circuit. The noise was immense. We had a fabulous view, from Maggotts, though Becketts, Chapel, then down the Hangar Straight to Stowe, before catching the cars again as they entered the new Village section, losing sight of them down the Wellington Straight.
As FP1 neared its conclusion, we set off towards Copse, because we had arranged to meet some Twitter followers. At this point we realised how quiet the cars sound in the grandstand (as we hastily found our earplugs!). It's amazing to be on a level with an F1 car as it whizzes past, you can't describe it fully, the buzz you get in your chest, the suffocating noise that blocks out anything else for minutes afterwards. And the crowds of people, for a Friday, apparently 85 000 people were at the circuit for practice!

We arrived at Bridge Shop, and after several hasty tweets, we met @f1_girl, followed by @Dan_McLaren_Fan, @f1_photos, @timlumley, @sarahanngreen, @paulgray07, and @vickylygoef1. 

Later on in the day, as we were heading back to the campsite (the long way round, via Luffield), and despite a lack of charge in my phone, I was really pleased to receive a message from @jamieswb, and we finally managed to meet up at the Copse tunnel.

Saturday was absolutely BAKING. For some stupid reason, we decided to walk the long way to our seats (again!), past Abbey and Luffield, so we could see the whole circuit (again!). Man, my poor feet! We sat in Pits Straight for a bit to see the circuit from a different perspective (as @SRT40 had recommended to me on Twitter). From here we watched GP3 qualifying, and I took some photos of the pit garages and motorhomes in the paddock, which are immense! 
Before F1 qualifying, we were fortunate to meet two lovely blokes (grandson and grandfather) from New Zealand. We got chatting about motorsport and cricket, and found out the young lad raced V8s and Hondas in New Zealand, and his granddad was off to watch The Open at St Andrews the week after (some would say, lucky guy!). Back in the grandstands, we were disappointed to see Jenson Button qualify 14th, but since he'd gone out in Q2, we headed back to the hospitality area to retain our seats in the shade and continue our chat over cold beers, while watching Q3 on the big screen. Much was made of drinking a jug of Pimms on Sunday, but sadly we never met up again. 

On the way back to the campsite, I insisted on buying some merchandise to wear for Sunday (defences broken by subliminal McLaren messages), and chose a Rocket Red ladies McLaren top, which turned out to be a Lewis top! Yikes, what a mistake. Oh well, it looks GREAT on me ;)


Sunday dawned cold and drizzly, perfect weather for deconstructing a tent and related junk. We packed all our gear up and drove to the carpark at Club to save us walking too far at the end of the GP. We enjoyed the GP2 race from the grandstands, but the weather was making us cold :( so we walked to the E-Zone at Copse to warm up and peruse the merchandise stands. After watching too many crazy people jump off a cage dangling from a crane, we headed back to our seats for the drivers parade. Wow, the whole place just went crazy when the drivers came past, what an amazing experience. 
Before the GP, the Red Arrows display team performed overhead, almost directly over us it felt like (probably the same for everyone!). I caught some of the display on video.
YouTube clip


The build up to the GP was indescribable. So exciting, the crowd were buzzing with anticipation. As the cars filed past on the formation lap, everyone jumped up to cheer Lewis and Jenson (massive McLaren following), I was cheering for Karun Chandhok too, and Mark Webber because secretly I quite fancy him, but really, because of the Red Bull front wing controversy. Before I forget, here's my favourite picture of the weekend, of Karun in his HRT.
As the race got underway, we waiting with bated breath for the cars to swing round Maggotts into view. What a fabulous sight, Seb Vettel flying off track onto the runoff area directly in front of us, Lewis Hamilton passing him into 2nd, and Jenson Button in EIGHTH! What?! So excited! A huge cheer went up and continued for minutes as the cars came past us again on the Village loop. Poor Vettel hobbling past. He did get a lot of jeers from the McLaren fans (and others), but I'm sure they helped him make up the places later. 

We were shouting at our neighbours who had a radio, and they were shouting at us because my husband had his F1 app on his phone, to find out what was happening. So mentally intense to keep track of positions and pit stops; we couldn't quite see the big screen from our seats. And so soon it seemed, my neighbour held up her hand to say four laps left, then everyone was clapping and it was all over. And I suddenly felt so emotional to see all the drivers come past our stand so slowly, waving (and Lewis, who came off the track and drove right past us). I was so pleased Webber won, and delighted with the McLaren 2-4 finish.


We headed straight off to our car, stopping at another subliminal messaging stand to buy Jenson caps for our kids. Must buy McLaren things. And an hour later, guess what, we were HOME! Wow.

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