Silverstone forced to tell 30,000 spectators to stay away

Soaked car parks leads to many ticket-holders being asked not to come as rain brings chaos

Silverstone

Mark Webber arrived for work on the back of a scooter dressed in his overalls ready to go, as you do when the helicopter is stood down. Red Bull sought the quickest solution, sending out the two-wheeler to bring in their boy before the bell went for first practice. For the punters there was no contingency to escape the carnage brought about when low cloud dumps a month's rainfall in a day.

"A country fair masquerading as a world-class event" was how Formula One commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone described the British Grand Prix one wet April 12 years ago: traffic jams clogging the main arteries around Silverstone, cars anchored in fields of mud, tractors mobilised to dig them out. A great deal of money has been spent since to bring the old airfield into the modern F1 age, not least on the new road network feeding into the circuit that was intended to prevent the return of Groundhog Day.

But the planners reckoned without the enthusiasm of the humble camper, in whom the spirit of this event is surely contained, and at whom the finger was pointed when the A43 reverted once more to a car park along the five-mile strip from Towcester to the circuit. The combined efforts of Silverstone, the Northants and Thames Valley police, the fire and ambulance services and the car-park operators proved unequal to Formula One man and his camper van.

"The campers are turning up at their campsites, whether it's the Silverstone campsite or other campsites in the area, and being turned away because of the ground," a Silverstone spokeswoman said. "The farmers who own the private campsites and our own official one – Silverstone Woodlands – are saying, 'We can't take any more, we're going to relocate you'. Local radio and Silverstone radio are putting that message out, to say, 'If you haven't booked, don't turn up'.

"We have literally got to the stage where we are now towing in camper vans one at a time. That is such a slow intake that it is slowing everything on the Dadford Road. We had something like 35mm of rain in 40 minutes on Wednesday night. That threw everything out. Richard Phillips [Silverstone managing director] said yesterday that we would be OK if we didn't get any more rain and then we got this today."

How different the picture looked on Thursday when the mercury hit 23 Celsius and the fields around Silverstone basked in dappled sunshine. A scene of bucolic splendour unfolded around barbecues and beers as the F1 flock gathered optimistically for the annual pilgrimage to the home of grand prix racing. The rain that would fall on campers for much of the night was a piffling inconvenience compared to the chaos that would hinder yesterday's migration.

A crowd of 80,000, a record for the opening day of the grand prix and a number that many would love to have on race day, was expected. By early afternoon, when it became clear there was no chance of seeing a car run, many gave up. With more rain forecast, there is no guarantee of an improvement today. The organisers are prepared for the worst.

"There will be a problem," the spokeswoman said. "If we get more rain we have to be honest about it, it will be slow. We've loaded all the hardstanding car parks today but we have used some of the other car parks that aren't hardstanding that may well be in a bad state tomorrow. So again we are looking at all sorts of alternatives for tomorrow."

News
Jennifer Lawrence was among the stars allegedly hacked
peopleActress and 100 others on 'master list' after massive hack
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor