It was a miserable British Grand Prix for the home contingent and even Bernie Ecclestone, head of Formula One's commercial affairs, got caught up in the frustration of Silverstone and the capricious weather yesterday.
Just before David Coulthard and the rest endured the anguish of the rainswept race – won by Michael Schumacher from his Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello – Ecclestone was angry as he endeavoured to find his way from one of the circuits outposts to the sanctuary of the paddock.
His helicopter had been delayed by the low cloud cover over this corner of Northamptonshire, and eventually deposited him in unfamiliar territory. By the time his car had negotiated the remaining part of the journey he was ready to fire a few more salvos at Silverstone's guardians.
"It's a shambles,'' he said. "There are people out there wandering about who don't know where they are supposed to be going. There aren't enough signs, and they are not clear enough.''
Ecclestone and Max Moseley, the president of the sport's ruling body the FIA, condemned the facilities and organisation at Silverstone after the traffic chaos of the British Grand Prix two years ago.
Silverstone responded with short and long-term plans to improve access and facilities. A new approach road, built at a cost of £10.6m, was opened for this race – Ecclestone contributed to the funding. He gave no suggestion that the future of the race was again in question. But Octagon, the promoters, were shaken by Ecclestone's latest outburst.
Rob Bain, the head of Octagon, said: "We've had a handful of complaints from a crowd of 65,000, and we have one man who creates controversy where there isn't any. He's cheesed-off because his helicopter was delayed. We've spent £17m on improvements and we are going to spend a further £28m. We are doing everything as quickly as possible. We are doing a survey of spectators and will have to see what the exit times and findings are, but we are confident this has been the best-organised British Grand Prix.
Bain was supported by Ross Brawn, technical director at Ferrari, said: "I drove in this morning and arrived 45 minutes earlier than I needed. They've made fantastic progress.''
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