The first day of the British Grand Prix weekend brought the wash out that had been feared yesterday.
And on Friday night Silverstone bosses were forced to call for fans not to travel to the track on Saturday, to give them a chance to prepare the car parks for Sunday. It’s been a very tough and embarrassing weekend for Silverstone.
Although standing water on track was blamed for the lack of running, many drivers also said that tyre allocations, whereby FIA Sporting Regulations allow for only three sets of wet tyres per car, meant that teams were reluctant to cover much mileage. All restricted themselves to using just one set of wets and doing very limited laps through the day.
The rules allow drivers to get an extra set of intermediate tyres on Friday if it is wet, but this was academic as it wasn’t an intermediate condition today.
There were calls from teams for FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting to allow a change whereby teams could have an extra set of wets instead of intermediates. Pirelli’s motor sport boss Paul Hembery said that tyres were available at the company’s logistics base in Didcot and could be brought across quickly, but it needed a directive from the FIA. These would be the Hockenheim wets, so teams would have to agree to having fewer wet tyres there.
Whether it is considered to still be worth exploring for the remainder of this weekend, time will tell. But it led to massive frustration for fans, who had endured horrendous weather conditions and severe traffic delays getting into the circuit, only to be treated to a handful of laps.
“As a team we feel guilty that we weren’t out there running. even if we’d had the tyres we wouldn’t have been out there because the risk to reward makes it not worth it,” said Force India’s Bob Fearnley. “What happened about them getting into the circuit, I’m not aware of and I sympathise with them. I regret today we couldn’t put the cars out there as we weren’t going to learn anything.
“I think it’s a shame how little running they (fans) have seen but that’s the British weather for you.,” said Lotus F1’s James Allison
Silverstone were on alert for car park problems, due to the rain, but poor car park signeage led to confusion and there were massive delays in getting cars onto hard standing. It meant that many people were stuck for up to 6 hours in traffic jams outside the circuit, many still stuck long after the session had ended.
Silverstone organisers blamed campers who had turned up without booking and when turned away, were sent back into the traffic causing tail backs. But the traffic was already severely backed up from 7-30am.
Fans were braced for more problems on Saturday and Sunday as the grass car parks are sodden and more fans will be arriving for qualifying and the race. That said, the police will be overseeing traffic at those times.
Heavy rain fell throughout the day, with the early part of the second session sufficiently bad for teams not to be able to run at all. For a long time the cars were in the pit lane while Bruno Senna crashed soon after the teams ventured out again with 30 minutes of the session remaining.
Many teams had upgrades to their cars, but the weather meant that they could not measure their worth; Ferrari’s technical director Pat Fry said, “In these conditions it’s impossible to do any sensible evaluation.”