Ticket sales for this year’s British Grand Prix are down on this time last year, according to the circuit’s managing director Richard Phillips.
There are a number of factors to blame for the slow take up of tickets this year, including lack of British winners in 2013 as well as bad memories and bad publicity hanging over from last year’s event, where torrential rain led to chaos; many fans were asked not to attend on Saturday in order that the operators could repair the circuit’s car parks for race day. Around 400 public events were cancelled in the UK that weekend, but Silverstone had to go ahead and this was felt to be the only way to achieve it,
“In retrospect that was the right call,” said Phillips, “What happened last year was unprecedented, but it was also a wake up call.”
A crowd of almost 300,000 attended the three days of the Grand Prix last year, but the “stay away” notice was an embarrassment for the circuit and for the sport. The untold story was the total figure of £1 million which had to be paid back to the 10,000 fans who claimed their money for the unused Saturday tickets, although due to insurance covering the loss, the event still made a profit for the circuit – one of the few F1 venues to do so.
In response, this year Silverstone has invested “hundreds of thousands” of pounds in infrastructure and drainage updates to ensure that there is never a repeat of 2012. Some of the materials have come from the Olympics, such as the matting to lay over grass car parks.
Additional campsite space has been allocated for this year and a new transport plan is in the works which will see Silverstone working with train companies and bus operators to bring more people in by rail with a bus transfer from Milton Keynes.
In the last six years, having secrured the rights to the British Grand Prix for the long-term, Silverstone’s owner the BRDC has invested £42 million in upgrading the circuit, developing the new pits complex and other features, as it strives to make it a centre of excellence for motorsport.
In September a new school will open, close to Copse Corner, for 14-18 year olds with an emphasis on performance engineering and event management alongside traditional subjects.
The British Grand Prix is round eight of this year’s championship and takes place on the weekend of June 29/30, leaving less than two months for the tickets to sell out. Silverstone’s revenues are entirely based on ticket sales as the other commercial revenue streams are all taken by F1’s Commercial Rights holder.
Philipps and his team along with BRDC president Derek Warwick are hoping that fans get behind their national event; 70% of the 300,000 who attend Silverstone each year are UK residents.
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