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Frustration all round for teams, drivers and fans at washed out Silverstone
Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Jul 2012   |  4:40 pm GMT  |  91 comments

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.”

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I was in the hell that is Silverstone in 2000 when they held the race in April. Ever since I have gone to overseas races, properly organised. I gave silverstone another chance last year for the Motogp, predictably it rained and it was hell again. It is a country fair masquerading as a world event, to quote Bernie Ecclestone.


Wow! the crowd and jams sure feels like ‘Woodstock’.

The passion shown by the British fans can never be matched anywhere. Love the way they cheered and kept themselves happy even with so little running from the teams. RESPECT!


Autosport reported that Paul Hembrey said Pirelli had to strip and scrap 200 slick tyres that were unused. Does that mean the tyres have a shelf life for one GP only? That’s quite an expense.


Still, the good news is the all the Corporate troughers will all be able to keep their loafers and laboutins dry in the nice new centre while mixing with other ‘important’ people, not actually watching most of the racing. Their car park is also open.

part time viewer

Its embarasing, one of our biggest sporting events and shown all over the world, we cant even get people into a venue all because of rain, we are one of the wettest countries in the world, should we not be used to it.

the entire world must be laughing at the “home of motorsport”

Just think, the olympics are just around the corner gulp


‘We are one of the wettest countries in the world’.

Oh, really?

That shouldn’t be too difficult to look up on the net, now should it?


Olympics in London will be all about public transport – there isn’t any here at Silverstone


I am guessing some of the “public transport” for the Olympics will in fact be for profit private companies who may have jumped at the opportunity to make a few more pounds profit during a short windfall shake-down installation run…


I have to agree re transport. I was looking to attend MotoGP early in the month by public transport. Let me say getting to the circuit (from London)takes a couple of hours and two modes of transport. That is ok. Motor sport facilities have to be, by their nature, some distance from developed areas (or suffer the pressure of close down as developments come closer and people protest the noise). The weather is not good – take appropriate gear (even if the weather changes for the better and you have to carry it)

On another topic I note the attempts on the forum at understanding the rules on tyres etc from official information supplied by spokes persons.

I love motor sport and have been a follower as a high schoolboy in the sixties and competitor later(held a national open competitiion licence). As a young man totally immersed in the sport I believed most things said by elder officials and circuit management. In later life and after much tertiary study, I became a senior executive (not in motorsport) and had a media group advising me what to say to the press on areas of their interest. I learned the skill of the media person. It was hard for me as I like a straight answer to a straight question. Companies and government do not like this if some of the news will not be universally liked.

I no longer work in those areas but what I took away is that there is a skill in separating the facts from the “diversionary padding” or spin. There is often more spin in media that from the F1 tyres as cars leave the grid!

Don’t be too hung up on trying to get an exact picture on everything – enjoy the sport of F1. It has, and will continue to have a positive impact in many areas of society because of its applied research and the intellectual capacity it attracts.

Also a site like James Allen on Fi is a very good filtering mechanism to get close the ember that emitts the media smoke. Look close to the ember for the information, do not be distracted by the smoke.

The best motorsport event I have attended in some time (maybe because of my total immersion/ involvement in earlier years (60’s, 70’s and 80’s)- the 2012 Goodwood Festival of Speed.


awesome contributory article, Mack!!

wish I had been at Goodwood to meet you…

part time viewer

very true, but its still all about organising things and having back up plans in place, i visit silverstone alot as i work in m/sport so know it well and understand the problems, but im sure there must be an answer.

James Clayton

The blame for this lies entirely at Silverstone’s management. Really, it’s not uncommon for rain in England at any time of the year. I remember the event being moved from April to June a few years back to prevent occurances like this. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Have these people not been in England in June?!!!

Why, on a race that has a ridiculously high probability of rain, are the cars parked in a grassy field?? Concrete the thing over; it can’t be any worse for the environment than the 200 unused tyres that are being disposed of today!

If that’s not really possible, build parking facilities out of location and run a shuttle service!

And why does the track have such poor drainage facilities? Why are they not being improved?

What is going on?


Also if I may, it is pretty hard for this type of rain volume to be absorbed by the earth. April date for British GP pretty much guarantees this experience each and every year. It should be held In July.

Let’s all remember this is a wild weather event.


I think you may have it wrong. They moved it to April a year or perhaps two for reasons I can only describe as “political”. I think we can all agree that British GP should NEVER take place in April.


Paul Hembery: “If they had six sets today would they have gone out more? And how many three-day wet events have we had? One in five years, it’s something like that. So do you go and spend half a million to one million Euros a year to cover an eventuality that happens once every five years?”

0.5 > 1m Euros??? Isn’t F1 a multi-billion dollar sport? You’re telling me they can’t put a contingency plan in place which mitigates the lack of running due to not enough tyres for a cool million Euros?

Bernie could probably chip in!


I think you guys are looking at the last GP in Silverstone. Just saying.


Yeah, Silverstone ALWAYS has this weather, of course.

It should be banned. Just like Spa, or many other European circuits atm.

Just saying.


Bernie has been fighting the BRDC for years, and with him wanting to have a GP in London all he really needs is an excuse.

And just look at what happens to Spa starting next year.


If you seriously think there will ever be a ‘London GP’, there’s little more to say.

Bernie doesn’t like the BRDC for what they stand for,as an ex- Warren Sreet used car dealer.


I had a good day. F1 is expensive. And there is no glamour unless you are in the hospitality tent. It has always been so. I saw people wearing flip flops which bordered on insanity. Have they not seen the weather here?

I take the view that the weather has been exceptional, pretty much across the UK and many summer events have been cancelled in rural areas. This area has experienced serious rain fall in the past month and just couldn’t take the timing of a one off down pour like today. They can’t stop that happening, but I do sympathise with the marshalling of traffic, if it needs to improve it should. I walked to the circuit as I live nearby.

It is tribute to the fans that we have donned our wellies & umbrellas and risked near hypothermia (when you are not moving you get cold) to enjoy what we did see.

Thankfully the hot food and drinks prices have not escalated beyond all sanity as that is what helps keep people in the circuit on a day like today. Perhaps more heated covered areas for shelter would be wise for those without covered seating.

I still had a good day, but I love F1, and will forgive most things. I hope those putting on the show tomorrow understand that those that do turn up deserve some recognition.

Mercedes are very good at mixing with the masses at the merchandise tent. Perhaps more teams should take note and give something back to those not sitting in a warm catered tent. Tricky on a race weekend I know but it boosts morale.

I will still enjoy the weekend either way and will dream of the day I too can afford to sup champagne and get a pit straight view. In the meantime I will put on my wellies and make the best of it.

Oh and I have also crossed oceans and been deprived of sleep for at least 48 hours for a race… so I think that gets me a couple of badges minimum.


We F1 fans sure are committed! James, does this Fan Report not deserve one of those high performance hoodie give-a-ways!

I have a strange feeling Bumpkin that you and those attending are going to be rewarded tomorrow with a memorable GP!


Thanks for the suggestion Sebee, (she-bumpkin size please) and haven’t stopped sneezing since the second soaking today. That hoodie might help!

I was at the back end of the circuit in every sense but stuck with it, and as predicted still had a good day.

I was really heartened by the coverage today & that it is recognised that the fans really are devoted to this sport.

And for all those thousands out in the open, on the banks and in the gravel, what a show of support. And still enjoying themselves!!

Looking forward to the race.


you and many more thousands deserve a full vest-full of badges! good post…


Re the London GP; I agree Britain deserves two Grands Prix. They just have to prove they can get spectators into one, in time to see cars on the track… for the first day of practice…

Lachlan Mackinnon

11 sets of option/prime per weekend compared to 7 intermediates/wets. From a logistics/cost point of view I can understand why the FIA don’t regulate more wet tyres being available each weekend. The added cost of dragging additional tyres around the world for a scenario that happens once in a blue moon would not make a lot of sense. However in saying that, in this case logistically Pirelli are indicating they can easily bring in more tyres to the track this weekend. Why can’t the FIA consider this an exception……make further wet tyres available to the teams and save the event. And I don’t cop the argument this would set a bad precedent……this sport is about putting on a show for the fans. I can see the point of regulations that force the cars to stay in the garage! James, get on the and have a word will you 🙂

Lachlan Mackinnon

Sorry for the poor grammar folks. The Tour de France and late nights are making life difficult down here in Oz. My last closing point mean’t to read ” I can’t see the point of regulations that force the cars to stay in the garage! James, gets on the phone and sort it will you 🙂 “


By the way, does anyone else enjoy this photo? Alonso cleans up really nice after a haircut and a shave. Take away that Ferrari jacket and he looks like a boy going to church on Sunday, not like the evil matador about to unleash a V8 bull on this British weather.


It would be interesting to know how long a new F1 tire would last when sitting on the shelf (Pirelli warehouse). Do these tires have a short life span or is it impossible to re-use a tire that has already been properly mounted on the rim?

My thought was to provide teams with a yearly allowance of wet tires as apposed to a race by race allowance. Surely the wet weather tire need not be mounted on the rim for every race.

In my search for an answer I did find out that the diameter of the full and intermediate wet tire is 10mm larger that the slicks. This must make a huge difference.

Love those British fans! A little break in the weather is very much deserved.


prolly has to do with the number of wheel rims the teams supply to Pirelli for mounting. I have no idea if this number is regulated by the sporting code or not.

anybody else know?


The lack of running is definately not down to the limited number of tyres.

I say that so confidently because I covered many practice sessions before the restrictions on avaliable sets of wets came in where nobody did much running during a wet practice session.running on the wet Friday.

There is also an article on F1Fanatics website in which Force India’s Robert Fernley says they didn’t do much running not to save tyres but to prevent dame to the cars & that there isn’t much data to be gained from running in weather like today.

James Clayton

“The lack of running is definately not down to the limited number of tyres.” McLaren, Lotus and Ferrari all disagree…


We British fans are incredible!

We knew quite well Friday was going to be a non event but we still turned out in record numbers with still more others stranded on the A43.

Maximum respect to the fans, it doesn’t get better than this, hopefully, the British drivers can repay them diehard petrol heads with some good result come Sunday!


A Williams crashed again. I think at every practice they will be asking them selves: should we send them out to crash or maybe keep them in the garage and copy the set up from the previous race


James question for u or for anyone for that matter. Why do Pirelli have to scrap the tyres that usually would of run today buy didn’t because of the weather. Why can they not be kept for other races.


Hey Guys, cud someone kindly confirm if tomorrow`s General Admission has been cancelled pls as I just heard that on BBC One but need to confirm from 2nd source which I am struggling. Many Appreciation. Roy.


F1 really needs to get its act together. Standing water on the track,no problem, raise the ride height and fit wet weather tyres. How hard can it be !!

How can fans be expected to pay the ridicuos fees when there is minimal running. Engines and transmissions are so much more reliable than they ever were. How about an extra constructors point in every session for the team that does the most laps, or a deduction of 5 points for teams that can’t be bothered to give the fans what they have paid for and don’t get a defiend minimum number of laps in. Allow spares cars and be done with it.

Grumpy of Warrington


James Clayton

I have often wondered. When it’s raining heavily, standing water lifting cars off the tracks is responsible for safety cars and red flags. Why do they not just make racing tyres 50% chunkier than dry tyres, thus lifting the bottom of the vehicle further from the ground?


the full wets (and inters) are a bit larger in diameter due to thicker tread and voids. there are physical limits to how fast the tire can spin before all that rubber delaminates and chunks away in addition to how much water can be “pumped” away from the contact patch. all the major brands including Pirelli do a fine job with this balancing act.

and yes, if expecting a very wet race, teams will often compromise their quali setup in part by raising the car a bit (parc ferme’ rules). there have been races where the tires could handle the deep water at slower speeds, but the car’s floor acted like the hull of a boat – the car itself hydroplaned – not the tires!

the real issue lies in that Bernie demands such modern and beautiful facilities there is no money left for even minimal storm water engineering & implimentation.

Silverstone is not alone in this problem, but decades of history were fundamentally ignored IMHO.


Hello James, thanks again for this amazing blog.

I’ve just read Paul Hembery saying “Today we have to strip and scrap 200 slick tyres that were unused” my question is, whats the meaning of this, if they are unused why do they have to scrap them, i cant find a reason for this, can anyone bring me some light on this matter, thank you.


The choice is scrap them or ship them back to the factory I suppose. Guess which is cheaper.

Tom Haythornthwaite

I read once (perhaps here) that because the tires are glued to the rims, they can not be removed without being scrapped.

James Clayton

This is horrific. Truly, truly horrific. This will be their argument for *not* bringing more wets to the circuit.

Real, proper logic, would say ‘dont scrap unused tyres’ but of course I don’t expect anybody in F1 to apply THAT kind of logic.

How comes anybody campaigning for a ‘greener’ F1 overlooks this travesty?

And before anybody say’s “its ok they recycle them”, Recycling is NOT a valid reason for creating more waste in the first place!


Thank you for your answers.

I second your question:

“How comes anybody campaigning for a ‘greener’ F1 overlooks this travesty?”


Tyres designated for a specific race weekend are destroyed and recycled regardless of whether they were used or not


haha. recycling is part of the “green” movement of the FIA 🙂


As a former low-level racer/racing fan and self-taught engineer of 50 years, I find F1 to be filled with massively talented engineers and (mostly) the best and fastest driver-athletes ever.

Too bad many of the team tactical and strategic analysts/team leaders / are such amateurs, and more importantly, the Brand big wigs are proving themselves such an incredible farce worthy of the desinigration seen almost daily…


How many years have “they” been failing at this cluster**** at Silverstone?? How many days of wet weather forecasts have “they” had to shore up organizational plans, infrastructure, contingencies, manpower and the such??

I have no interest in researching who all constitutes “they”, but for certain, it heavily involves Silverstone ownership, race promoters, FOM and FIA.

But it is so classy to blame all the problems on non-booked campers who were willing to pay to endure the EXPECTED poor inhumane conditions and minimal opportunity to actually see or hear their fav team and driver at work.

I get it! Have been a F1 and racing fan since ’62, suffered thru severe sunburns, hours of stop & go traffic jams for 20 miles on dusty or muddy dirt roads, fell in rivers of mud after deluges of rain, shivered on near freezing nights, carried away by mosquitos, etc.. All this for F1, Indy, F5000, CanAm, TransAm, car & bike Enduros of 6 to 24 hours at real and proper facilities like Indy, Mosport, The Glen, Nelson Ledges, Mont Tremblant and Mid Ohio; local Ohio circle tracks like Sharon, Cloverleaf, and Barberton Speedways. Even got to race a number of times on 6 of the above…

But the incredible passion of a few true diehard fans is now denigrated into being the biggest reason for “their” massive failures to provide an entertainment value????????????

I get first time gross incompetence, I get an IQ of less than 60, I get power and money hungry moguls, I get the political SPIN bull**** of supposedly going “green”. Maybe “they” should cut the fuel usage to allow only 9 laps of practice, 9 laps of qualifications, and 20 laps of racing all on 1 set of tires – damned the dry heat or cold rain. Woohoo, what an awesome $200 + general admission show that would be…………..


By the way TitanRacer – do you have ultra rare Bahrain 2012 badge?


I think you would have to ask one of the few fat cat dignitaries who showed up as nobody else did 🙂


Good post. Given the weather we’ve been having lately, waterlogging was totally foreseeable and they should have been ready for it.


How do you prepare for deluge of those proportions?

Are you a civil engineer?

Have you seen that this weather is affecting the whole of Western Europe?

Oh, FFS, can’t you see it’s the fault of the bankers?

Well, it has to be SOMEONE’s fault.


Nobody can really be ‘ready’ for a months worth of rain coming down in 2 days, in July. Seriously, it’s not a reasonable request.

It’s been 11 years or so since the last bad weather cycle came through, coinciding with the Silverstone weekend, to muck things up.

Weather happens.


I wouldn’t blame them at all for struggling to cope with such extreme conditions – but it wasn’t so extreme as to be unforeseeable, and I wouldn’t expect them to struggle to the extent of having to turn 30,000 paying customers away.


See Silverstone attendees!

This is what I’m talking about above. Bragging rights! Look what going to a tought condition race, suffering in the name of being a motor racing fan gets you! You can tell the rookie soft fans with their designer color pumas you’ve been to a “man’s GP”! In a hail storm. Having walked 15 miles to get there. In flip-flops. Uphill. Both ways!

You don’t get to call yourself TitanRacer until you earn the black belt of being a motor racing fan. Like boy scouts – you get a new badge for traveling to a race, crossing an ocean for a race, camping at a race, seeing a 24 hour race, seeing a wet race, seeing a snow race, etc. etc. TitanRacer has no more space for badges on his racing scouts jacket. Earn it!


6 hrs stuck in traffic? You can fit an entire Canadian GP in there!


LOL! 🙂 [though certainly not a laughing matter for the poor buggers stuck for 6hrs in traffic]


I won’t be surprised if Bernie doesn’t criticize the traffic and parking arrangement at Silverstone.

Knowing the conditions were severe, I wonder why some drivers opt for intermediates half way through FP2. Don’t these drivers really think before they put on those tyres? And when the checkerd flag fell, one driver was coming without his front wing. Absolutely stupid. From my armchair at home, I could have told the conditions were not suitable for inters.


Well, to be fair, he’s got good reason to criticise. It’s not like Silverstone hasn’t experienced wet weather chaos before – and, boy, did they get slammed for it last time so you think they would have beefed up their response plans. The tyre allocation rules don’t help the situation but one of the main issues is that, despite the amount of rain the area gets, drainage at Silverstone (both for the track and the surrounding car parks) is non-existent.

Dave Stebbins

Teams are given three sets of full wets for the entire weekend, but are given an extra set of Inters for Friday. That’s why several teams decided to try lapping on Inters even though the track was too wet for them. The one set was free and could only be used today and didn’t use up a set of full wets which might be needed on Saturday or Sunday.


The teams have to discard a intermediate set after friday, so one set of intermediate was fully expendable. There are only 3 set of wet tyres for the whole weekend (and none of them have to be discarded after friday or saturday), so yes, the weather was for wet but they lose nothing for trying the intermediate (well, maybe a front wing)


You did not mention that alonso crashed and wrecked Ferrari’s new front wing, that certainly gave the fans something to cheer about !

James Clayton

Fans I’d rather not be associated with


I can’t see much wrong with an ironic cheer for a low speed accident which presented no risk to the driver – and probably no serious damage to his prospects for the race, either.

Alonso probably ought not to have gone out on the intermediates, although I understand the desire to save the limited sets of wet tyres.

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