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Derek Warwick open about challenges facing Silverstone this year
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Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Jun 2013   |  1:01 pm GMT  |  137 comments

BRDC president Derek Warwick says that the nightmare of last year’s British Grand Prix still hangs over this year’s event, but hopes that fans will turn out this year and support the event for the long term.

Tickets sales are down this year in a season which has yet to see a British race winner. There are also bad memories from last year’s event where torrential rain caused chaos.

Many fans were asked not to attend on Saturday so the organisers could get the car parks ready for race day. Around 400 public events were cancelled in the UK that weekend, but Silverstone went ahead with the race on Sunday.

“It’s always difficult to tell a race fan not to come on qualifying day because it’s quite a big day for everybody – so it was very emotional for all of us,” Warwick told the June edition of the JA on F1 podcast.

“We also thought financially it was going to hit us hard. It’s a very marginal business so therefore it was a very big decision for us to take to ask people to stay away.

“Fortunately, the insurance people stepped up and we paid out £1.1m compensation. That has hurt us this year and we are behind in ticket sales. Tickets are the only thing we have got to sell because Bernie takes everything else.”

Silverstone, which is operated by the BRDC and has long-term rights to the British Grand Prix, has invested heavily in infrastructure and drainage to ensure the events of 2012 are not repeated, but that has come at a cost, so the support of British fans is vital going forward,

“We’re struggling to keep up with our debt, ” added Warwick. “We have a big debt at the moment. We spent £42m on the circuit and the wing – so all we need now is for Lewis [Hamilton] and Jenson’s [Button] car to get quicker and that German driver [Sebastian Vettel] to go a bit slower – along with that Spanish driver [Fernando Alonso].

“It’s surprising what a difference that makes. When Lewis and Jenson are doing well we see a massive spike in people buying tickets.”

Warwick added that he is pleased with the job Silverstone is doing, but wished that the British Grand Prix, which this year takes place on 28-30 June, would get some sort of support from the government.

“The BRDC and Silverstone have been very brave in the commitment we have taken on our shoulders to spend the money we have done to secure the British Grand Prix,” he said.

“I’m disappointed we don’t get any assistance from the lottery or the government. There are not many circuits out there which don’t get at something from the government or a wealthy royal family.

“We do an amazing job. We’ve raised every grandstand three metres so spectators can see more. It’s not boring flat Silverstone any more. From most grandstands, you can see three or four corners and if you’re in the loop grandstand, you can see six or seven corners. There are not many circuits that can boast that.”

To listen to the full interview with Derek Warwick, plus more from Christian Horner, top engineer Mark Gillan and F1 money expert Zak Brown make sure you listen to the June edition of the JA on F1 podcast available to download via the iTunes store or directly here.

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1

Being going to british gp since 92 me and my wife and 2 lads over 1000 with travel to sit on a fold away chair a uneven vale where u only see the cars briefly year ago you could see them from hanger to bridge what’s gone wrong BE does not give a toss for the real fans if nobody turned up would have bring prices down

2

Silverstone is a country fayre masquerading as a world event. I shan’t be attending again. The place is farcical compared to other F1 venues I go to. Brewery and p***** is the thought Silverstone always leaves me with.

3

All very negative stuff from Derek Warwick and not really the sort of thing you want to be airing publicly. I dont think the taxpayer should be supporting this race with all the money swimming around in F1. If Silverstone wants to keep the race then better to stop moaning and do something about it and reduce ticket prices, etc. If that is not enough then maybe better to cut their losses, although I should add that F1 will be the real loser in the end if Silverstone does go.

4

As if the pricing isn’t expensive enough, from what I have seen over the last couple of years women have then had the privilege of having to queue for over an hour to use the toilet block at Club corner on the Sunday. How hard can it be to bring in some portaloos for the weekend and save them that trial? How many of them would want to come back after spending all that money and then having to experience that?

5

It’s interesting how fickle most European F1 fans are.

10 years ago, F1 was nowhere in Spain; 20 years ago, it was nowhere in Germany. Throw in a champion superstars each and watch sales boom and races multiply. Jens and Lewis not doing so well? Ticket sales fall in Britain.

‘F1 fans’ complain about empty stands in China and Maylasia. But I get the feeling we’d see empty stands in the UK if there were no Brits in the formula.

Conversely, Montreal is packed every year, rain or shine, and Canadians have only ever had two drivers of note to cheer for (half the number of Brits currently racing). And it’s not like there are a tonne of prospects to get excited about.

But year after year, Ile Notre Dame is packed with real fans. I guess some races just don’t need bandwagoners and can survive based on their own appeal.

6

would be interested to know tickets prices for the day/weekend.

Matt

7

I paid 15 on Friday, 35 for Sat, and $65 CND for Sunday, GA.

8

I’m sure another big plus is that it’s metro stop away from Montreal, and not in a farmer’s field 😛

9

WOW !

thats why it was packed !

no way silverstone will ever drop prices to that level

Matt

10

My disabled son’s communication class got cancelled last month due to funding cuts.

The British GP does not deserve a penny and must not get a penny of taxpayers’ money. If it does, I will boycott the track. It’s a business. Run it better or get out of it.

As that for that giant new building, it is built for rich people to sip champagne and have private parties, not so much for us fans. Ffs, we can’t even see half the pit lane from the stand!

11

The weather is of course a factor, however for me its the price: Grandstand sunday seat, camping with a caravan from thursday to monday and the estimated cost would be £600 plus. Sorry but that is a family holiday.

12

There were 40000 at Oulton Park recently for BTCC paying £27 with kids under a certain age going free. That is great value so why bother with the F1 prices. I could go to half a dozen BTCC meetings for the price of raceday at Silverstone, and they don’t have nonsense like DRS and tyres that disable all the racers. Time for Bernie and CVC to do one

13

Fans are frustrated I feel.

I’m not going to beat up on Silverstone for last year, it was a freak event and they dealt with it as well as they could in the circumstances.

However, ticket prices are extremely high and what do fans get back for it? As far as I see it, all the money has gone into:

1) Track alterations that make the track worse (Who on earth decided to get rid of Bridge?)

2) Build a nice wing that fans can’t go in or utilise.

For the same price as a Silverstone ticket you can go to Spa or Monza (including travel!).

No wonder sales are dropping off.

14

The sad thing is that pretty much all the income from tickets goes direct to Bernie, leaving Silverstone to run up debts to fund track facilities – clearly not a sustainable business model, unless all the races are held in countries with Governments with deep pockets…..

15

Actually, ticket sales are the only thing that promoters have to exploit (Bernie takes flat fees in the millions, set at the contract’s signing), which is why the BritGP is so expensive following the upgrades.

The sustainability of F1 tracks is currently BASED on government funding, and you don’t need to be a gov with deep pockets. Both Quebec and Texas, both saddled w massive dept, inject millions to pay the fees to secure their races. The justification is, for example, in the $240M the race bring to Montreal each year.

16

It is no good talking about Bernie taking less from Silverstone he has just had a daughters wedding to pay for….be fair !!!

17

I was planning on going this year, but the ludicrous general admission ticket prices priced me out of going. They will struggle to sell tickets when they are so ludicrously expensive.

18

I know he’s being quoted verboten, but people really need to stop giving the xenophobic bit air time.

19

TV ratings bring in much more for Bernie, so he dosen’t give a toss about the fans who like being at the racetracks for the sound and atmosphere. Being at Sepang and Singapore for the past six years I’ve noticed the dwindling fans especially in Sepang. At Singapore the walkabouts used to be jammed to the brim at the beginning but not anymore.

Now I’m thinking in 2014 when the turbos kick in should I attend anymore races, as Bernie hinted they need sound boosters for the cars. I wonder why?

20
Scuderia McLaren

Just an idea, why not combine a round of the British Superbike Championship as a support class to the British Formula 1 round there.

You will get the bike nuts and the F1 fans as well as many fence sitters who might be saving for another European GP will simply think that the British event is great value.

Also, you will expose the biker nuts to F1 and they might just like it as well as the F1 fans to the bike racing at it’s best. Win win.

Make it a Mecca of British Motorsport. There should be enough facilities for all teams of both sports using separate areas. BSBK using the old pit area, F1 the new.

21

Because there’s no way bike fans would pay that sort of money to get in. A ticket to the Superbikes is about £40 for the whole weekend. Even the Moto GP is only £80 for General Admission and a weekend grandstand ticket is about £100.

22

It’s an interesting idea, though there are lots of practical difficulties with running car and bike events on the same day – redeploying crash barriers/air fencing for example.

And schedule-wise, I’m not sure how you’d find room to fit F1 into the packed BSB programme 😉

23

Silverstone is one of key events on the Grand Prix calendar – the commercial rights holders should allow them some “promotional” funding. A bit like the additional revenue split Ferrari receive as a foundation team. There is no way that the government should throw in additional funding.

24

For those who missed the demise of Kangaroo TV.

http://riteshtripathy.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/fanvision-quits-f1/

James, seems BE is shooting himself in the foot with some decisions of late. The fans are feeling more and more alienated. Might be time for him to hand the reigns over to someone more in touch with the public.

25

Yes this is a serious issue, it’s so uncomfortable not knowing the split timing of drivers. We can watch the big screens, but not all are clear so you need to zoom in with whatever devices you have, be it a camera or your handphone, irritating though. Again Bernie does not give a toss!

26

I’m going to Silverstone for three days this year. Camping there just like I did in 2011 and I fully expect to enjoy it just as much. Last year was a disaster. We got there on the Friday, sat stationary in traffic for about six hours and then got sent home. So, yes, that day I was pretty miffed having left home at 6am and got back about 9.30pm. But we got a full refund and just paid it back for this year.

To everyone moaning about Silverstone I’ve been to Monza, Spa, Magny Cours, Catalunya, Hockenheim and Indianapolis and only the last two felt better than Silverstone. Spain I would say is about on a par for facilities but the first three are definitely worse. Also I’m amazed how good the prices are for food and beer at Silverstone. I’d hate to see it go but, if it should, then I would blame Bernie before anyone else. If you can put on that good a show for that many people and not make enough money because it’s being siphoned off that is not right at all!

27

I have attended something like 17 of the last 20 BGP’s, and have also attended F1 races at SPA (3)’, Indianapolis, and the Nurburgring.

A few personal perspectives:

– it is quite a commitment to attend the BGP, Grandstand, 3days, food and accommodation for 2 = c.£1k.

– the quality of access has decreased, with the loss of pit lane walkabouts, access to the centre, and bus rides of the circuit

– the longer track decreases the viewing experience, you see less laps with more time with cars being out of view

– multiple pit stops can make races a bit confusing for trackside fans, Kangaroo TV helped a lot but is not available this year ( why not?), much easier to follow race strategy on TV

– the new pit lane grandstand is a long way from the pits ( due to the need for run of for Moto GP I believe, and due the ground level it is not possible to see into all the garages from the grandstand ( very strange)

– overall races and tracks are designed around the needs of TV and sponsors and not trackside fans

– the quality of TV coverage and TV access has improved massively, so it is not longer certain that the trackside experience will match watching the event at home.

– if you have never seen F1 cars, then you must attend at least one race, the speed and noise is incredible ( you don’t get that get on TV)

– it is not easy with the Silverstone booking system to choose specific favourite seats,

28

+1 on just about everything here, most of all regarding Kangaroo TV/FanVision; that little gadget made following a race SO much easier and its absence this year has put me off going to any grands prix for the forseeable future.

As the races at present often feature such complex strategies with so many pit stops and overtakes (definitely not criticisms!) I’d get so confused without it. Unfortunately, hearing the commentary from the track tannoys over the noise from the cars and crowd isn’t always easy and finding a decent General Admission vantage point near a TV screen is even harder, so I wouldn’t be willing to risk buying an expensive ticket and not understand what’s going on.

I know it’s less of an issue at Silverstone as it won’t cost too much to follow the race using a tablet or mobile, but using roaming devices at every other race (i.e outside the UK) would cost a bomb, and their internet connections can be unreliable too.

Still don’t understand why FOM didn’t renew the FanVision deal… *sigh*

29

you make a lot of very good points, well observed….!

30

Bottom line….you have to go at least once. But I understand if you don’t want to go a second time. After all, there are other races on the calendar.

31

Bottom line….you have to go at least once. But I understand if you don’t want to go a second time. Been there done that: 2001, Mika won. Had such lead he took a tea while P2 come through to finish.

32

The F-1 teams did F-1 a great disservice several years ago when they capituilated to Max and Bernie and allowed the CVC fiasco to continue. They should have abandoned the existing governing structure and rendered the CVC investment worthless and started a new F-1 series with an equitable distribution of income to the teams, circuits and the FIA. A things stand, F-1 finances continue to be a disaster, most teams and circuits do not make a fair return from the sport.

33

The dynamics are simple; improve the show and fans will stump up and make the effort. I’ve been to Silverstone only once before and compared with other GPs I’ve been to, it is a diabolical venue. A clapped out airfield in the middle of nowhere, with poor facilities for fans and little of interest to see/do off-track, the racing really has to be great to make it worth it. While the current tyres nonsense (how boring is that?) isn’t Silverstone’s fault, this has been the least interesting season since Schumacher retired the first time. I am going next month, having planned ahead and bought two Woodcote Sunday tickets as my son’s Christmas present. However, had I known how this season would pan out, I wouldn’t have bothered.

I’m praying for rain, at least partially, on race day, so we’re less likely to see another tyre-management procession.

I’ve paid about the same amount for my Rolling Stones tickets in Hyde Park, where I am guaranteed eight hours of *entertainment*. Racing fan or not, I expect to be entertained when I shell out hundreds and I want to see RACING!

34

As many have already pointed out, and quite rightly, the biggest problem with the Grand Prix is how much it costs to get in. I last went to the race in 2007, and back then a 3-day general admission ticket was under £100 – still a fair wedge of money, but easier to justify than the £165 it is 6 years later. And in 2007 we were still in a boom period in the wider economy. I would very much like to go back to the Grand Prix, but at these prices I just cannot justify it. If the problem lies with BE taking the lion’s share of the proceeds, then I would suggest it’s time to take a harder line with negotiations. It wouldn’t be good PR if one of the oldest races on the calendar threatened to walk, after all, and with the WEC and MotoGP going on (to name but 2 other events it hosts) I suspect Silverstone would survive without the GP if their bluff was called. Whether BE would still have his job is another thing entirely…

35

We have been going to silverstone every year for the last 6 years.

The ticket prices get higher and higher each year

to the point where its just to expensive.

I will be watching it on TV .

36

In melbourne the corporate sector’s have been reduced allowing more public access. I sat trackside (on a grass hill at a bend with full view of the approaching cars and watched them snake through the bend). Was best seat in the house for $150 4 day pass. Ticket sales we’re the best in year’s due to this access.

37

Oh and Thursday was totaly FREE ENTRY.

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