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Derek Warwick open about challenges facing Silverstone this year
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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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


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.


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.


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?


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.


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



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


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



thats why it was packed !

no way silverstone will ever drop prices to that level



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!


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.


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


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.


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…..


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.


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


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.


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


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?

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.


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.


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 😉


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.


For those who missed the demise of Kangaroo TV.

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.


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!


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!


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,


+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*


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


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.


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.


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.


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!


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…


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 .


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.


Oh and Thursday was totaly FREE ENTRY.


As above, there’s little point moaning about the ticket prices.

The Government won’t help.

The contract only allows the circuit to keep money from ticket sales.

There is a huge amount if debt to service.

They can’t do anything but have these prices. If people don’t go and don’t pay, the future of the event and even the circuit are risked. If it all goes pear shaped, I’m sure those moaning about the price and not going ‘on principle’ will be the first to point the finger at anyone else but themselves.


Unfair Ash.

You may have the means and charity to give hundreds of your pounds indirectly to CVC without receiving due value or concern for principle but you’re evidently in the minority.

I don’t want Silverstone to fail any more than you do but if punters cannot afford it they have a serious problem.

That long-term contract has handed them all the risk and Bernie’s done his job well. I hope it gives him no pleasure. I doubt much gives Bernie pleasure these days.

It will take a few major circuits throwing in the towel before the real stakeholders – i.e. those with everything to lose – rally to save it.

CVC won’t fight an all out revolt because in doing so they’ll destroy their own asset – and Bernie doesn’t have the time or energy left to start all over again with a load of Kurdistan GP’s. When the current circuits and teams FINALLY work this out we might escape this stranglehold and get back to the sport we all love…


Bernie giving a million pounds to Blair and Labour a few years back didn’t endear the F1 community to the government, in fact made F1 seem even more corrupt than it is.

It’s a billion dollar sport. Why should any government help?

The problem is, F1 have got so used to going to new facilites where governments want F1’s publicity machine to make their regimes look healthy that they expect current established venues to be able to win over government funding.

New money hasn’t come from Europe, it’s comes from the middle and far east. It’s come from a couple of venues in America which will be popular because of the proximity of Mexico.

Personally, many of the Middle Eastern nations have poor human rights records, China is courted but has an appalling record too, Korea? India? They all have a need for a major international event. Europe sadly doesn’t.

hardest game in the world



I spoke to many people in Singapore about Silverstone. Most said cost was the main reason they would not go back to Silverstone. The value for money just isnt there anymore they said. I got a 4 day walkabout ticket this year in SG for $299SGD. That includes a Killers concert, a Rhianna concert and the closest ive ever been to track side at night!


It is such a shame that great venues are struggling. Bernie should take note of the GFC that still continues to cripple the worlds’ economies. Great venues like Silverstone and Albert Park are fighting to keep their races each year when the could easily host them if Bernie took even a 15% pay cut. Selfish behaviour from a selfish man.




Been to silverstone for the last 2 years. First one was a Friday practise, last year I went all 3 days. This year I’m not going at all purely down to price. The cheapest ticket being £65 is just too dear.


Dear All,

I don’t live in UK and it’s quite expensive for me to come (including flights and lodging). As most of you said, the inclement weather and the new layout have created problems. I can notice this on TV. Bernie plays his part as well.

I would like to know how much has the economic recession effected badly the British GP in terms of ticket sales?

Secondly, Warwick states that LH & JB are crowd pullers, but on TV I see a lot of Ferrari fans. Am I right?

I appreciate some feedback.


I think the recession has to a greater degree than being told not to attend last year. Until reading the article, I’d completely forgotten about it.

Having local drivers will always enlarge the crowd. Spain is a great example of this. MotoGP has a huge following in Spain, with four races a year there and F1 was always a quiet affair, but Alonso has changed all that.

Even the German Grand Prix suffered when Schumacher retired the first time, and from what I understand there is effects of recession there too because crowd figures havent risen with Vettel’s dominance.

The fact that Hockenheim and the Nurburgring are alternating the race is telling. Either Bernie’s fees are too high or the fans aren’t attending as they once did.

To your last point, everywhere around the world, there are always huge numbers of Ferrari fans, irrespective of driver nationality.


If it’s anything the Australian GP the GA tickets are like Methadone. They keep you alive (racing interest) but not satisfying…

And then with the ignominy of standing on your hard won piece of flattened grass you can watch the wealthy or connected few in the corporate stands with a view of the track to kill for… Look that’s fine but it makes my blood boil as they look in the other direction laughing, drinking and slapping each other on the back while the cars go by.

Sour Grapes? – Yes, I suppose it is.

F1 isn’t about being fair, or nobody’s, or anything out of the rarefied atmosphere of the privileged minority. I guess that is what makes it so attractive to the other parts of society.

A quote I partly remember goes something like this “the best driver the world has ever seen lives on a farm in the Urals and will only ever drive a tractor”.

Life eh?

Keep smiling and enjoy your flattened grass. That’s what I will be doing.


hardest game in the world

I am compelled to agree with many of the comments above re: ticket prices silverstone vs spa/monza. I have been lucky enough in these tough times to be able to go to many Grand Prix and am visiting both Spa and Silverstone this year. I am based in the UK, but no prizes for guessing which is costing me less/more overall. To balance my comments out slightly, I am implored to point out the fact that the BDRC receive no government or wealthy monarch’s assistance financially, and only make money from ticket sales (and other small, related revenues), and Bernie/CVC take EVERYTHING else. This is why I continue to go to Silverstone because if we don’t vote with our feet and attend this magnificent event, it may not exist in the near future.


I have attended every British F1 race since 1982. The so called fan experience has got worse and worse.

There used to be 7 or 8 support races throughout the day, with the pinnacle being the Grand Prix.

If a race was boring, you could stroll through different stalls with vendors selling all forms of souvenirs.

These days, you have a Porsche Supercup race, GP2?, or is that a Saturday race? And obviously the Grand Prix.

I don’t follow football, so I don’t have the expense of a four figure season ticket, so in that sense a 1 weekend outing to the Grand Prix, isn’t the end of the world.

but one thing that does frustrate me is maybe the organisers would care to leave Silverstone alone now. It has changed so many times since the early 80’s, there is nothing recognisable any more.

Monza has reprofiled the first chicane, the Nurburgring the last one. Barcelona has made changes once and many other tracks still bear their classic signature.

Yet Silverstone has lost so many great features in the same decades.

The last question is about fans attendance. When Mansell mania was at it’s peak, the crowds were in excess of 120,000 on race day alone. They restricted attendance to 95,000 because of problems with the road network around Silverstone.

Maybe I’m naive, but surely lower the prices and get more people through the gate and they will make more money? After all, the road network doesn’t even compare to the past nightmares


But if people are saying it is cheaper and a better experience to go to Belgium, Hungary, Spain to watch a race then why bother with the British GP when you get washed out, the fan experience is not good, the ticket prices are astronomical, the food and beverage prices are a real rip-off and the track doesn’t actually produce exciting racing any more (when coupled with the tyre and DRS issues). I think people ARE voting with their feet and looking for far better value for their hard-earned money.

hardest game in the world

Thanks for your reply, Bill. Maybe I’m just an optimistic patriot then? Though your point about DRS and tyres is completely irrelevant, as all tracks use them, I have to make clear that Silversone now has THREE major passing zones as opposed to just TWO previously?

All your other points do stand up well, but there is a lot of negativity in the world, unfortunately. So you are right when you say, ” people ARE voting with their feet” and that is a damned shame. I’m a tiny voice among billions trying to point out the positives in life. It is for this reason I continue to attend the British Grand Prix, and most importantly, to enjoy it. PEACE


I’ve attended the last 25 British Gp’s yet I won’t be attending this year. Not because I can’t afford it or because the Brit’s are not winning.

I won’t be attending simply because I hate what the DRS & Pirelli tyres have done to F1.

I dont want to spend a small fortune to goto an F1 race & see boringly easy DRS MotorWay passes & I don’t want to sit in the stands watching everyone driving around to a pre-set lap delta managing tyres.

Not just me either, I used to attend with about 15 other family/friends & none of us will be going to any F1 races anymore & all for the same reason.

I say in the stands just after Luffield last year & was put off by the number of easy/uncontested & therefore boring DRS passes that occurred down the new straght.

You don’t get to see everything on TV & I’d always assumed that DRS only made a few passes easy yet sitting there watching the race with a full-view of the DRS zone & practically every pass was made stupidly easy & virtually none were even half interesting to watch.

I like to see good racing & exciting, hard fought overtaking & since we don’t get to see that much nowadays I won’t be attending any more F1 races.

Ban DRS & get Pirelli to make raceable tyres & I’ll consider attending again but until then im out sadly & so are all my ex-f1 loving family/friends.

Laughing Viking

You obviously loved the processional races with impossible overtaking of the schumacer Ferrari era. Get real and appreciate what’s happening at the moment


Why do people keep acting as if the only possible alternative to the Schumacher/Ferrari era is what we have this year? Both this year and that era are aberrations in the history of F1.

Racing has always been “processional” though. It was when Fangio drove, it was when Senna drove, and it has been in the 21st century. The best drivers in the best cars virtually always start at the front and finish at the front.


Your last paragraph is so true.

For gods sake Bernie and the FIA listen to the fans and



The price hike this year is way too steep I’m afraid. I’d rather go European race again I’m afraid / spa / hungary etc


Went last year and would love to go again this year but simply cannot afford the ticket prices.

Make it cheaper and more fans will turn out!


As someone who spent eight hours in my car on the circuit approach road during last year’s Friday session, I won’t ever go back to a race at Silverstone. Yes, I know they can’t account for bad weather spoiling things, but they should have had a plan in place to get everyone turned around when they realised they weren’t going to get everyone in.

To be left grid-locked for an entire day, while security/stewards shrug their shoulders was unforgiveable.


If I want to take my young son to experience Silverstone for the first time it’ll cost me around £350 for tickets + travel/parking of around £100.

That’s almost £500 and we’ve not even included the cost of food and so on.

No thanks. I’m not a poor man by any means but those kinds of costs are simply prohibitive. Instead we’ll take a little trip to Belgium, have a nice little camping holiday and get tickets to the race while the wife relaxes in a health resort to wash off the mud from the camping trip and we’ll still have money left over.

The idea that low ticket sales have anything to do with the weather is naive.

The most disappointing thing is that the venue is dying a slow death. It simply won’t be around in the long or even medium term. I understand the issues of funding and so on but when you’re charging premium prices one would expect a premium experience. And you just don’t get that at Silverstone.

You could really make Silverstone a fan’s circuit, bring the racing to the fans with all kinds of add ons, it doesn’t take a lot of money to do, it doesn’t take much imagination either, just some effort.

I’ll pay £350 for tickets if I feel I’m getting my money’s worth, but the fans just don’t get that at Silverstone anymore.


wholly agree. living on its laurels


Drop the ticket price and more people will go, i have not been to a gp since 2003 purely because the spectacle of the car racing is not worth the admission price.

If i took the family, thats £600 before i have even left my house to go there for an hour and a half of racing. And then they wonder why sales are down


“Tickets are the only thing we have got to sell because Bernie takes everything else.”

A shame things are so marginal. Heaven forbid that BE would be as supportive of Silverstone as he is of Bahrain and other places with a fraction of the fan interest.


Well that’s not totally accurate.

Camping nets about $2 million, then there’s the 25% commission on food and drink, plus $25k for a merchandise space, Helicopter take-off and landing slots make around $1.5 million … While just a few years ago Silverstone’s top director gave himself a 41.8% pay increase.


Last year was bizarre, we went for all three days and saw nothing wrong with the traffic on Friday or Saturday. On Sunday G4 went a bit mad with the car parking forcing everyone (even 4x4s) into the hard standing car parks?

The tickets prices are the reason ticket sales are down. For the price of my weekend ticket last year I went to all three days of the FIAWEC this year at Silverstone – but got onto the grid before the race and had hospitality in the Wing.


Its difficult….,Derek wants government and or lottery funding. Damon did not. I have to side with Damon. The public should not fund something that is a very very Rich sport. The problem isthe the comercial rights extracts somuch money for CVC that we the public are expexted to fund them. In reality Bernie should take less and leave Silverstone more profit. The F1 teamswant and need more cash,the circuits need more cash… but CVC rolls in it.

Tom Westmacott

Looking at it another way, not only did 2010’s ‘improvements’ rob us of the legendary Bridge corner, but the Tilkification process has also threatened the financial viability and thus the future of the British GP. Hamilton and Button winning back-to-back championships in 08/09 was wonderful, but not the sort of thing to rely on when formulating a business plan.

Upgrading facilities is a good thing, but swapping out a perfectly good section of track for a new layout is the kind of needless spending that is fine for oil-rich autocracies, but not appropriate for a circuit that needs to stand on its own two feet, supporting itself on the meagre scraps Bernie allows it to keep.

Fingers crossed that everyone involved understands the importance of the home of motor racing (and of nine out of eleven F1 teams).


The redesign of the track layout wasn’t really a “Tilkification” in the sense I think you mean. Recall that when that redesign was done, Silverstone was not going to be running any more F1 races. The British Grand Prix had moved to Donington at that point. The new layout was really designed for MotoGP.

On a distantly related point, I was interested to read that MotoGP is going back to the old pit complex this year, citing lack of space in the paddock behind the “wing”.


Er Silverstone wasn’t redesigned by Tilke – it was a separate design team called Populous.




Some interesting points. If they were truly running their business properly then, given that their sole income was to come from tickets sales, they should have focussed on the needs of the ticket-buying public and give them a much better experience and better value for money and NOT invest beyond their means to keep BE happy. If the sums didn’t add up then they should have turned their back on the deal.

Yes, I know, there would be public outcry at losing the British GP but if people are saying it is cheaper, better and a better experience to travel to Belgium to watch the GP then you’ve got issues!

And don’t forget – 2012 wasn’t the first time they have had to tell ticket holders to stay away due to the weather flooding the car parks. I was living in Towcester in the late 90s and early 2000s and was able to walk to the track whilst many thousands had to stay away. Surely money would have been better spent on safe-guarding their future (only) revenue stream by investing their money into proper car parking facilities (even multi-storey) rather than new track layouts that the drivers and teams didn’t really want, and a new pit complex to satisfy BE. Yes, they needed updating as there were (still are) better in the world but it isn’t a successful business model when the only winner is BE and the track management, BRDC and public lose.

Rubinho's Keyfob

Hi Tom. I’ll add my 2p to your comment because you’re the first that mentioned something like “business plan” 🙂

The thing is, when Silverstone were gearing up to save the day in 2010 when it appeared that Donington wouldn’t be able to host the British GP, BE said there would be NO race if it wasn’t at Donington (In hindsight, obviously trying to hardball Donington). In the end the race was at Silverstone, and they invested a lot of money to upgrade the track. So what, exactly, did they negotiate into their new contract when they stepped in to save the British GP? Ticket sales only (i.e., something they had to then go out again and work for)? Nothing to compensate them and pay back over time for the investment they made?

It looks to me like BE saw them coming.

And now they are saying “Why don’t we have lottery funding [paid for by the British public] or help from the Government [paid for by the British public]”.

Perhaps if they had had some business sense when negotiating to dig BE out of the hole of not having a British GP when Donington failed spectacularly, they would not be in the position they are.

I could go on … it’s a shame.


BE has played hardball with Silverstone for many years. He and Jackie Stewart had a deep dislike of each other and whilst he was BRDC president, Bernie made no secret of his dislike of the club.

He tried to give the contract to Brands Hatch some years ago to bluff Silverstone into more work and higher fees.

What most people didn’t realise was that Brands would have needed planning permission to make the changes to the circuit and pits facilities.

A certain Lord Hesketh, who used to live near Silverstone and is a member of the BRDC, knew that no planning permission would be given, so understood Bernie’s bluff.

Fast forward a few years, and once again, Donington is showcased as the future of the British GP.

This is all a game for Bernie, he used to be a brilliant puppet master, but without Mosley to back him up, his power is waning. F1 teams don’t have the same respect for him and even circuits are re-negotiating terms


Max and bernie – you have just conjured up for me an image of Master Blaster from that tina turner mad max film!


You make the assumption BE cared about having a British GP at all.

He has shown numerous times in the past that he doesn’t really care where f1 is as long as it is held somewhere he can make money for CVC etc.

Do you think the majority of f1 viewers would turn away because there is no British GP? No.


22% of Unique UK viewers have turned away, but that’s more to do with the Sky deal.

Dimitar Kadrinski

+1 to Kris

And I think that BE really did not care about British GP [mod]. The guy thinks he is some kind of a God and can say and do anything as he wishes and then walk away from it, but hopefully the German authorities will stop this madness…


Spot on. Bernie’s only motivation is to increase the value of CVC/F1


Do you think the majority of f1 viewers would turn away because there is no British GP? No.

Maybe, but, at the same time, I think F1 turning its back on a country with a rich tradition of racing, a very devoted (within reason) fan base and the home turf of half the F1 teams, would send a strong message about how the rights holders value the heritage and tradition of the sport. This, I believe, would cause many people to reconsider their interest in the sport.

I find the British GP quite boring, but if BE insisted on dropping it – and everything described above – in favour of another Korea or Bahrain, I think I’d have seen enough to start thinking about alternative ways to spend my race Sundays.


I don’t think the weather has a great deal to do with the ticket sales, it’s too expensive. I love my F1 and up until a few years ago used to go but to pay £145 just for a general admission ticket for Sunday is robbery. I know it’s cheaper to go for 3 days but not everyone can get time off. I’m self employed so no work no pay


Indeed. The price of a grandstand ticket at Silverstone, which you need because of the weather, covers the cost of flight/hotel/GA at Monza, which is always sunny, always has a great atmosphere and where the plebs are allowed to go and see the podium ceremony and walk the whole track after the race.


+1 Silverstone is bad value and yes I am going this year, but only for Sunday, not the whole weekend as in previous years.

I have been to many of the European races over the years (Hockenhiem, Nurburg, Monza, Catalunya, Monaco, Mangy Cours and Spa) and all represent a better fan experience, with (generally) better weather at a lower cost (even factoring in travel costs) compared to Silverstone.

If Warwick doesn’t understand the law of supply and demand then I fear for the future of the race (given the level of debt the BRDC have taken on) if the tickets are not selling out then its time to drop the price.

James – I would be interested to see Mr Warwick’s justification of the current ticket price (the third highest on the calendar for the cheapest race and weekend tickets), especially in the current climate. The price of a general raceday ticket needs to fall imo by 40% to make this race a competitive proposition compared to its European rivals. This could easily be achieved by increasing the price of the top tier tickets (as the most expensive race day ticket and weekend tickets are only the fifteenth and ninth most expensive on the calendar respectivly) as these are paid for only by the mega rich or by corporates who will still continue to attend as it makes up an important part of their social calendar, rather than for the love of the sport.


Probably the most sensible thing I have read on this post.


Mr Warwick and other members of the BRDC are like a Gentlemans club, with funny handshakes.

He has lived in Jersey since the mid 80’s to avoid paying taxes, what does he know of ticket prices?


I’ve been the British GP for the last 6 years. I will be going to Silverstone this year, but only on 19th August as that’s the start point for our cycle to Spa to watch the Belgian GP the following weekend.

Even with the cost of the B&B’s and the ferry it’s still going to work out comparable price to Silverstone, but we get two holidays in one 🙂

I’m as surprised as Derek Warwick the difference that British drivers doing well makes to the attendance.


Come on British people!!! Go watch the race!!! If you dont you’ll end up complaining that they took the race away…


“Tickets are the only thing we have got to sell because Bernie takes everything else.”

(shakes head)

A human needs no more that $100,000 per year to meet all their needs and be reasonable happy. Each dollar earned after that makes absolutely no difference. When will society recognize that greed is a disease and do something about it?


Can’t agree about your income ceiling there, but the money we’re talking about with Bernie is truly obscene. It would be great if FOM could work with race promoters to ensure a surplus for each race. I realize that can lead to unintended consequences that could in the long-term be worse than the status quo. It seems right now that most every race loses money, but the spin-off economic activity is the only redeeming feature. But when that’s the case, governments have to get involved, and that usually never ends well for the taxpayer.


How else do you motivate individuals to execute flawlessly besides death or huge monetary losses? Could someone please recognize that Bernie understands what it takes to get things done?

He has a product and a price. You decide if you want to pay freely. I am not aware of guns being held to anyone’s head to sign a hosting agreement.


For the most part, I agree with you (see my bit about unintended consequences). But it just seems to me that the way Bernie deals basically pushes out any and all private-only Grand Prix promoters. Then when we’re dealing with public money, well … we know the threat of huge monetary losses doesn’t have the same impact on that sort of money as it would a totally private concern.


“When will society recognize that greed is a disease”

Hopefully never, since you know, once humans figured out that it wasn’t about 250 years ago, standards of living exploded higher and the pace of progress accelerated exponentially. Makes the entirety of human progress before that look like a flat line on a chart.


You have a very simplistic view of history and “progress”.


“standards of living exploded higher…”

Well, for some they did certainly. For the majority of those involved, however, standards of living got considerably worse with problems of overcrowding and sanitation and it’s only relatively recently that you could really claim a concerted improvement. Conflating economic progress with overall standards is something of a simplification I feel.

“…and the pace of progress accelerated exponentially”

Depends how you define progress I suspect. On certain measures, we’re no better than our forefathers.


I think you might have the social changes that preceeded and influenced the industrial revolution backwards…


With the increased lifestyle diseases, psychological conditions, environmental degradation, abject poverty for billions, crime, corruption, over crowding in cities, oppressive political governments, greedy corporates and immorality, I am not sure living standards have improved. The problem with putting a dollar figure on things like living standards is that when the figure grows people think the situation is better when in many ways its worse.


bang on the head,,,,national max wage…


Oh boy!

Where is the reward and motivation going to come from when everyone earns 100k?

And what will happen to corruption?

Let’s have reasonable suggestions that are realistic please.

As for rich vs. poor, there is an issue. Watch HBOs Vice about Mumbai. How someone can have a personal sky scraper with 2 Olympic pools and enough parking garage space for all the versions of Lambos one owns while overlooking the slums with 1 toilet per 1400 people is amazing to me. But it’s just human nature it seems.


I appreciate your idealistic thinking, but it doesn’t apply even under socialist models.

It will take structural unemployment, more automation and redundancy and other challenges before we find a way to a redefine our society and our daily routine.

Money is a motivator. Limit it, and you limit motivation to achieve things in today’s world. Also, F1 doesn’t exist without it or under a max salary model. Everything about F1 is extreme.


If money is the sole reward and motivation for doing something these days then I fear we are well on the way to Hell in a hand cart. Consider the Olympics and Paralympics last year, for example – there is no way they would have taken place without thousands of people giving up their time and other commitments to volunteer for no financial reward, and sometimes an overall cost as well (I should know, I was one of them). The reward and motivation of your job should be doing it well and being compensated accordingly for a job well done – requiring a certain number of zeros on your payslip as a prerequisite is probably half of the reason we ended up in this mess in the first place.


I would really like to attend an F1 race. But with two kids and a mortgage there is no way I can afford £145 to buy me a ticket that as far as I can tell doesn’t even get me a seat! If I want a Grandstand seat then the cheapest is £230 and looking at its photo it appears to be half a mile from the track.

Make the pricing somewhat sensible, and you might get a few more people attend.


Pretty sad how little interest there is in their own GP, unless a Brit is winning.


It’s the same everywhere, the Spanish GP was dead until Alonso arrived, and if you look you will see a lot of empty grandstands on tv at most races.


Singapore has MASSIVE crowds. How many singaporean drivers? China? Abu dhabi? Canada! All large crowds. Its the facilities that keeps them coming back and the off tract entertainment. This year in Singapore ill be seeing Rhianna, the Killers, Dynamo will be performing. All on my one race ticket. $299SGD for 4 days..


Maybe that’s because the Singaporean government props up the GP financially, enabling cheap tickets? Silverstone has to foot the bill with gate money only.


Ok, just to clarify, most of the Singaporeans I know will not be attending, although a few have got a 1 day pass. In terms of actual racing fans here I know one who isn’t an ex-pat. The post race lineup is appalling too. You forgot to mention Tom Jones, Bob Geldoff and Justin Bieber.

Look at TV audiences across the globe, I think that is a measure of how much a country really cares about racing. Personally I watched Montreal live and it started at 2am local time. When I am back in the UK I will get out of bed for Japan/Australia.


Over 60% of the global TV audience for F1 is still in Europe. Asia Pacific is only around 15%


Yes how many GP’s don’t have a countryman in their race and they still fill the stands and cheer EVERYONE on?


Monaco, Canada, Hungary, Belgium, Singapore and USA.


Well, Nico was a local boy done good this year!


Yes exactly

Like Italy just to name one.


You forget, Italy has Ferrari.

In fact, the loss of Italian drivers hasn’t impacted in Italy at all. But if Ferrari pulled out, well..


Aah yes the Silverstone management are in a major prickle.

For not only are the fans poorer than say 6 years ago, but also, none of the British teams are fighting for the championships due to poor cars, meanwhile the track debts mount as Bernie still collects his licence fee.

Also it’s a shame that the government doesn’t help out by taking care of some of these costs for if the government can give out lots of our millions in foreign aid (even to strong economies), surely they can do something for us too.

Anyway, well done to the management for taking care of the drainage issue for last year was horrid and as another suggestion, maybe the management should ban personal cars and instead hire numerous buses to ferry fans to and fro the circuit.

Right, hoping for some serious showers come race day for I think only then will our boys have us singing… ”Rule Britannia”


Well a previous government did spend a lot of money imprpoving the roads around silverstone and i think it was felt that was enpugh and in any case i dont think a gp should be supported by taxes. So we either pay bernie tax on tickets or the race is taken off the callendar. Life just isn’t fair!


If the Arabs can organize an F1 event in the middle of the scorching desert, the Brits should be able to handle a bit of rain on a field?

On top of that, Silverstone is one of the worst tracks for overtaking. Take away the nostalgia and nationalism and you have a very poor race/track.


The second part is sad but true.

Silverstone feels much like Monaco to me – completely different races but, once the novelty of the race being where it is wears off (normally after 5 laps or so), you come to realise that it’s one of the dullest, most uneventful races of the season.

To be honest, I feel this way about many of the courses. I understand the need for financial stability, long-term contracts, etc. but I really feel many countries would benefit from rotating races between tracks. England could offer Donnington or Brands Hatch. Spain can alternate between Valencia and Barcelona. France has at least two. Perhaps those countries without the resource to put on a race every year (a la Turkey, Argentina, Mexico) could appear once every other year.

Make the races the events and spectacles they should be – both within the countries themselves and internationally. I’m tired of half-empty stands and drab circuits being on the calendar because some government or sheikh wants to bring some publicity to its country. What’s more, it’s coming at the expense of circuits like Silverstone, where it appears the passion and fans are there, but are having to pay the price for Bernie putting the mega squeeze on.

Everybody talks about the quality of facilities but look at Monza (not shabby but far from first class), Monaco (cramped pit lanes and hampered grid preparations) and Brazil (decrepit facilities and high crime). Those races are among the most watched and well-attended of the season. Why is it that they’re not being put under the cosh the way Silverstone appears to have been?


This may be of interest to you

Monza may be at threat!


Because F1 is essentialy British. How can you ask Brazil to pump millions in their track when yours is vintage retro derelict?


Yes there was mud last year, there hasn’t been a British winner this year, but…….

There is STILL a recession on & many people can not afford to pay the huge prices for entry & seated viewing.

It’s on the telly – relatively cheap.


I wish Derek and the organisers a successful and dry British Grand Prix weekend but I fear the real reason ticket sales are down is not so much the lack of success of British drivers in 2013 but more to do with the cost of the tickets themselves.

That is why I will be watching it on tv this year.


I’m torn when it comes to silverstone, whilst (I would imagine along with any other British Motorsport fan) I love that we have such a fantastic venue here in Blighty I cannot make peace with the ticket prices Silverstone charge. I think this may be their Achilles heel, and one which I have never seen them own up to – but when fans can go to spa, afford a hotel to stay in and weekend tickets (albeit non grandstand) plus travel for less than a day ticket to Silverstone then surely the pricing needs to be addressed…


Derek Warwick explained this in the interview. Bernie charges really high race fees which rise with interest for every year of the contract. I think the interest is usually 7-10% but Silverstone managed to negotiate it down to 5% in exchange for a long-term deal. Problem still is that trackside advertising, merchandise and corporate hospitality is all covered by Bernie’s guys so none of the revenue from that goes to the circuit.

Hence their only revenue stream is ticket sales and the only way they can match the rising race fee is to keep ramping up the ticket prices. Obv if people vote with their feet then revenue will be lost and the circuit organisers will have to reduce prices but that doesn’t usually happen because F1 is the pinnacle and Silverstone is the only F1 race held in the UK.

The only source of respite for spectators that I can envisage is if more stands are built, because increasing the number of available places means you don’t need to charge each individual as much. In accordance with this there were plans a couple of years ago to use the old stadium section (Bridge corner, Priory, before it meets the new circuit at Brooklands) as a kind of Henman Hill-equivalent where spectators could stand and watch the action. This sounded like a thoughtful idea to increase viewing choice and simultaneously ease some of the burden that attending the race puts on the fans. However, it’s been a while since I’ve heard anything about this plan.


Well I’m not sure if Derek said everything I’ve just written (I haven’t listened to the interview in full), but from this article he has said that ticket sales are the thing they have to rely on to bring money in from the event.


If they can’t sell out with with Kimi, Alo, Ham, But, Vet lined up on the grid, then something’s up, and the first place to look ought to be ticket prices


I have gone to silverstone for 13years,,the rain and mud don’t put me off,we’re British! It’s loosing its appeal year on year.the fan experiance is dissapearing,i normally purchase my tickets at Xmas,this year I only gave in a few weeks ago,ill give it 1 more year.The first year we had enclosure tickets at Farm,you weren’t squeezed into a grandstand were you have to get 50 people to stand to let you past if you want a drink,you had a plastic seat on a block of concrete.The view was great and you had a sense of freedom.the teams made an effort with BMW showing an F1 car doing donuts a meet and greet with the drivers,Mercedes had a stand with there current cars on from F1 to touring cars,you could get your photo of the kids next to the cars,it was like having a mini motor sport show at a GP.kangaroo Tv kept you informed during the race with Tv/radio commentary in your ears,you could wonder thru the pits admiring the massive motorhomes and energy stations,the spakleing trucks,hundreds of them all polished to show room condition.the after show party had top bands to finish off your weekend with drivers attendinding that they appeared to quite enjoy.Year on year a bit doesn’t happen,the enclosures have been replaced with 3m taller grandstands,the great new pit complex the fans can’t walk around or get close to,the free stands are replaced with extra merchandise stands,the kangaroo tvs have gone,,the tickets arrived today,not even a mini programme to tell you what’s happening or when,just tickets in an envelope,I hope it blows me away this year,, but I fear it may be the last one.


Well said Warren, you are spot on! We pay more and get less. Its like paddock and pit access, just non existant unless you want to pay £1000s. I don’t think this is silverstones fault but FOM.


I hope they read this… but surely it makes better business sense to cut prices by half next year – get it filed to the rafters again – put on an amazing show and then gently ease them up once more. Bernie’s contract no doubt has them by the balls…. but passing that to the fans and expecting all and sundry to pay <£400 including for children is killing it.

They need to be radical and think what they can do besides F1 to add value. Run a questionnaire this year and ask the fans what will bring them back!


Personally, the criticism leveled at Silverstone last year was unfair. That region of the country was experiencing extremely unseasonal weather, it was practically flooded.

It wasn’t just a sprinkling of rain, it was days on end of torrential rain that washed everything out.

I went to Silverstone in 2008 and 2009 and the organisation was the better than I experienced at Nurburgring in 2011 or Austin 2012. There was little queuing and you could park right next to the track. When the race ended, there wasn’t a traffic jam and you could exit quickly, despite the mass exodus taking place.

Yes, it is unfortunate that fans could not make it, but that was not the fault of Silverstone, the weather conditions made it impossible. It might not have been a Tsunami or an earthquake, or some other International headline grabbing natural disaster, but it was not simply a bit of drizzle either. It was not something that could have been prepared for, unless they tarmac over all the surrounding fields used only for parking one weekend a year.

In an era where nearly every other circuit is bankrolled by its government, what Silverstone manages to achieve is remarkable.


While I mainly agree with you here, one thing I would like to point out:

“that was not the fault of Silverstone, the weather conditions made it impossible”

They should have really been prepared for any sorts of weather conditions, so it is their fault.


“They should have really been prepared for any sorts of weather conditions, so it is their fault”

Just how would you suggest that they should have dealt with the fact that virtually all the surrounding areas were, or had been under water for weeks prior to last years race?

Silverstone has faults, but I’ll excuse them for not being able to control the weather.


Wasn’t the country flooded? Any other event would have been rescheduled. No one wants to accept that FOM likely said…show must go as scheduled. Too bad for Silverstone and too bad for fans.

I think a reasonable option would have been Quali Sunday if not for all the Saturday only ticket holders of course.


You can reschedule. They did in Fuji or Sepang a while back, where Quali was moved to Sunday morning.

The problem in this case is that Silverstone sells 1 day tickets. So you can buy Friday only, Saturday only, Sunday only – instead of only full day weekend tickets like many other circuits do. That means if you need to reschedule, you can’t because you have all the Saturday people to refund. How Can you get them their ticket’s quali entry, and ensure they leave the circuit for the race if you move Quali to Sunday? Exactly.

So if Silverstone sold only weekend ticket packages, it wouldn’t be an issue. You move the quali and give people Saturday action in one day.

Also, just because there were people camping doesn’t mean an event can’t be rescheduled. If it’s unsafe due to weather, it is certainly safer to send everyone home than to force the event.

That’s my view.


You can’t reschedule it.

Last year I arrived at Silverstone on Thursday afternoon and it was dry and sunny. We set up our tent and had a drink in the evening.

Late evening started raining and didn’t stop until Friday afternoon for a while.

How can you suggest to reschedule it when there were already tens of thousands in the camping area?


I was never a great fan of F1 getting support from the government, but having read the recent report into the Olympic Legacy, particularly around the number of people taking part in sports, it kind of makes me think that a small percentage of the Olympic money could have been diverted to F1


I disagree. They don’t put banana skins down for the 100 metre sprint just to “mix it up” because everyone is sick and tired of Usain Bolt winning.


Been to Silverstone for the last few years, and enjoyed every single second!

I can’t believe how many tickets are still available, even GA’s are still there. This time last year, only Friday tickets were available so its not looking good.

The only reason I’m not going this year is because I got laid off, and cant justify the price 🙁


Maybe the roof on tbe paddock is a graph of predicted ticket sales.


Silverstone is paying the price for investing all of its money in facilities for the few in the paddock and none on facilities for the fans in the stands.

The toilets are still a disgrace, the parking situation is terrible and there are no public transport links to speak of at all.

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