Well it was a bit more than the weekend…..me and my sister M went to the Formula 1 British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
As ever we try to make a holiday of it, travel up on the Wednesday; they allow us into the track on Thursday so buy all the bits we want to buy, and usually go to the concert they put on; Friday is F1 practice day, and concert in the evening; Saturday is F1 practice and qualifying and concert; Sunday is race day and home time; Monday sleep day…….
Off we trundled, for some reason a little earlier than usual (whether it was because Rosie was so easy to pack, I can’t tell, but….) and stopped off at Brampton Hut McDonalds for bunch (neither of us had had breakfast) at around 11.30am. Unusually there was a big queue coming out of the services, at the time we didn’t know why, and thought nothing of it, then we see a helicopter arrive…..something nasty had happened on the road. On leaving (just after 12) we measured 5 miles of tailbacks on the opposite side of the A14. It turns out that a lorry driver unfortunately lost his life, in a crash with 2 other vehicles at the roundabout, thankfully apart from M taking a detour through Northampton – she took the wrong road off – there was no other mishaps on the journey.
This year in her wisdom, M decided that we should try ‘Woodlands Campsite’, allegedly the best campsite serving the circuit. Now, usually we use the Litchlake Farm Campsite, and over the last 13 years, it’s been great, just over the road to the circuit, easy to pop back to if needed, there’s been a couple of blips here and there, but it’s mobile showers and toilets in a big cow field not a 5 star hotel! Anyway, after driving a further mile or so past our usual site, we finally make it into Woodlands….so far so good. We were booked into the ‘lively’ part of the site – now this is advertised as fun, friendly, showing people having BBQ’s and generally having a good time – reality, pack as many tents in as you can, a bit like sardines. Rather than park along side your tent, as is usual, we all had to park in a long row, fair enough, but instead of allocating a set area for each tent, you got the pitch along side of your car, and that was it. Luckily out tent has a side door, as the front door was unusable, next doors tent was 8 inches away, cars were about 2 foot away, and had to be walked around to get to and from the tents. Basically if one tent had caught fire, there would have been at least 30 tents and cars gone up in flames before anyone got there to try and control it. Needless to say our planned BBQ Wednesday evening turned into fried burgers and sausages! The choice of this site was regretted within minutes of arriving. Toilets and showers were quite good…..apart from the token system for hot water in the mornings – you was allowed 5 minutes of hot water, with a 1 minute warning before it went cold. Also the hot water started 30 seconds after you put the token in instead of from when you turned the shower on. Basically you had to get ready for a shower, come out of the cubicle, put the token in, then go back into your cubicle for the shower. We had our showers in the evenings….there was copious amounts of hot water at 10pm!!! There was entertainment at the site, a comedy stage (my worst nightmare, I don’t find comedians funny at all), a live stage, fairground rides, bars and food bits and a shop, all which was ok. I’m not sure where the lively experience comes from within the camping, people didn’t really speak, hardly anyone stayed around their tents (hardly surprising), unless they mean the idiots who stagger back to their tents after everything is shut, around 12.30 shouting at each other. And to make it all better, it was a mile walk to the circuit, which wasn’t a huge problem, but wasn’t very pleasant. Not impressed at all. Needless to say, we will be back at Litchlake Farm next year. Strangely, someone we met on Litchlake Farm, goes to the GP every other year, last time he tried Woodlands, he didn’t like it either, he was back in Litchlake this year……
As for the F1…..
Thursday: We was lucky enough to get access to one of the pit walks, it was amazing, seeing the garages, watching pit stop practices….a highlight, seeing Lighting McQueen and Jackson Storm in one of the garages, another watching the Renault guys warming up prior to pit stop practice – morris dancing was a comment! We did our shopping bits after, like you do….we were good took everything back to the tent (well Rosie), and went back in the evening for the concert. This year it was Travis, who are really good, really enjoyed them. The issue we had was that they hadn’t cleared the circuit, so people who hadn’t bought tickets, still got to see the concert….was happy about that!
Friday: Up early and in the circuit for 9am F1 practice session, this we decided to watch from the Becketts Grandstand…..a fantastic place to sit, but very very very cold and windy, it was so wrong not seeing Jenson Button out there. For the afternoon practice we headed around to the Village Grandstands where a dustbin bag became my friend, and kept my feet and legs warm (I was wearing my Merrell sandals and shorts, as it was quite nice out of the grandstand) again a great place to sit, but very cold. We hung around after the practice to wait for the evenings entertainment, as by the time we’d got back to out tent, we’d be turning around and heading back straight away, my nice new Silverstone chair perfect!. This evenings entertainment was Sara Cox (BBC Radio 2 DJ) and her ‘Just can’t get enough of the 80’s’ set, with the bonus of Carol Decker and Modern Romance. I love 80’s music, so I was in heaven!! It was a fantastic evening.
Saturday: Headed into the circuit for 10am F1 practice session. This time we headed for Club Grandstands – the last corner before the start/finish line and pit lane entrance. So perfect, that we stayed for the 1pm qualifying session! Again with my friendly dustbin bag! Qualifying was exciting……gutted for some drivers (Daniel Riccardo) ecstatic for others (Jolyon Palmer, Lewis Hamilton, Fernado Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen). It was during the wait between sessions that we established that the only drivers left still driving, since we started going to F1 in 2003 (Rubens Barrichello won) are Fernado Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, now Jenson Button isn’t driving. We hung around again waiting (she watched some other racing, I wasn’t so interested) for the evening entertainment – Reef this time, they were good, but I wouldn’t pay to see them.
Sunday: Race Day; Up early again, we had the tent all packed up and was in the circuit by 10.30am in time for the F1 Drivers Parade and the ever amazing Red Arrows. For the race, we have back row seats in Luffield (had the same seats for the last 3 years), we use picnic blankets (covered in Union Jacks) to block out the wind and rain (It’s a cold windy place is Silverstone, when you’re in a stand). Our neighbours Ferrari fans who hate Lewis Hamilton (they would love him if he went to Ferrari). The drivers parade came and went, all drivers being driven around in classic cars. The Red Arrows were as stunning as ever. 1pm arrives and the race starts….interestingly our grandstand was only half full…poor Jolyon Palmers car died during the formation lap, gutted. It was a race full of excitement, the majority being in the last few laps. Mr Smiley (Daniel Riccardo) had an amazing race he finished 5th after starting last. Sebastian Vettel had a puncture and had to go for tyre change in the last couple of laps (a shame – NOT!). Kimi Raikkonen, did a tyre change the lap before, at the time we though it was a mistake, but as it happens it wasn’t and he got on the podium instead of Vettel. Lewis Hamilton led the race all the way, and couldn’t be faulted. Valtteri Bottas had a corker of a race too. One of the best F1 races at Silverstone for a long time. After the race we had a little wander around part of the track, ended up at the start/finish line, which was packed, due to a certain Mr Hamilton still being in the pit lane and climbing fences. Then it was home time…..
Monday: Big lay in……… Tickets booked for next year – same seats again, next to the Ferrari fans – they booked their tickets at the circuit before the race………