Let me start this post with saying, I bought these tickets for my dad. I was going for company. And because I was intrigued. Yet, I’ll be honest. I loved it!
It was back in November last year. I hadn’t a clue what to get my dad for Christmas. He’s always a tough one. You know the type. He says a Halfords voucher, new tool or white t-shirt with minimal print will do. But I want the wow factor with my gifts. I just don’t want to give something standard. It doesn’t usually have to be big, just thoughtful and something they’re not expecting.
Two tickets to the F1 Qualifying at Silverstone hit exactly that brief. With it being a bigger pressie than I’d usually buy for celebrations, it covered his birthday/Fathers Day too – win, win. I didnt have to think of a birthday present either.
Dad was excited. Me too. I’d never really gotten into it on TV. But I wanted the experience. Try something new.
The British Grandprix has been held at Silverstone on and off since 1948, but consistently every year since 1987. The British race is the oldest, and joins the Italian race as the only two Formula 1 World Championship Grand Prix that have been stage during EVERY season that the championship has been held. So we’re a pretty big deal 😉
The track itself lies over the border of Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire. Not far from Northampton and Milton Keynes. It’s not too tricky to reach from the West Midlands. But we still played it safe with the M40 Park & Ride. It was super simple. Arriving at around 8am, we had a smooth journey into the track. The journey back wasn’t so smooth as the driver wasn’t sure on the route, but we got there in the end.
Into the track at just after 9am we had plenty of time to enjoy the practise laps, and other races during the morning. People had already started settling in with chairs and blankets on the verges but there was plenty of space to perch, sit or stand still.
We did go for a wander to find the best spot. You do need a good view. We didn’t want to walk the whole track so did stop by Abbey which was only about 10-15 minutes from the entrance. We were right in front of the pits, and had a great view of a tight corner to our left – the Abbey and Farm curve. Investigating later too, I think we had one of the best.
The GP3 was the first race we caught. It seemed so fast. To fast. I was absorbed in watching the cars as they flew round the corner. Dad gave me lowdown on sounds, tires, pit stops, drivers mistakes and the rest. At this point I was already thinking I could get into this. It was thrilling. Even when the red flag came out to stop the race, I was drawn to the screen, watching what had happened.
We then had the F1 final practise lap. Dad had mentioned how GP3 looks fast, but it’s nothing compared to this. I didn’t believe him until the first car out for practise zoomed past, and took the corner at almost rocket speed. The sparks from some of the cars too as the body was SO close to the ground as it took that corner, were pretty crazy!
Nothing prepared me though for the atmosphere and thrill of the qualifying. It was electrifying. The sound of the engines in the pit started the excitement. The speed. Watching the drivers fight for top 15, then top 10 was intense. The cheers as Lewis Hamilton flew past showed the love for the sport and the British driver. And when Hamilton and Vettel were SO close in the last few mins, it was tense. The crowd when Hamilton came top in the last minute was amazing.
We did stop for lunch in the middle too. There were loads of food stands dotted on the outside of the circuit, behind bandstands and public viewing areas. As well as lots more in the entertainment zone, a space with a stage for viewing/music (it showed the World Cup after the qualifying race), and much more including Segway racing and laser target shooting.
It was hot that day. Oh so hot. So we bagged a seat on a picnic bench in the shade and didn’t want to travel far for food. Or water in that fact. Lucky for us, here was a hog roast stand right by us. Huge brioche naps followed with roasted pork, crackling and Apple sauce. It was delicious! At £7.50 it’s about the same price as street food in London, so its worth buying there.
You can take food and drink in too, so picnics are possible. But with the weather so warm, sweaty sandwiches were not what I fancied. Pork baps hit the spot.
As for drinks, there were plenty of bars selling alcoholic and soft drinks. And all the food trucks appeared to sell fizzy options too. There are water points to top up water bottles to keep hydrated too! The queues can get long, but you need to keep watered, especially when it’s hot!
In addition to the entertainment zone, there was also a F1 Simulator, showcasing what it’s like to be on track with Hamilton. It looked pretty cool. We did almost get to try it, but the internet was down and they couldn’t take card payment. With no cash machines in sight, taking change is definitely something I’d recommend. Maybe just for backup.
- Fun?: I LOVED IT. So much fun. The races on a Saturday are shorter, and qualifying is knockout rounds, s much more exciting. But it’s so different in real life…more exciting and exhilarating.
- Picking a spot: In front of the Abbey grandstand was fantastic. The view of the pits and the corner to the left was awesome.
- Price: At £95 per person for Saturday, if booked in advance, it’s just a little more expensive than a festival. parking is £20 too, and I definitely recommend park & ride.
- Food & Drink: You can take food & drink in with you if you want to picnic. But there are plenty of food stand and bars along the route around the outskirts of the circuit. You never have too far to go for it. The pork bap was pretty darn good!
- Recommend?: YES! Even if you’re not the biggest F1 fan, but someone close to you is, the qualifying is definitely worth experiencing. I would happily go again!
Have you ever been to the F1? Or something you thought you wouldn’t joy as much as you did?