“ Sports: Motorsport / Sport Topic: Motorsport Events „
I attended my first grand prix this summer at the Spa track in Belguim. I wasn't sure what to expect, and thought i'd share my experiences here so other novices know how to get the most out of the Grand Prix weekend.
The first thing to mention is that if you are travelling from far and need accomodation then you need to book early. Most circuits have many camp sites near by but when I was checking in there were some people who had just turned up who were turned away. They were told that the site had been fully booked for 5 months. Local hotels were all fully booked also. Some entreprenurial local residents were renting out rooms in their houses but if you take this option then expect to pay inflated prices with no guarantee of the standard of accomodation.
Most camp sites are within walking distance of circuits, and if any site advertises themselves as race weekend accomodation then they will run buses to the track if the walking distance is too great.
If you have a 3 day ticket to make sure you go on the Thursday before the weekend. On the thursday the pit lane is open for a few hours, and there is free access to everyone with a 3 day ticket. This wasn't very well advertised and so we nearly missed it. During the time drivers sign autographs and you can watch the pit crews working on the cars from a close distance. Some teams were practicing pit stops.
If you have a general ticket with no stadium seats booked then on the days where there is track action it will be worth getting to the track early to find a good spot to watch the action. These areas fill up early in the day (as early as 8am) due to the high demand to be at a good spot on the track and close to a giant screen where the action from other parts of the track can be watched.
It is not worth positioning yourself in an area where there is no giant screen as it is difficult to follow the positioning of the cars without the on screen graphics (which is the same as shown on the BBC) on the giant screen.
If you have reserved a stadium seat then you will be able to come and go from your seat as you please, although prices increase significantly to buy a seat. It is worth it to have the freedom of coming and going. There are plenty of other things to see and do on the race site and being tied to your spot restricts your chances to do these things.
There is the F1 village, in which there are various stalls where merchandise can be bought, every thing from t shirts to binoculars. I was initially sceptical about the mercahndise, expecting sky high prices, but ws pleasantly suprised to find that some t shirts started at just 12 euros. Having said that these bargains needed to be hunted for, and many other products were very pricey.
Food and drink can be purcahsed from numerous food stalls. Prices were not excessive, although the choices on offer didn't extend far beyond sausage and chips, burger and chips and.... well you get the picture. If a more substantail meal was wanted then a trip to a nearby town is needed in advance.
Another piece of good advice is look at the historical weather for the circuit you are visiting. If rain is likely (as it is in belguim) then take appropriate clothing and a brolly.
The last thing to say is just enjoy the sound of a formula one engine as it roars past you - there really is no way of explaining just how amazing the sound is!! (Earplugs will be suppplied with your ticket - but they're for wimps!!)
the whole experience is a truly amazing one and I'd recomend going to a race weekend to anyone, even if they are not a big grand prix fan before the weekend they will be by the end (this happend to my girlfriend!!)
So, the half-way point of the season and the Brawn team have tacked around the buoy with the spinnaker up, the wind flapping through the mainsail and the spree in their faces, now racing towards the finishing line. Silverstone wasn't as productive as they had hoped and the first real signs another team may catch them up but Barrichellos third place suggesting there's no real panic yet. It would be the 'curious race of Jensen Button', this time around. I had a little side bet against Brawn with 50/1 e/w on Ferrari perhaps finish third and with a splash of red in the top six last weekend there's still hope but you do feel Vettel and his Toyota team are the only ones that can catch Button and Brawn now. Nice to see Williams score some points at Silverstone and you must fear for McLaren's future, the first time since 1990 they haven't been on the podium this deep into the season. 1980 was the only season in their 43 Formula One campaigns they failed to make the podium for the whole campaign. Life is not great for Lewis Hamilton, his annoying father also being nudged off he pit lane camera by Jensen's equally media hogging John Button.
British Grand prix 2009 result
1 Germany - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault) 10pts
2 Australia - Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault) 8pts
3 Brazil Rubens - Barrichello (Brawn-Mercedes) 6pts
4 Brazil - Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 5pts
5 Germany - Nico Rosberg (Williams-Toyota) 4pts
6 Great Britain - Jenson Button (Brawn-Mercedes) 3pts
7 Italy - Jarno Trulli (Toyota) 2pts
8 Finland - Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 1pt
This time last year Bernie Ecclestone cruelly took the opportunity to announce that there would be no more British Grand Prixs at Silverstone, smugly standing in the Silverstone paddock when he did. I think I wrote this time last year on dooyoo that I didn't believe that would happen and the midget was up to his Machiavellian tricks again, which seems to be the case as the preferred alternate, Donington, as excepted, is nowhere near ready, the tough financing conditions likely to see them sell the rights back to the purpose built Northamptonshire track. I have it on good authority the race will stay at Silverstone and tickets went on sale for the race today - if there is an F1 series next year of course, the big story on race weekend as Bernie again worked his evil.
As I do write for the local paper in Northampton we were party to some inside information on that story. Our understanding is that Bernie holds the key components to the F1 series and even in the cars leave he has the clout to keep the TV deals in place for F1. With Setana going bust and credit hard to get it's almost impossible to fund a rival series. We understand there is big Indian money interested in F1 as it is, hence Force India staying put with the other team Williams. But we also understand that is being countered by the Middle East oil trillions, they and S E Asia where most of a possible new series would be based. But as Bernie holds the best cards and this is really an exercise in trying to get Max Mossely to resign then I do expect normal Formula One business to resume next year, be it minus one or two European tracks and teams, Silverstone being one of them to survive.
As I live in Northamptonshire I would religiously go to the British Grand Prix as fan and spectator, although not so much of late. We have been priced out of it by Ecclestone and now and it's a corporate event, why Bernie name is mud around here. Eight F1 teams are currently based within twenty miles of the track and motor racing is part of my counties heritage. To lose the Grand Prix will be huge blow, not only for fans but for industry and jobs in general. Ecclestone would rather take our race to the new tobacco markets of South East Asia for twenty million more quid in his pocket than protect the home of motor racing and the thousand of jobs dependant on it. Max Moseley may not have many supporters after his antics and his cost cutting budgets would put engineers out of work but at least he has the fans at heart.
Spectating at Silverstone has always been a hardy affair, the proles having to rise at 4am to beat the traffic and get to the gate early so to find somewhere to sit on the increasingly limited grass banks. If it rains it's a horrid day out and you slowly slide down them into the pile of rubbish at the bottom. If its sunny it's the only place in the world to be, and it's not often you can say that about Northamptonshire. While middle-England rock up to Wimbledon and Glastonbury yours truly will be watching real men do real men things in big noisy cars.
Cost wise the grandstands are extortionately priced to make sure the corporate crowd buy them up as they know the race will stay elite that way. The corporates won't sit in the mud after hopping out of the helicopter and into the limo. The new breakaway series are promising much cheaper tickets on their tour. Silverstone is one of the most expensive out of the 17 although this year they did a general three day ground pass for £99 if you bought before Christmas. That ticket is on sale again. The huge crowd this week didn't reflect those cheaper passes but the fact that Button could have won and more importantly it was probably the last Silverstone race in their minds. Neither of those things has happened though and one will be back next year at the front of the grid - and it won't be Button.
It makes for fascinating reading looking at the standings before the British Grand Prix in 2008 and 2009. The standings have quite literally been tipped upside down, hence Button starting the season with the bottom ranked number 22 on his car.
2009 mid season top drivers...
Button 61 pts
Barrichello 35 pts
Vettel 29 pts
Webber 27.5 pts
Trulli 19.5 pts
Glock 13 pts
2008 mid season top drivers
Kubica 46 pts
Raikkonen 43 pts
Hamilton 38 pts
Heidfeld 28 pts
Kovalainen 20 pts
2008 mid season bottom drivers
Vettel 5 pts
Glock 5 pts
Barrichellio 5 pts
BUTTON 3 pts
The truism that ok drivers in great cars are quicker than great drivers in ok cars seems to be the case. Buttons a neat driver but the pressures on now and I expect the rest to close him down. Hamilton, on the other hand, is just sulking and needs to put the test hours in to get the car up the grid some. It's not the most exciting season though and I'm bored of hearing about double-diffusers.
Watching Formula One around the world isn't cheap, of course, Monaco, rather surprisingly, the cheapest for standing areas, the grass verges high on the hill totally free. The Prince subsidizes places for the locals in his kingdom and only the seating areas are pay. It cost about twenty quid to stand when were there in the mid nineties although there's a lot of messing around to get in and out of the principality.
The Australian GP in Adelaide was very cheap considering and set me back about £45 quid for a two day pass in 1992. The access was superb and the support races and things to do very good. The only other race I have seen on my travels is Barcelona and that was more expensive, around £95, although well worth it to be in and around that stunning city. We all know how beautiful those Spanish girls are.
With nine races to go I may do one race if Button can win it as I am very patriotic and was there when Hill and Mansell were crowned champions. But what I do know is F1 needs to change as it's very boring and unless we have a figure-of-eight track (without a bridge) then I'm ready to give up on it...
Withe the Grand Prix season approaching fast many of us dedicated followers are preparing for the exicitment of racing. I have attending the British GP for 5 years - and with ever increasing prices this year i have decided not to save my money up for this event - and stay at home instead. I am a dedicated fan, i never miss a race or qualifying session and always look forward to actually seeing the cars in action, but £300 for a general admission on race day - you must be joking. I can go to the Australian GP for £40 for all 3 days, or even to Monaco for less than half that amount. Although F1 generates large amounts of interests i do not believe that the general public, the people to which many advertising companies are promoting their goods to should be penalised for the high level of interest. This is also occuring in many top flight sports - football and rugby for an example also charge high prices for grandstand seats. With these increasing prices , attendances will become lower, and the TV can offer a much better view of any sporting activity - but soon enough we will be paying over the odd prices for this service as well
There is nothing to compare with the thrill of attending a Formula One race live. Television rarely does the circuits, cars, speed and spectacular noise justice. I have been fortunate enough to attend a number of races at circuits ranging from the pitiful to the palatial. In that time I have found out, often the hard way, that there's a certain amount of dedicated planning needed to make your day or weekend at the races as successful as possible. I hope by sharing some of these hints and tips with you it will help you to attend races in some level of organization! Organization is the key to attending Grand Prixs, or indeed any motor race. You will see some people who approach the track as if taking part in a military operation. This approach may be a little extreme but do remember you are going to be at the track for a long time and the car fumes can only make you oblivious to so much! In the beginning... ------------------------ Whether attending a race home or abroad the first thing to get sorted are tickets. On no account assume you can turn up to any race on the day without tickets. The majority of races sell out well in advance of the actual race day, many races being sold out months in advance. You have a number of options on buying tickets. Firstly, direct from the circuit. A full list of circuit website links and contact numbers can be found at a number of locations including the official FIA website at www.fia.com, many of the Formula One related websites such as www.planet-f1.com and www.atlas.com . Many circuits will offer a secure internet purchasing system as well as by phone and mail. Do be aware that circuits will often send out tickets very close to the actual date of the race. I have received tickets less than a week before the raceday. This can be extremely troublesome if you are planning to travel to an event a few days beforehand. I strongly suggest you go for the e
xtra option of having tickets sent by registered post as a safeguard. You may also want to confirm a latest date of arrival with the booking office. If you think you will be unable to get your post it is worth investigating whether you can pick up tickets at the circuit booking office or other area. Tickets are sent out so close to the date of the race to try and stop forgeries circulating. And I will say straight off - be very cautious of ticket touts and buy from them at your peril - not to be recommended. Another way to purchase tickets are through specialist ticket agencies which often sell a wide range of sporting and entertainment event tickets. A list of ticket agencies can be found in many of the motor racing magazines and publications as well as the national press. You will find these ticket agencies have a booking fee which can be highly variable from agency to agency. Make sure you confirm the full cost of the transaction before deciding. As with buying from the circuit direct confirm the class of postage that the tickets will be sent by and try to confirm a latest date you can expect your tickets to arrive by. When buying from a ticket agency do check their credentials and any membership of official bodies. Many spectators are happier buying race tickets for a foreign race from a British based ticket agency. I have used a ticket agency before and was very satisfied with the service I received though since those days I have connected to the internet and may be tempted to book tickets direct in future with the circuit. Travel companies. There are a number of travel companies that specialise in tours to Grand Prixs both home and abroad. There are also a number of regional British companies who offer tours to the British Grand Prix, offering coach travel from pick up points around the country. Two popular motor racing tour companies include Page and Moy, and Airtrack - two companies which I have used in the past. These tra
vel companies often sell whole packages to races including travel, accommodation and tickets. Personally I was disappointed with this service for my own needs but feel it is more helpful if I present you with the pros and cons of such tours: Pros: ------ The great advantage of such companies is they will arrange the whole show for you. This is particularly worth considering if you are travelling to a foreign race you have not attended before. Travel to and from your accommodation to the race track is provided but do check there isn't any extra cost for travel to qualifying days. Travel companies will often arrange additional excursions to local motor racing interests such as museums. You are with a group of like minded people, especially good if you are travelling alone. Many tours often run a sweepstake which helps add to the atmosphere. Cons: ----- You are restricted to the tour companies itinerary. This is especially worth noting if you wish to stay at the track to watch supporting races and the bus back leaves on the first lap! You may be on a bus full of other race fans but be aware if you support a team or driver against the consensus of the group you may not be popular. I have found the accommodation is often far away from the track meaning very early starts and late returns. Do ask for the travel time to the track as I have found these companies rarely print them in their brochures. I was once faced with an 1hr 20mins bus ride to the track everyday in Belgium. The tours are often much more expensive than if you organized a trip by yourself. I found I could arrange a two week holiday taking in the Portuguese GP once for the same price a travel company charged for a four day trip. I know where I'll buy my tickets from but which ones do I get? ----------------------------------------- This takes careful consideration. Nearly al
l circuits have a range of tickets which give you anything from General admission to Paddock Club luxury. Many of us have to choose tickets on the basis of money. Grand Prix races are not cheap, especially not the British Grand Prix. The majority of race tracks have the following band of tickets. General admission: these tickets get you through the door and then it is a scramble to find a viewing spot often on grass banks. These are the cheapest tickets. You will need to get to the track in good time to ensure you bag a good spot. Enclosure tickets: Some circuits have enclosures on popular spectator areas, the quality of which can vary greatly. The enclosure may literally be a closed off area of bank or may be landscaped into 'earth/concrete stepped grandstands'. Note you don't get a numbered seat in these areas. Colour coded tickets: A mix of the above two, these are often found at foreign tracks. Different colour codes of tickets get you to different parts of the track as either a general admission or into coded enclosures. You may also find some tracks sell color coded grand stand tickets which give you access to different grandstands around the track. Grandstands: Be aware when buying grandstand tickets for foreign races you may not necessarily get an allocated seat. Even if you have an allocated seat don't be surprised to find someone else sat in it, refusing to move! Before purchasing your Grandstand tickets check whether the grandstand is covered or not. Not a lot of point buying a grandstand in the hope it'll keep off the sun/rain only to find there's no roof! Grandstand tickets are the most expensive tickets bar hospitality. Three or two day tickets: If you are going for the weekend be sure to check all the weekend ticket offers. Centre transfers: a number of tracks offer tickets which take you into the centre of the track which may or may not give you a g
ood view of the back of the paddock. Before buying these tickets remember to consider if you'll actually use them - sounds obvious I know but you would be amazed how many people buy them for a Sunday but never go into the centre as once they get their spot they cannot leave it. Hospitality/Paddock Club: Now we're talking parting with £1000 onwards. Particularly popular at Monaco, hospitality tickets don't so much ensure the best views but do ensure luxury meals and certain privileges such as pit lane walkabouts, dedicated enclosures. So there's your choice and consider the following factors. It's going to be a long day and who knows what the weather will be like. If you have a long journey home could you face that after the bustle of General admission. Would it be wiser to be in a covered grandstand to try and offset some of the fatigue, possible sunstroke/soaking or could you go General admission and maybe stay over night before setting home. Tickets at the ready, how do I get there? ----------------------------------------- Try to plan this as much in advance as possible. A good road map that shows all the little winding roads that inevitably lead up to race tracks is a good investment. Read the guff that comes with your tickets and check the circuits websites - do they put special routes in place? There's no point planning to drive up the main street if it's closed off. Check in advance if there will be a car parking fee or a park and ride scheme in operation. Make a note of which car park you are in and whereabouts you are parked - many an hour has been wasted playing hunt the car! If you are using public transport contact the companies to ask for a timetable and definite pick up/drop off times and locations. Will you have a trek to the circuit from the bus stop/railway station - are there shuttle buses laid on and are they free or not. This is particularly
important if you are attending a foreign race for the first time. If you hire a car it is imperative you have a good map and idea of where you are heading. If you are using public transport it is worth contacting the tourist office for details. You cannot beat personal recommendation and experience - check out dooyoo, have any of us been before and found the pitfalls for you? Check out the message boards on the F1 related sites - you'll often find someone who knows the score there. A word of warning about taxis. They are great for getting to circuits though often overpriced - agree a fixed price in advance but remember getting back again isn't that easy! Traffic jams often mean taxis can't return to the circuit for more than one pick up. If you use taxis find out in advance where the ranks will be at the end of the race. You may arrange with a taxi firm to collect you but in the melee of a GP crowd leaving do not be surprised if they can't get through, you can't find them or they take the first person who offers them above the going rate instead. Do get to the circuit as early as possible - traffic jams form in no time at all and there's nothing more annoying than being half a mile from the track, able to hear the cars, stuck in a jam (and usually bursting for a wee by this point). I'm at the circuit, what now? ----------------------------- Go armed with a circuit map. The official programme will have a circuit map and information in it but they are often ridiculously expensive. My hint? Print a circuit map off the internet before you go - even better print a few off so you can all have one. If you get split up arrange a place to meet up and mark it on your map. Have a good look at the map beforehand to get your bearings and know where the important things are such as the information kiosks, food, toilets and first aid station. I want to look gorgeous, what shall I wear?
------------------------------------------- Leave the glamour look to the pitlane babes! Motor racing isn't Ascot though a sun/rain hat isn't a bad idea so treat yourself to your team's baseball cap as you are going to be exposed to the elements for a good while. Sensible shoes - I should like a mother I know. Many trips to a Grand Prix can be confused with a mountain trek and don't expect nice smooth pathways. I would not be surprised to find a spectator from 1975 still wandering the forest paths of Spa in Belgium, looking for the toilets. Many circuit paths are nothing more than dirt, stones and grit. 'Ah, I'll wear my best trainers' you say. Well remember if it's wet and muddy they will be ruined. Comfort but not precious is the name of the game. Check the weather forecast beforehand - but never believe it all. Lightweight layers are your best bet - you don't want to be lumbering round a huge coat or going to buy one if you only turn up in a crop top. If the weathers looking iffy some waterproofs are a good idea especially waterproof trousers if you are going general admission. Okay so you won't look like a sex god(dess) but at least you'll be dry! I can 'weather' anything though. -------------------------------- I don't care how much of an adventurer you reckon you are - sunscreen and lipsalve are a must! Even on the cloudiest of race days you'd be surprised how many people come back looking like a lobster from either the sun or wind. A lipsalve and small moisturiser are well worth the bag space if you want to return in comfort. Do I need a suitcase for all this stuff? ---------------------------------------- Well not quite, I'm not advocating taking the kitchen sink but I will say 'go prepared'. Take a bag or rucksack that's comfortable to carry - remember there'll be no running
back and forwards to the car. Make sure your essentials such as money and tickets are safe. I know a lot of people have bumbags or inside pockets for their money, credit cards etc. Be especially aware if you are taking a camera. It's a sad fact that some people there will be more intent on getting their hands on your valuables (stop sniggering I didn't mean that!) but be aware and you will be okay. Here's my top essentials for your bag: -Tickets - well duh! -Money - I'll discuss that in a bit more detail later. -Sunscreen/moisturiser/lipsalve - as I described above. -Toilet paper/tissues - you expect there to still be toilet paper in the afternoon - as if! -Hairbrush - if you have hair of course. If not see the part about sunscreen and hats! -Elastoplasts - even with your most comfy shoes - expect blisters. -Medications - don't forget any medications you might need such as inhalers and antihistamines. -Bottle of water - remember to drink. Sounds obvious but I find you can get so carried away with the day you forget the simplest of things! -Boiled sweets -Wet ones/hand wipes -Pen/Paper -Ear plugs. -Glasses/Sunglasses/Contacts - remember your sunglasses, F1 isn't as good if you have to squint. Spare glasses or contacts are also worth taking - you don't want to spend all that money only to see a blur not due to speed but due to losing a contact! Some other things to consider in your bag: -Mobile phone/list of numbers - no-one has ever arranged to meet someone at a track and it gone to plan I swear! Mobile phones are great, especially if you get split up or need to call home. Yes they can be annoying if they are going off every five minutes and there's nothing worse than standing next to someone screaming down the phone to everyone he's every met "I'm at Silverstone. SILVERSTONE.
SIL-VER-STONE". Use wisely :o) -Pen and paper/Autograph book - you'd be surprised who you bump into at races. Drivers past, present and future, actors, singers. You may also meet some news friends, maybe even the love of your life - get their number! -Camera/Film - Don't forget your camera. Unless you have a great zoom lens and high shutter speed don't waste your film trying to get photos of the car. Make sure you take spare film - it's often overpriced at circuits if you can find it all. -Radio/mini-tv - At foreign races you cannot guarantee an English speaking broadcast but if your language skills are good you may get by. -Batteries - for the phone, camera, radio etc. -Fold away chair - you can get some superb lightweight fold away chairs now which are worth taking if you are going general admission. -Groundsheet - something to sit on if the grounds damp. When I read your 'My Experience of Attending a Grand Prix' opinion I don't want to hear about how it gave you piles! -Breakdown card - if you belong to one of the breakdown services make sure you have all your details, many a car has a hissy fit after being in the queues to get in and out of the circuit. -Flags - show your support but remember putting up a flag the size of a bedsheet won't endear you to your spectating neighbours. -More toilet paper - well you can never be too sure?. What about food and drink? -------------------------- Good question. I definitely recommend you have a bottle of water or drink with you. It's all too easy to get dehydrated at these events. Be aware the price and quality of food varies greatly from track to track. Check the circuit map beforehand and see if it lists the food outlets - at places such as Spa and Hockenheim you can be a long way from the stalls. At many races I have found the choice to be nothing short of dir
e - to this day I do not know what it was they were selling at Hungaoring but it wasn't going near my stomach! If you decide to take food with you it will probably be impractical to take a cool box - remember you have to carry it around all day but if you are taking food with you make sure its safe. No point taking pate in your overheating bag not unless the thought of food poisoning attracts you. Crisps and biscuits are the staple diet. Silverstone has a good range of food outlets catering from everything from sandwiches to baked potatoes. Tempting to have a few beers but remember about dehydrating, it's easy to forget just how much you are drinking at the races and are you driving home afterwards? It's worth remembering that what track catering there is will often be subject to ridiculously long queues and if you are general admission and have found your spot you want to leave it as little as possible. It may be worth taking some space saving provisions. I've got money, I want to spend, spend, spend. -------------------------------------- Hello, my names BizzyB and I'm an F1 merchanise-oholic. Go with caution - listen to one who has been there, bought that. It is wise to leave the credit cards at home unless you have an iron will. Take a set amount of money and stick to it! Make sure your money is safe and always have a back up fund just in case. You will find that the merchandise stalls are located in one area of the track - out with the circuit map again. These areas can get very crowded and with people milling about with their wallets be extra away of your belongings for the light-fingered brigade will be patrolling this area with glee. The range of merchandise stalls depends on the race you are attending. When I attended Belgium and Hungary there were very few stalls and they were placed behind the grandstands well away from general admission areas. At Sil
verstone the main merchandise area is to the north of the circuit - a bit of a trek if you are sat down at Stowe. In Germany the merchandise stalls behind the stadium complex went on?and on?.and on. The choice can be staggering and very tempting. But think twice before buying big things. Check to see if they do mail order, it may cost a little more but you can have time to think about it. Otherwise you may find yourself coming away a few hundred pounds poorer thinking 'do I really want a lime green puffa jacket, red tank top and porcelain figurine'. If you are there just on race day you may not get to the stalls for the crowds and marking your territory which can be a blessing in disguise. Remember - what you buy, you have to carry around all day. What about taking the children, they'll love it. ---------------------------------------- Taking children to a race sounds great on paper, doesn't it? They sit and watch it on tv and love it. Well sometimes in reality it's not so hot and depends greatly on the temperament and ages of your wee ones. Some circuits have creches. There may be a maximum time you can palm the little ones off here and a fee. Always check the credentials of the place - are they securely kept in, is there enough staff, will you worry like hell whilst they're there? A few circuits have a children's play areas but remember someone has to monitor them. You won't be to pleased if you miss the cars trying to prise little sweety off the swings. It can be a long and tiring day for children of any age, but especially the very young. You will be at the circuit early, run the risk of traffic jams and are at the mercy of the weather. With this in mind it may be worth spending the extra on allocated seats in a covered grandstand. This way you are sheltered from the weather and free to take them out without fear of losing your viewing spot. If you
take children with you be doubly sure to take the essentials I mentioned above, especially sunscreen, hats and ear protectors. For child ear protection I suggest the protected ear muff style defenders not ear plugs. Wow the race was great, I'm off home now. ----------------------------------------- Leaving the race can be a right royal battle. A few tens of thousands of people all aiming for the same exits -eek! Make sure you have all your belongings. It's worth packing everything together as the warm-up lap starts before your mind is taken over with the excitement of the race. If you have a long journey back it may be worth starting to make your way back to the car about 8 laps from the end. 'Hang on' I hear you cry, 'I haven't spent all that money to miss the end'. Believe me at the majority of circuits (I'm taking Silverstone as my norm here) you'll just make the outskirts of the car park as they cross the finishing line and still be within tannoy distance. If you have a long journey home it is a wise decision to make this choice to try and get to the car park exits as soon as possible. As an example I told my friend to do this but oh no he wouldn't. I left the circuit just short of the end and was back home by 8.30pm ready for the highlights and the few hundred mile journey a fading memory. My friend at 8.30pm was still in the brown car park?.. If getting on the road isn't your main priority or you cannot bear to miss the bitter end be prepared for some congestion. Back to sounding like mother but make sure you go to the loo before setting back, make sure you've got some food and drink in the car and get yourself comfortable as possible - ditch the sodden clothes/slap on the moisturiser. If you're not returning under your own steam the same rules apply - be prepared for long queues for public transport. If you are staying/camping overni
ght and you are prepared to sit back and let the throng go, why not! I hope that about covers all eventualities. Attending races live is a thrilling event I would recommend to anyone. There is a buzz, an atmosphere which has to be experienced to believed. I hope my tips and hints help you to get the most out of your Grand Prix visit. If there's anything you think I've missed or want to ask me about please leave a comment and I will try my best. Happy racing :o)
I did not think we were going to go to the Grand Prix until I had the tickets in my hand. This was partly due to the fact that I was, to coin a phrase, dead excited and but mostly because we had been waiting for them for about 6 weeks. First of all we tried to get tickets over the internet and this was the main reason we had been waitng so long. Bear in mind that we only received the tickets four days before race day. Our demands were not so great, we only wanted the cheap (I was going to say "cheap seats" but being poor au pairs we could not afford any type of seat at all) AREA tickets. As bog standard as you can get. So I booked tickets through the net on a sight purely devoted to selling Grand Prix tickets (I shall not give them the benefit of having their site named because quite frankly they were awful). we were supposed to receive an invoice and then we would be posted the tickets as soon as they were paid for. Soooooo, we waited and waited and waited and eventually I just resigned my self that we were not going to go. By this time it was one week before the race weekend and we had not heard a thing, not even an email to say that they did not have any tickets left. By good luck on Monday I mentioned our misfortune to my host mother who very diligently phoned around and managed to get hold of two Bronze tickets for Sunday 13 th May 2001 (I mention the date because it was my dear sisters 21st Birthday) from the Vekehrs Büro (they do travel and excursions throughout Austria). Hoorah success at last! They were so nice and trusting that they even sent the tickets which arrived on Wednesday without me paying for them first. They had also offered us seats on a coach that left at 8 O´clock on Sunday morning, therefore solving on of our other problems, how we were going to get there and how early in the morning we would have to get up (please God not the crack of dawn). If you buy the tickets direct then they only cost 13
00 ATS (about 65 quid), we paid 1450ATS which obviously included a service charge and on top of that 450 ATS (about 22 pounds) for the coach. So, Sunday morning and the coack picked us up from Vienna´s Südbahnhof at the leisurely time of 8am. We then had a three hour(ish) drive to Spielberg where it was held, in a coach with two Austrians, a gaggle of Swedish youths who got drunk and five Finns who looked a bit disheartened at Mikas´s performance. Susanna and I were being very patriotic and we kitted out in Union Jack Print top for me and a specially designed t-shirt bearing the names Mika and Kimi and a Finnish flag for Sussu. I believe us two girlies caused whispers when we got on the bus. The journey was very scenic and I am sure Sussu would have enjoyed it more had she not been asleep most of the way there..... We were dumped at the bottom of the track and trekked up to the large swathe of mountain where Bronze people like us were allowed to sit. A minor incident involving a bottle of wine (you are not allowed glass bottle in the circiut area) meant that we had to down a litre of orange juice and some of the wine (so that we could leave the glass bottle at the entrance) before we could go through. Looking back at it now I think it probably was not bets to drink the only non alcoholic drink we had before we got into the grounds....but ho hum. Before I wittle on any longer I would just like to point out that the scenery was wonderful and the weather about 30 degrees celcius. The circuit nestles at the bottom of the mountain side and bronze tickets get the best view offered, over the circuit and off to more mountains; some entertainment when nothing was happening! After face painting (Jenson and Coulthard and another Union Jack for me, Finnish flag for Sussu), we found a suitable place to sit where we could at least see some track without standing up and then settled down to wait fo the start. I ended up with my Union J
ack teatowel (I did not have a proper flag) tied around my head because of the heat, I looked a fool like normal but it obviously helped because our man David won. It was actually very difficult to tell what was going on because in the Bronze areas there are no screens and a small speaker that was completely useless against twenty-odd Formula One cars. Oh, another thing, the engines sound VERY strange in real life. They make a bizzarre sound when changing gear which lead us both to think that the engine was going to break down at any moment. On TV you just hear the revvs changing tone. I think the bit that dissapointed me most was the lack of atmosphere. The crowd were predominantly Tifosi and all seemed to wander off after it had finished, there was no energy and I appeared to be one of about three British fans there (went a bit loony at the end and nearly fell over). Still, we got to wander down the track at the end which was groovy and found our coach. I would do it again but somewhere where a non Ferrari driver can win and every one will be happy!
If this opinion seems a little negative, I apologise - as you will see, my views on Grand Prix spectating may have been slightly clouded by the fact that I spent 7 hours of my life waiting to see a Grand Prix while being caught in a spectacular sequence of storms... Imagine the scene - it's 8:00 on a dull, dreary and ridiculously windy Sunday morning. You've been up since around 1:30 a.m, owing to the fact that you live several hundred miles north of the Silverstone racetrack and would quite like to arrive in time to see the Grand Prix. You're on the A43, a couple of miles from the village of Silverstone, and a queue of cars stretches as far ahead as the eye can see. To top it all off, it's starting to rain, and you're being overtaken by people walking along the side of the road. This seems like a horror movie (a crap horror movie, but a horror movie all the same), but this was the start of my Grand Prix experience. You've stood in a torrential downpour watching Porsche Supercup cars spin on the straights, queued at the autograph fence waiting for drivers that didn't appear, left the fence to buy a cap just as Damon Hill showed up, and bought a hot dog with no obvious trace of meat. Luckily, none of that matters, because the main event is here - the British Grand Prix of 1998 (a bit out of date, I know, but Silverstone hasn't changed since then). Unfortunately, I'd already made one mistake by choosing the wrong place to stand. As I couldn't afford a grandstand seat and didn't want to walk too far, I'd stood on the inside of Copse corner. This is great if all you want to see is some cars going quickly for about a second, but it's not spectacular and all of the overtaking there happens a fraction of a second before the cars come into your sight. In order to enhance your racing experience, use a support race to find yourself a decent viewing place. The start looks and sounds amazing
. T.V screens can only capture so much of what happens, and speakers are completely inadequate for conveying the sensory assault that is 22 engines revving madly in front of you. If the rest of the race was up to that standard, you'd be laughing. To be fair, it can be - if you stare at the big screens all race. As this is just like watching the race on telly, it all seems slightly pointless. I saw no overtaking in front of me, could only see the cars for about two seconds and came away slightly narked that the highlight of my day was watching Nakano and Rosset drive into each other. The atmosphere was great though, with the cheering fans mixing neatly with the raucous screams of a Mercedes or a Ferrari engine passing a matter of yards from my feet. Ultimately, the biggest single disappointment of watching a Grand Prix from the heart of the action is that just over three years later, the biggest memory I have of July 12 1998 (which was, co-incidentally and completely irrelevantly, my 13th birthday) is standing in a drenched field on a dull Sunday afternoon, being blown everywhere by the wind and left soaked by what seemed like the contents of the North Sea, waiting in the desperate hope that I might get to see something exciting. Watching a Grand Prix at the circuit can probably be fantastic, depending on the track (I've heard Spa in Belgium given rave reviews), the weather and where on the track you've stationed yourself. The flip side is that if not all of the above factors are good (for example, if you're at boring, disorganised Silverstone, on the inside of Copse and in the middle of a typhoon), Grand Prix racing can be crushingly disappointing. It's difficult for me to review fairly, to be honest, as I've only visited one Grand Prix, but I've found Touring Cars and Champ Cars to be far more exciting, as the racing is always great, reagrdless of the conditions. I think I'll be toddling off to see some real racing
next year - Champ Cars on the oval at Rockingham.
Your advice and opinions on attending Grand Prix races.