“A weekend like no other” – reviewing the 2022 British Grand Prix

Attending a Formula 1 race is the thing on everyone’s bucket list. To soak in the atmosphere, to take it all in. To live and breathe every second, to shout and scream as the action unfolds in front of your eyes.

Last weekend, I did just that, attending the 2022 British Grand Prix to celebrate my 30th birthday, which coincided with Friday’s first practice session.

And suffice to say, the weekend exceeded my wildest expectations.

Ticket prices – how do they compare to other events?

I purchased tickets to the Grand Prix at the end of January. £465.00 for the main ticket, and £75.00 for parking close to the circuit.

For one adult, the £465.00 gave me a seat at The View (turn 1) for Sunday, and the ability to roam around the circuit (including grandstands, subject to availability) on Friday and Saturday.

In addition, the ticket gives you access to the extras that Silverstone put on for fans through the weekend: no added fees to see the likes of Example, Sam Ryder and Mabel perform, nor to see The F1 Show on Thursday, or the F1 drivers on the main stage.

However, £465.00 did not give me access to the inner section of the circuit, or the F1 paddock. I would say the ticket is medium range on the premium tier: does not give you access to everything, but enough to enjoy the whole weekend’s entertainment.

Comparisons with other sports are apple and oranges.

In the Premier League, a Manchester City season ticket to see their 19 home games during the 22/23 season will cost an adult anywhere between £445.00 and £1,450.00, which per game is between £23.42 and £76.32, much cheaper than the Silverstone F1 tickets.

For me, this argument depends on how you view your ticket. If you view it as just watching a 90-minute Grand Prix, you are going to feel that the price is extortionate.

But, if you view it as a whole weekend of entertainment from Thursday through to Sunday, for nearly 12 hours each day, then you may feel that the price is reasonable. As way of comparison, tickets for this year’s Glastonbury music festival cost £280.00 across the board.

Silverstone would argue that, if the demand is there, which it very clearly is, then there is no need to consider reducing ticket prices to make it more affordable, because fans are prepared to pay the higher prices.

Amplifying the F1 brand

Before I even stepped foot through Silverstone’s gates on Thursday, what was abundantly clear was that the F1 brand was very ‘in your face’. Everywhere you looked, the F1 logo was there.

F1 Experiences, F1 Paddock Club, F1 Fanatics, F1 Manager, F1 Caps, F1 Store, F1 Fan Zone, the list goes on and on.

Some of the F1 Store branding, featuring Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton.

The branding was present around the track, whether we are talking front and centre by the main stage, or the other end of the circuit at the Club. Even behind Copse, there were mini pop-up F1 Fanatics stores trying to sell the latest F1 team gear.

Across the different pillars, the brand was uniform, as one. 5 years on, the old F1 logo, which some fans still had on their merchandise, looks terribly outdated. The logo and branding, which Liberty Media unveiled at the end of 2017, fits in, and feels right.

Each team did not have their own bespoke merchandise store, that I saw at least. Instead, F1 presented this all under one umbrella. Wanted to buy a McLaren t-shirt or a Red Bull hat? All done through the F1 Fanatics branding.

It highlighted to me the power of the F1 brand: 10 teams, 20 racers, under one roof. It also highlighted why Andretti coming in as an 11th outfit is unlikely, because in F1’s view, a new outfit is unlikely to add new value to the sport.

There were other little things going on around the track which made the event special: a mural created by MurWalls celebrated the life of Sir Frank Williams.

Also present in the F1 Fan Zone was a MotoGP store, promoting the MotoGP ’22 video game. Having attended MotoGP at Silverstone in media capacity for 5 of the past 6 seasons, Silverstone this past weekend was on another level.

No one is suggesting that MotoGP will attract 140,000 fans to Silverstone. But the brand needs a reset as it is feeling tired compared to F1, and the launch of their (now seemingly axed) Amazon Prime series has not gone according to plan.

The weekend schedule worked

One aspect MotoGP could look to modernise is the weekend scheduling. Instead of wrapping up the European action at 15:00 local home, why not extend the action into the early evening?

Sitting at home, I have previously criticised the F1 scheduling for not being tight enough, whereas attending at the circuit, you want the weekend to breathe, with ample time to move between sessions.

Friday breathed fine, with a nice gap for lunch between 11:30 and 13:00 local time. The on-action began at 08:40 and finished at 20:05, continuing to 22:00 for the music (admittedly the long shifts are relentless for those working the event, though).

Saturday was tighter, and this is where views on the W Series differ. From a broadcasting perspective, the timing is W Series’ dream slot. Placed between F1 practice and F1 qualifying on Saturday, the series attracted a record UK audience across Channel 4 and Sky Sports, giving those on the armchair no reason to move from their sofa.

At the circuit, the story was different. Starting 25 minutes after F1 practice and finishing an hour before F1 qualifying, it was the only time during the weekend that the fans around me in the grandstand (in this case, at Becketts) looked disinterested.

Sam Rynder performing Space-Man during the British Grand Prix post-race concert.

There was a lot of grandstand movement during the race as people wanted to move around to get the best vantage point before F1 qualifying, take a comfort break or grab some food.

The takeaway from my perspective is that a perfect weekend schedule simply does not exist: instead, it is balancing the needs of the circuit, the championship, and the broadcasters and trying to come up with a solution that satisfies all parties.

Seeing the Porsche Supercup cars on Sunday morning was a nice change from having seen single-seaters all weekend up until that point and a nice breather before the Grand Prix.

The gap between the end of the support series and the F1 race was long, but went by incredibly quickly. Probably helped that I spent what felt like an eternity queuing for a comfort break…

Motor sport is dangerous. The ticket does not lie.

Since 2014, I have been to Silverstone more times than I can count at this point for both MotoGP and the World Endurance Championship, so knew where best to go to see the single-seaters at full pelt.

Sadly, the vantage point on the entry of Becketts was non existent for the F1, instead covered by advertising hoardings, a real shame. Nevertheless, I did see the F1 cars fly through Copse at terrifyingly fast speeds that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

I took advantage of the roaming grandstands as well, sitting in most of the covered grandstands. Unfortunately, and one of the other frustrations of the weekend, the stands on the start-finish straight were ‘full’ half an hour before qualifying.

By ‘full’, the Race Makers refused to let anyone else in, even though there were empty seats because fans had reserved them in advance. I understand why, but in the moment, it was frustrating, as rain lashed down towards the start of qualifying.

Earlier in the weekend, I spotted an F1 camera lurking nearby, and made a note of the specs. The cost of one camera set up alone is more than £50,000.

Not cheap, and once you add up all the cameras and associated materials, you quickly realise how expensive an F1 broadcast costs to produce an air. An article for another day, I suspect…

As well as watching The F1 Show on Thursday (itself generating a packed grandstand on the start-finish straight!), I eyed up my turn 1 seat at The View, imagining all the scenarios that may unfold three days later. Will I see Charles and Max side-by-side? Will Lewis get in on any of the action?

A still frame of the first corner accident, moments before Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu hits the catch fence.

I did not imagine the scenario that unfolded: Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu heading towards the fencing with little sign of slowing down. Zhou’s car connected with the catch fencing, which in turn caused the grandstand to shake for a split second given the forces involved.

Stones and rubble flew up into the grandstand, as high as me on row M and beyond. Everyone around me, including myself, were visibly shook up, all checking on each other in the immediate aftermath.

From my vantage point, we could not see the car and it was unclear exactly where Zhou’s car had landed. Race Makers and other officials in the grandstand were holding up “Sit Down” signs while the medical team worked on Zhou on. To hear that Zhou was okay was a major relief.

The restart, and the rest of the race was awesome. The action was superb, and the atmosphere was second to none. After this weekend, I am of the firm view that there is nothing better than being there in person.

The big screen from my seat was not great, as the text was too small. If anything, the screen needed to be more bespoke, rotating the positions in sequences of 5 potentially instead of focusing on the entire order (others around me had binoculars, a lesson for next time).

As for the lack of Sprint? I did not miss it. The weekend naturally reached a crescendo, and the Sprint in my view would have diluted from that aspect of it.

“I’m up in Space…”

I mentioned earlier that the added extras are free, and I took full advantage on Thursday and Sunday. The F1 Show was brilliant from the main grandstand on Thursday, but the highlight was undoubtedly Sunday.

A friend recommended Alfie Templeman to me, and Alfie looked like he enjoyed every moment on the Main Stage.

Afterwards, it was Eurovision sensation Sam Ryder, who was out of this world, beyond my wildest expectations. If my voice was going after the sensational Leclerc-Perez-Hamilton battle in the closing stages, it had totally gone after hearing Space Man live!

A brief break followed, before Lewis Hamilton and Roscoe took to the main stage in what was an all-round cool moment, which wrapped up the Silverstone weekend – and my 30th birthday celebrations – for me.

Will I be back next year? Absolutely. My thinking is to go for the Inner Track option. Media accreditation is tricky with F1 unfortunately, but I am always hopeful things can change.

The British Grand Prix would not be possible if it was not full the wonderful volunteers, Race Makers, marshals, and everyone else involved who put this show on the road. The overall organisation throughout the weekend was faultless from my vantage point.

It would be amiss not to thank those who have been relentless on their pursuit of safety in motor sport over the decades: the advances saved two lives, and potentially countless more, yesterday. To all those involved: thank you.

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7 thoughts on ““A weekend like no other” – reviewing the 2022 British Grand Prix

  1. Thanks for your article, David – really interesting to read. You were fortunate with it being the best race of the season so far (excepting Zhou’s accident..

  2. Fantastic read I really enjoyed it. Shows why your work on the Motorsport Broadcasting Blog is so unique and important. Great to get some insight into the track attendee perspective.

  3. Thanks for the article, as I have been self isolating with covid I’m glad that I did not get tickets for this year’s event however I have been in previous years and I am pleased to see that the improvements at Silverstone are actually working, you cannot beat sitting in a Grandstand with close racing on the track for atmosphere and the off track events are amazing now.

  4. Interesting read – well done. What you didn’t make clear was just how easy it was to follow the race – always my concern with attending a race.

    1. Cheers 👍🏻 The up front battles were fine, more difficult further down the order. Remember that you’re there were lots of others around you all enjoying the same thing – chances are if you haven’t spotted something, the person next to you has 😊

  5. Love the blog as always, David.

    Just a point to note about the RaceMakers (I have been one since 2014, though didn’t attend this year) – they are all volunteers and are worked incredibly hard by the Silverstone team. Many people seem to think we are paid. That’s not the case, and refusal into grandstands is not at our say so, but Silverstone operations.

    The other point is that access to the inside of the circuit is strictly controlled as FOM essentially have the run of the place. Even Silverstone staff are chucked out for the event.

    That’s why no access is ever provided to the public at the BGP weekend. WEC, for example, is markedly different.

    1. Thanks Bradders, understand both points totally. 👍🏻 Think the RaceMakers did an excellent job through the weekend, my point wasn’t intended to be critical of them, merely writing down ‘this was my view point’ kinda thing.

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