Silverstone won't cut capacity
Circuit boss promises infrastructure upgrades to cope with future dire weather
Last Updated: 09/07/12 2:50pm
Silverstone chiefs won't consider cutting the capacity for the British Grand Prix in wake of the problems experienced at this year's event and have instead vowed to improve the venue's infrastructure to ensure there is no repeat of the traffic chaos in future.
The heavy and persistent rain that hit Northamptonshire venue on Thursday and throughout the opening practice day on Friday played havoc with Silverstone's crowd arrival measures as waterlogged campsites and car parks caused major delays getting fans onto the site and triggered miles of traffic jams on the A43 bypass, which is the main access road for the circuit.
With some fans already unable to get into the circuit in time to see Friday's practice sessions, later that evening Silverstone advised ticket holders with passes for the public car parks for Saturday's qualifying day to stay away completely so that organisers could repair the ground in order to accommodate the expected 125,000 crowd on race day.
Reflecting on the weekend's events on Sky Sports News the day after what ultimately proved a dry race on Monday in front of a near capacity crowd, Silverstone's Managing Director Richard Phillips insisted the Saturday stay-away plea had ultimately been critical to getting fans into the event on Sunday at all.
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"The decisions we had to make were very tough," he said. "But if we hadn't of made then yesterday wouldn't have gone ahead and that would have been catastrophic for the fans for the event and for the business."
Silverstone had increased its capacity for this year's race following the construction of new grandstands but asked if a consequence of the subsequent problems at the start of the weekend could prompt a rethink for 2013, Phillips replied: "No. We've maintained the capacity, we've increased it a bit recently, but basically we've managed the capacity over the last few years.
"In the future we'd love to be able to increase the capacity but as this weekend's proven there's got to be some good background grounds in place to be able to do that."
With the official Silverstone campsite, car parks and footpaths reduced to quagmires as the weekend progressed, fans camping into Sunday were advised to delay their exit from the venue until Monday to ease traffic congestion at the end of the race.
Speaking to Sky Sports News, fans on the campsites raised the issues of drainage and improved communication as areas for Silverstone to improve upon and Phillips confirmed organisers were aware of the areas that needed attention.
"There is plenty to reflect upon," he was quoted as saying by The Daily Telegraph. "We need to put more roadways in, we need to sort out the campsites, we have learned that the park and ride has been a massive success and we can build on that."
However, he added that success in circuit owner the British Racing Drivers' Club attempts to source external additional investment was key to further improvements.
"It (the weekend) makes it very important (to find new investment) but we have to get the right one," he added.
"The interest is there, these are very expensive places to run and having someone come in with some extra cash would be fantastic. It would enable us to do better things.
"We were in exclusivity with one particular party and that didn't work out, but the other people who were there prior to that are still there."