Silverstone promises to learn lessons after traffic chaos
|By Jonathan Noble||Monday, July 9th 2012, 10:55 GMT|
Silverstone chiefs believe some good will come out of the traffic chaos that marred the British Grand Prix weekend, because it has highlighted areas where improvements can be made next year.
Race organisers had to take the unprecedented step of advising some fans not to attend the qualifying day because of fears it could destroy car parks that were required for the 125,000 race fans on Sunday.
That decision was taken when problems with water-logged campsites and car parks led to a breakdown of the traffic system, leaving some fans unable to get to the track at all after queuing for several hours.
Richard Phillips, Silverstone's managing director, said that a detailed investigation would be undertaken to look at what went wrong, and what steps need to be taken for next year to ensure there is no repeat if bad weather hits again.
"There is plenty to reflect on," explained Phillips. "The biggest challenge is to sort out the camp sites properly and have spare capacity. It works fine when the weather is great, but when the weather is not and people come in caravans and camper vans, which don't sit particularly well on grass [compared to tents], then all the campsites close up shop.
"It is not their fault, but that just means there are thousands of campers out there who are just drifting around. We have got to avoid doing that again, and that is one of the biggest lessons.
"We have to put more roadways in, and do what we can to preserve car parking. I think Park and Ride has been a massive success, as we knew we had to go more in that direction and people now probably think it is a good idea. There are lessons to be learned and maybe some good will come out of it as well."
Phillips even suggests that the successful Sunday - when the 125,000 capacity crowd made it to the track with little trouble – owed much to the fact that Silverstone had been forced to keep people away on Saturday.
"We had to make some very hard decisions after Friday and I think they were the right decisions to keep some away on Saturday," he said. "Had we had a good Friday, we might not have made that decision and we might have wrecked race day. So it may have worked for us in a bizarre way."
Phillips estimates that there were 10,000 fans who heeded advice not to attend qualifying, which was enough to ensure the car parks were ready for race day.
And he revealed that despite the traffic problems, Silverstone sold £40,000 worth of tickets for the 2013 British GP on the Friday.