British GP organisers going 'extra mile' for F1 fans
|By Jonathan Noble||Wednesday, May 1st 2013, 14:32 GMT|
British Grand Prix bosses have promised fans that they have done all they can to try and ensure there is no repeat of the weather-affected troubles that hit last year's race.
But they admitted on Thursday that it may take more success from Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button to secure a race-day sellout again.
Silverstone had to deter fans from attending qualifying at the 2012 British GP after freak weather conditions flooded car parks and campsites.
The move to keep spectators away allowed the circuit to keep its infrastructure intact for race day, which duly took place in front of a record 127,000 crowd.
Although such unusual climatic conditions are unlikely to hit the British GP for a second year in succession, Silverstone is taking nothing for granted.
It has invested heavily in drainage, campsite expansion and transport solutions to do all it can for this year's race on June 28-30 passes trouble free.
Silverstone managing director Richard Phillips said during a media event at the track on Thursday that Silverstone was as ready as it could be.
"What happened last year was unprecedented," said Phillips. "We had 10 years before that of reasonable weather conditions and great grands prix - so we need to keep things in proportion.
"But nevertheless, we cannot rest on our laurels. What happened to us last year was a wake-up call and we have had to put a lot of measures in place to ensure that people have a good time in 2013."
"We learned last year that we have got to go the extra mile. Those sorts of weather conditions, freak as hopefully they were, you cannot tell these days can you?
"So it could happen again – and obviously what we had in place before did not cope with it, so we have spent a lot of time and effort on it [to make sure it does this time]."
TICKET SALES DOWN SO FAR
The weather troubles last year have left some fans reluctant to commit early to buying tickets for the 2013 race, and Philips admitted that sales were down on 12 months ago.
However, he said that was not unexpected because of the weather, Sebastian Vettel's ongoing success and the fact neither Lewis Hamilton nor Jenson Button have won a race so far this year.
"Different factors affect every event. If you take MotoGP, the year before last you had a wet year and last year not many people turned up – plus there was no [Valentino] Rossi.
"Last year  was good weather, so this year with Rossi coming back and other good riders, the sales have gone up.
"What you are seeing now in F1 is a combination of what happened last year with the weather, and probably – controversially – you have Vettel doing a bit too well consistently.
"So ticket sales are not as good as they were last year, but they are not drastic. We could do with some help."
When asked if a lift in results for Hamilton and Button would provide that assistance, BRDC president Derek Warwick said: "If Lewis Hamilton or Jenson Button started winning from Barcelona, it would make a massive difference."
SILVERSTONE STILL CHASING INVESTORS
Silverstone's owners, the British Racing Drivers' Club, have not yet concluded an agreement with potential investors about a long-term lease deal that will help push it towards its 'Masterplan' transformation – but are hopeful that a deal can be concluded this year.
BRDC chairman Stuart Rolt said that the worldwide economic slowdown had impacted on Silverstone's chances of finding the right partner – and that the situation was further complicated by the fact that keeping motor racing at the Northamptonshire track was essential.
"The investment process has been going on a long time and it has been frustrating for us," said Rolt.
"We have something pretty special to offer people, but we have had a thing called the recession. Land and investment in property has become really tough – and outside London it is really tough. We have learned that.
"We are also very fussy about speaking to people who will maintain high level motor racing at Silverstone.
"We cannot be surrounded by, or in the hands of, property developers who will take that characteristic away from Silverstone."
He added: "We would like to get something done this year."