So Little Time…So Much Racing to See.
How to Choose the Right Seat
Getting the most out of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch the GP on British soil means choosing the perfect spot to watch it from. The course was built on what was originally an airfield, so obviously, it’s quite flat. Web searches of where to sit at the track don’t quite yield the results you might like. You’ll have to look at track reviews for both car and motorcycle racing for other fans’ opinions, but then it’s still tricky to decide. General Admission seems a risky affair, as those more familiar with the area will grab the best spots first. I did notice a great big stretch of GA (I believe it was near Vale), but there were no concessions anywhere near it.
We chose GA for Saturday, because we knew we’d want to wander the track and see it from all sides. Saturday GA includes first-come-first-serve seating in most of the grandstands. In all of our exploring, I didn’t notice a single grandstand that had an expansive vantage point. It seems like every view would give just a small stretch of the track. (Please remember, we’re spoiled by the glorious hillside views of Laguna Seca.)
We chose Club Class Hospitality for Sunday’s main event. This spendy choice afforded us elevated views of both the fast approach from Vale and the bend around Club. The outside upper deck is actually a wide expanse and throughout the race you can go back and forth to watch from both sides. We were also able to walk downstairs and stand track-side right against the fence, giving us all the sounds and smells up close and personal. The disadvantage is that the hospitality wing is on the inside of the track (and there are very few bridges for crossing.) It’s an incredibly long walk around and once near the Wing, there are zero amenities or concessions available. Hospitality ran out of food at lunchtime, but I was told we hadn’t missed anything special. Being seated with other race fans gave us the opportunity to visit and make friends- one of whom has an open invite to join us in California for World Superbike.
There is a VIP courtesy shuttle available at one pickup point, but after the race, the drivers will randomly drop you off anywhere they choose, due to all the pedestrian traffic. (I believe they dropped us near Brooklands.)
The Hospitality tickets say that there’s a business casual dress-code, but it’s not enforced and only ½ the folks dressed up. We switched to shorts not long after arrival, due to the warm weather. Outside there is a jumbo monitor, but it didn’t seem to update rider position or even current lap data accurately. We basically tracked the rider’s standings from watching them fly by, so it’s still up to you to pay attention. Of course, there were a number of televisions broadcasting live inside the venue- but who wants to sit inside and watch it on tv when they’re right there?!
As far as choosing seats goes, I think it’s important to remember that there is no perfect spot. We obviously can’t see every pass, turn and victory like we do from the comfort of our couch. The live experience is what makes it special, and I think I’d rather pinch my pennies, skip the VIP, and find a pretty good grandstand seat for Sunday, and do GA on Saturday.
British GP Tickets go on sale usually in the fall and these seem to be the best prices available. The prices are still good at Christmas time and sometimes there’s even a special discount for Black Friday. It’s difficult to research the actual price per ticket type in advance, because the full website isn’t available yet. Basically, as soon as they go on sale, you can go nuts and start choosing your ticket type. If you must plan in advance, you can typically research the different seating that’s available for F1 (but note, F1 prices are incredibly inflated and don’t reflect GP ticketing prices.)
The tickets did not ship promptly. In fact, they didn’t begin sending tickets out until the end of June (2 months before event) and they posted they were hoping to have all of the tickets in the mail two weeks prior to the event. They mail them out based on who purchased tickets first, but they were waiting for the pretty brochures that come with hospitality packages to print. Being stateside, this was a HUGE concern for me (because we were travelling a week before the event.) They respond best to Twitter or Facebook, and they were able to quickly mail my GA and camping tickets and put my Sunday race tickets on hold at Will Call. BTW- Will Call is located at the very front main entrance to the track.
IF YOU PLAN TO CAMP:
If you intend to camp at the official track website you’ll need to purchase Friday through Sunday race tickets- they won’t let you in without them. If you purchase camping at the same time as your race tickets, apparently you can do it online.
In chatting with other GP attendees, we learned that some of the ticket packages offered by other companies have some great inclusions- like transportation, accommodations, dinners, cocktails and paddock passes available. It sounded as though some of these options might be quite reliable and cost effective. Having not tried it myself, I don’t want to post it, but feel free to ask us about it.
Silverstone began selling paddock passes in June or July. You could purchase them for 25 GBPs, and it gave you one-hour access on Saturday after qualifying. Fortunately, I read the reviews from previous attendees and didn’t waste my money. Apparently they sold too many tickets, the line to get in was too long and many of the garages were closed (because the teams have work to do.)
PAYING FOR TICKETS:
For some reason, my Capitol One credit card will not allow me to purchase anything from Silverstone. Every other online purchase works- but not Silverstone. I was so excited to purchase tickets, that I just used the first credit card that would process (and ended up paying an additional 15% in foreign transaction fees.) This is on top of the 25% non-refundable VAT fee that they must add to all tickets. Basically, these tickets will be expensive, so I suggest doing some research and find an international credit card that allows you to make transactions without a foreign transaction fee.
NEW SILVERSTONE HOSPITALITY:
Our hospitality was located in the Silverstone Wing, which they’re no longer offering for 2018. It was certainly the most affordable package available, but overlooked the former pit lane. Instead, they’ve built a new facility that overlooks the starting grid and Sunday-only prices for hospitality now start at 299GBP plus VAT fees, but they also include food, beverages and special parking passes.