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Rain chaos at Silverstone for 2012 British GP
Heavy rain is causing chaos at Silverstone – with as many as 30,000 tickets holders for the 2012 British Grand Prix being told to stay away.
The trouble started ahead of free practice on Friday. So much rain fell over the Silverstone area that the circuit’s unsurfaced parking areas quickly became unusable.
This in turn brought the surrounding roads – particularly large sections of the A43 – to a complete standstill, leaving thousands of Formula 1 fans stuck in their cars for hours, unable to get to the track.
Many of those who did make it to the circuit had to be rescued by tractors due to the muddy conditions, which have also closed several of the surrounding camp sites.
In an effort to rescue the situation ahead of the Grand Prix itself on Sunday, Silverstone has severely restricted parking for Saturday qualifying – to the extent where all the useable parking spaces were occupied by 9am.
Fans are now being turned away from the circuit. According to Silverstone spokeswoman, Katie Tyler, speaking to BBC Radio 5 live, this is being done “in the interests of safety”.
This is likely to impact as many as 30,000 people; the cost of their tickets will be refunded. A decision about whether fans will be able to use the car parks on Sunday, when 125,000 are set to attend, will be made by mid afternoon.
Silverstone’s managing director Richard Phillips has “unreservedly” apologised for the chaos, which is being compared to the notorious race in 2000 where the car parks also became flooded and muddy. At the time this was blamed on the switch in event timing from July to Easter.
The damage to Silverstone this year, both financially – seven-figure losses are already being discussed – and in terms of its reputation, is likely to be substantial.
Although such extraordinary weather is impossible to predict, the circuit is coming under criticism for its lack of permanent parking – the cost of this has always been difficult to justify for an event that happens only once a year.
Unfortunately there are suggestions that the weather this weekend is only going to get worse.
British driver Jenson Button has even gone so far as to suggest the entire race might be called off if conditions don’t improve. During the 90-minute practice sessions on Friday only nine drivers completed 10 or more laps.
If you are preparing to attend the 2012 British Grand Prix, best check the Silverstone traffic hotline before you set off: 0844 372 8300.
Alternatively, the organisers are issuing traffic updates via the Silverstone website: www.silverstone.co.uk
Image credit: PA
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