Record sell-out crowd of 140,000 expected for British Grand Prix
The organisers of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone are predicting a record crowd on race day of 140,000 as a combination of the Lewis Hamilton...
The organisers of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone are predicting a record crowd on race day of 140,000 as a combination of the Lewis Hamilton effect and a new strategy on ticket pricing appears to be boosting the event's popularity. Organisers told this website over the weekend that they are on the point of closing the ticket office as they reach capacity.
This comes against a backdrop of an Austrian Grand Prix which saw a 40% drop in attendance this year compared to the 2014 event, while the next event on the calendar at the Nurburgring, has had to be cancelled. Nurburgring has hit financial problems since a change of ownership, but Hockenheim was unable to step in as F1's popularity in Germany has plummeted and the risk was too great for them, even with a subsidy offer from Mercedes.
Silverstone's new ticket pricing initiatives appear to have worked, showing that the circuit is 'open for business' as the management say, but while the lower prices are welcomed, it's tactics have not been universally acclaimed by fans.
The recent initiative selling off some tickets at a 44% discount, with 44 being Hamilton's race number, upset some fans who had paid full price by booking early. The circuit argued that fans who got in early had bought the best seats, whereas the discounted ones were less desirable.
But from next year Silverstone MD Patrick Allen plans a new model, more like the airline pricing system, whereby it becomes more expensive the later you leave it. One off cheap ticket blitz sales, such as the "One day only 1,000 tickets for £99" initiatives certainly seem to have engaged fans.
Allen, whose background is in supermarkets with Co-Op, has said that the 2015 strategy has been to find the right price points at which fans are willing to purchase, so he can price tickets for 2016 accordingly. He is giving back £1 million to fans as a credit against tickets next season.
Allen said: “The support for the event has been overwhelming and as a reward we will give all the fans a £10 credit on their account which can be used against any Silverstone event, Driving Experience or Gift Voucher. Silverstone is the best attended three day sporting event on the British calendar and we are looking forward to welcoming fans for what promises to be a great festival weekend of motor racing."
Part of the strategy is for children aged 10 and under to attend free of charge and those aged 11 to 15 pay half the adult price.
Speaking of strategy, FIA president Jean Todt told this website yesterday that he is to chair a meeting of the F1 Strategy Group on Wednesday ahead of the British Grand Prix, at which plans for 'improvements' from 2017 onwards to the cars and the F1 Sporting Regulations will be finalised. These will then be rubber stamped by the F1 Commission in time for the FIA World Motor Sport Council to approve them on 9th/10th July in Mexico City.
The final deadline for 2017 changes is February 2016, but this WMSC meeting is expected to move things forward quite substantially.
The race looks like being blessed with good weather, temperatures of 30 degrees are forecast for qualifying on Saturday. The high temperatures could affect the way the race unfolds; one would expect that with the Pirelli medium and hard compound tyres being obligated by the high loads of Silverstone's high-speed corner combinations, a one stop strategy will be the default.
But Pirelli's Paul Hembery thinks that the high temperatures, if they come, may push teams into making more stops:
“As was the case last year, we’re bringing our two hardest tyres in the range, because Silverstone gives us the highest lateral energy loads of the season. These place heavy demands on both the tyre compound and structure. So we should be seeing between one and two pit stops at Silverstone, especially if the weather is warm, which is expected to be the case.
"Silverstone is always a fantastic occasion, with an extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic fan base of British spectators. It’s one of the few circuits where the drivers say that they can actually hear the crowd as they are driving along."The circuit is likely to suit Ferrari and Williams, while Mercedes will again be the team to beat. Interestingly, in the last five races Nico Rosberg has outscored Lewis Hamilton by 108 points to 101, with three wins to two, so Hamilton will be highly motivated to get the momentum back into his campaign.
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