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Silverstone - Aramco British Grand Prix 2023

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Hi everyone,

Hope you’re all well.


This post is going to include some new content I am yet to write about on my website. After following the sport for multiple years and waiting several months from booking the tickets, on the weekend of the 7th-9th of July 2023 I attended my first Formula 1 race at Silverstone - the home of the Aramco British Grand Prix. Along with the main Formula 1 there were also feature races from lower tiers of single seated motor racing - Formula 2 and Formula 3. As well as Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. Along with the normal drivers, Brad Pitt also had time on track in an F2 car that had been made to look like an F1 car to film for his upcoming film.


To get into the Formula One spirt on the Wednesday before the weekend I attended the Williams Racing fan zone in Piccadilly Circus London. The fan zone was set up the whole week leading up to Silverstone with different Williams drivers attending each day, I chose to attend when Alex Albon was there and was lucky enough to meet him. Along with the opportunity to meet the drivers there was also a lot to do and see including the FW45 show car; the FW06, which was the first car produced by Sir Frank Williams and Sir Patrick Head; a reaction time machine; professional simulators playing the new EA Sports F1 game; and F1 manager making it a very interactive day for fans. The only negative was that there was no lift to take me up to the top level where they were showing trophies and race-worn items, but the staff were excellent throughout the whole day and brought the items down to me so I could see (and even hold them) which included George Russell’s crash helmet he wore during his time at Williams - which was a crazy moment!


As previously mentioned this was my first formula one race so I had no idea what to expect, especially with the vast amount of people going which totalled to 400,000 over the weekend! I chose to go on the Friday and Sunday, so I had a chance to look round before it got too busy on race-day. I was there supporting Lando Norris in the McLaren, but was also hoping the British boys Lewis Hamilton and George Russell did well in the Mercedes!


The track wasn’t too far from where I’m from but due to traffic and long days at the track we chose to stay at a hotel nearby. The event did offer disabled parking although when we went to book it, it was already sold out; instead, we parked at a park and ride carpark 20 miles away and got a shuttle to the track. From the drop off point it was a 2 minute walk to the main gate where disabled people got to go through the fast track line and straight in rather than waiting in the long queue.


Friday


The walk to our seat was very long and we passed a lot of stalls selling both merchandise and refreshments with lots to choose from! I managed to resist the urge to spend money slightly by not buying too much merchandise :)


On the Friday both my Nan and Grandad came, it was the hottest day of the weekend reaching temperatures of 34° and Silverstone lacks shade! I brought a ticket for Copse Corner with a carer free and was in the wheelchair section. The view we had was of the cars coming round the corner at Copse at real speed before heading down towards Maggotts and Becketts.


We first watched the Formula 3 and Formula 2 practice sessions, which were topped by British driver Luke Browning and Ayumu Iwasa, respectively. F2 features Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc’s younger brother, Arthur Leclerc, who drives for Dams. The hour practice sessions give teams time to collect the all-important data ready to use in the upcoming qualifying and race.


As Friday doesn’t contain any F1 qualifying it was a lot quieter and easier to navigate between areas. As well as the entertainment on track there was also a lot going on off track with the army having displays, a big Ferris wheel (which unfortunately I wasn’t able to go on as there was no access) and a fan zone so there was never nothing to do! I also got a photo in front of the Lewis Hamilton and David Coulthard paintings where the old track used to run. Along with all this there was also a museum outside the track, we didn’t have a chance to visit but I will hopefully visit soon.


The Formula 1 action started around 10.45 with interviews on the main stage from; Alfa Romeo drivers Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu; Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and McLaren chief Executive Officer Zak Brown. There was a wheelchair platform so I could see the stage with a clear view, although to go there I had to drive over gravel which my chair wasn’t too pleased with!


This was shortly followed by the F1 first and second practice back on track, and the first time I got to see the F1 cars in action! The difference in pace from the earlier practices was definitely noticeable but the cars were surprisingly quieter than expected! Alex Albon stood out in the Williams consistently coming third fastest in both practices getting within half a second of the first place times. Max Verstappen in the Red Bull unsurprisingly took the top spot in both sessions following his recent domination on all tracks. His teammate Sergio Perez was up with him in second for practice one before slipping back to forth for practice two and being replaced by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz. After a great result for their main driver Lando Norris last week at Austria, McLaren came to Silverstone with both drivers cars having the new upgrades although both failed to make it above P7 in both practices.


The F1 practices were split by F2 and F3 qualifying as their weekend set up is different with qualifying on Friday, a sprint on Saturday and finally the race on Sunday. Victor Martins and Franco Colapinto both topped their sessions, respectively.


That was the final on track piece of action for Friday, I was under the impression there was more interviews on the main stage, but the timetable changed online so we were very confused and because it was such a far walk and was so hot we decided to just head back to the hotel.


Sunday - the main race day!


Sunday was the day I was most excited for, ready to see 20 cars race around the historic Silverstone track and hoping to see some British boys on the podium!


It was only my Grandad who came with me on race day, and it was lucky I did only bring one carer because there was very little space! We left really early to get there before the rush of the crowd. When we arrived at the shuttle it was already extremely busy, but the staff were great and let us park in the bus carpark and get straight onto the next bus without queuing. We were told 150 buses would be transporting 9,000 people from the park and ride in a single day!


Once we arrived at the track it was a lot busier than the Friday, but again we got in very fast, and this time had the bonus of knowing exactly where to go. We first watched the end of the F3 feature race which was won by Oliver Goethe in the Trident. Shortly followed by the F2 feature race won by previous qualifying winner Victor Martins in the ART Grand Prix.


After this was the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, as I do not have interest in this we used the time to look round more. We went into the Lego section which displayed some cars made from Lego including the McLaren 2022 F1 car which has 1434 pieces and that I have completed myself at home! We also visited the F1 official store where I picked up a blue Mercedes George Russell hat to mark his home Grand Prix, although they definitely raised the prices 😅.


The time was getting closer for the main race, so we headed back to our seat. There was a lot more people in the wheelchair space when we arrived and there was nowhere near enough room for a wheelchair and carer to sit in the designated area, so everyone was super squashed in. I probably wouldn’t recommend the area (Copse) to disabled people as despite the good view it’s very stressful squeezing into a stupidly tight space, next year I am going to go elsewhere.

Ahead of the race the drivers did a parade around the track in old cars giving the crowd a chance to cheer their favourite drivers, of course the British boys got the largest cheers! The Red Arrow did a display showing the red, white, and blue of the Great British flag… and then it was time for the race to start!


The previous day qualifying decided the order with Max Verstappen taking pole, followed behind by the two McLaren’s of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri in 2nd and 3rd (which I was over the moon about!). George Russell started in 6th with his teammate Lewis Hamilton just behind in 7th.


When the 5 red lights went out to commence the race Norris managed to beat Verstappen into the first corner putting his McLaren in front for 5 laps, getting a huge cheer from 140,000 people in the crowd! Once the Red Bull was given access to Drag Reduction System (an overtaking aid that increase straightline speed by reducing the rear wing drag through a slot on the rear wing that can be opened when a car is running within one second of the car in front) the current World Champion regained his first place position and started to pull away from the McLaren at a pace, being there and watching it live you could really see how much of a difference a second really was!


Norris’ gap to the front almost got to 10 seconds but a safety car, caused by Kevin Magnussen, lowered the gap. Many drivers used this as an opportunity to take the mandatory pit stop including the front two, most of the teams opted for soft tyres but McLaren chose to put both their drivers out on hards. Piastri was unlucky to lose his 3rd place spot after choosing to pit just before the safety car was needed, leaving Hamilton to use the free pit stop and come out ahead, still in 4th it was set to be the Australian rookies best finish so far. With the safety car taking up multiple laps it seemed as though Norris was a sitting duck with Hamilton having climbed up to 3rd and was on softs just behind. The young Englishman did exceptionally well on the restart holding off the 7 time World Champion, and managed to do so for the remainder of the race crossing the line in 2nd place!


Lewis Hamilton crossed the line 3 seconds later taking the final spot of the podium meaning two British-men on the podium! George Russell crossed the line in 4th after being unable to catch the rapid McLaren driven by Piastri. Williams Racing almost had two cars in the points on home soil, when another rookie Logan Sargeant also set a personal best finishing 11th and Alex Albon finished in 8th.


I was extremely happy that Lando got P2 in a home race, as well as finishing in his highest position this year, the McLaren looked RAPID so hopefully this is a step in the right direction for them! Hamilton’s podium finish was his 14th at Silverstone which is insane numbers!

Like Friday I was expecting the drivers to go onto the main stage but because the timetable changed online again we left and unfortunately missed Lando and others on stage ☹.


I had such a great weekend and the calendar for next year is already out with Silverstone being on the first weekend of July, so I am already looking forward to that! I will probably sit in a different location on the track where hopefully the seats are less crammed! We are only 11 races in to the 2023 calendar so there’s still a lot more to be watching in the upcoming months, with the next race being in Budapest in 2 weeks where hopefully McLaren can continue their excellent performances!

Thank you for reading and hopefully I am able to write some more F1 content for this website in the future!

Ellie Xx

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