In recent years the cost of a general admission ticket for the British GP has become amongst the most expensive of all venues on the F1 calendar. Though despite this the Silverstone F1 race weekend attendances have bucked the declining trends seen in Barcelona, Monza and Germany.
The circuit management was changed last year and it appears the new incumbents are determined to do things differently than their predecessors.
Earlier this year, Silverstone announced it was to offer 1000 race day Adult general admission tickets for just £99 with an associated child entrance fee of just £49.
Incoming managing director Patrick Allen was told his idea was ‘madness’, yet he pressed forward with the plan and the 1000 tickets were sold within 22 minutes of being offered for sale.
“We kept the promotion going until 5pm on the day and we sold 6000 tickets,” Allen told Autosport. “In total, we took 18,000 calls. It clogged the lines up.
“So we know the demand is out there. People want to come but they haven’t been able to because of the price.”
Just over a decade ago, Silverstone faced huge problems with access. In the middle of the Northamptonshire countryside the track was serviced by single lane each way roads – and the lines of cars could easily take several hours to reach the venue.
Further, the circuit was consistently threatened with losing the British GP by Ecclestone who demanded they upgrade the facilities for the teams, sponsors and VIP’s.
Silverstone finally delivered. Fast road access, park and ride schemes, the new ‘Wing’ pit complex and improved hospitality and spectator facilities.
Then in 2012 – disaster struck.
Around 400 UK public events were cancelled the weekend of the British GP due to persistent rainfall of biblical proportions. Silverstone asked fans not to attend the qualifying on Saturday to ensure they could prepare properly for the race on Sunday.
Since then, Silverstone have placed a self-imposed limit of 125,000 spectators for any one day, though the facilities and particularly the improved park and ride service can now cope with many more people.
The circuit itself has huge potential to extend general admission viewing areas and the fans are now better served in both the quantity and quality of concessionary stalls.
Silverstone is claiming that ticket sales are currently 30 per cent up on last year and Allen is proposing an overhaul in ticket pricing in future years.
That said, the Northamptonshire circuit has thousands more tickets to sell which were previously taken by the race sponsor Santander.
“We want to make the ticketing structure transparent,” said Allen. “If you buy tickets early on, you’ll get the best deal.
“As you get nearer the event, it costs more. The plan is to introduce that next year.”
The area where Silverstone could improve greatly is in terms of the fan engagement. Events like the Melbourne GP and the season finale in Abu Dhabi provide far more ‘off track’ engagement for the spectators.
Silverstone ticket prices are still amongst the most expensive in the world, but they are leading the way in reversing the ever upward trend in entrance charges. For a change we can celebrate some good Formula One news and a Formula One promoter cutting ticket prices for fans is great news indeed.