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Volume 24 No. 156
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Inclement Weather Causes Headaches For Organizers, Fans At F1 British Grand Prix

While there are certainly areas in which F1 has “shown other sports how it is done," this past weekend's British Grand Prix "was probably not one of them,” according to Tom Cary of the London TELEGRAPH. When the rain fell in "copious quantities on Thursday night and Friday morning, Silverstone was just not equipped to cope." The campsites "flooded, campervans were turned away, the traffic management system went down the drain. Unlike the rainwater.” Organizers “strongly advised” 30,000 fans to skip qualifying on Saturday while Silverstone officials “desperately scrambled to extricate themselves from their muddy predicament.” Yesterday’s race at Silverstone saw “a full house numbering somewhere in the region of 125,000.” In many respects, the track "deserves praise for the way in which it recovered." Silverstone Managing Dir Richard Phillips said, “There is plenty to reflect upon. We need to put more roadways in, we need to sort out the campsites, we have learned that the park and ride has been a massive success and we can build on that” (London TELEGRAPH, 7/9).

: In London, Kevin Eason writes fans endured “some of the most atrocious weather in the history of this most historic of Formula One grands prix." Not since the "first grand prix of the modern era, at Silverstone in 1950, could anyone remember such awful weather.” Mercedes Motorsport VP Norbert Haug said, “They are the best fans in the world. They have taken everything -- the rain, the cold -- and they still came in their thousands.” Eason notes, “Many of the 40,000 spectators on campsites stayed on to stage impromptu parties last night, hoping to get away early this morning without fear of being stuck in traffic jams.” But Silverstone will be “counting the cost this week as executives organise refunds for the fans trapped in those jams who missed practice and qualifying on Friday and Saturday.” Bringing in “extra machinery and hardcore, plus paying staff to work around the clock, is thought to have cost Silverstone as much as” $6.2M (all figures U.S.) (LONDON TIMES, 7/9). F1 Management Chair Bernie Ecclestone said, “I feel sorry for the fans, to be honest. You can’t blame anyone -- it’s the weather.” He added, “For the people of Silverstone, what could they have done? They probably couldn’t predict the rain” (LONDON TIMES, 7/7). The TELEGRAPH’s Cary wrote Silverstone’s reputation “has once again been severely bruised” as a result of the “chaotic scenes” Friday. Ecclestone's decision to "offer sympathy rather than criticism was by far the biggest surprise of the day” (London TELEGRAPH, 7/7). But Phillips "insists he will stay on as Silverstone's managing director with the circuit preparing to count the cost" from the rain-hit weekend (London DAILY MAIL, 7/9).

HELP ON THE WAY? REUTERS' Keith Weir notes Silverstone's owners "want to lease" the track's 760 acres in a deal that "could be worth" up to $388M. Phillips said that an "injection of cash for the circuit, owned by British Racing Drivers' Club, would help." Phillips: "We are a private grand prix, a private circuit and we have to do a lot out of our own pocket." Phillips cautioned that "it had to be the right people to help develop the circuit" (REUTERS, 7/9).