Silverstone wants to extend the Formula 1 weekend from three to four days in order to be able to offer spectators more days of action on the track. The usual three-day format currently runs from Friday to Sunday, with the traditional Media Day also taking place on Thursday. But in Silverstone you want to have driving on Thursday.
“We want to extend the weekend,” confirms Track Manager Stuart Pringle as part of the Autosport International in Birmingham. But that’s not so easy with Formula 1, which has already set its complete start times and no longer makes an exception at Monaco, where until a few years ago Thursdays were used.
Only in Las Vegas is practice held a day earlier because the race will be local time on Saturday evening – but even then, everything will take place within three days.
But Pringle thinks that Formula 1 should be more flexible: “I think they have to change the format of the weekend. They say, ‘Oh, it’s the FIA, they have to do the system tests and stuff’ – well, then do them a day early,” he suggests.
One possibility would be to hold at least some sessions of the supporting series on Thursday, as is the case in Melbourne. There, too, the track will be open on Thursday to host the V8 supercars, the Porsche Carrera Cup or the S5000 series.
“Let’s do a few things on Thursday. There are a lot of people who want to come and see something, and three days really isn’t enough,” says Pringle. “Let’s make it the big, best part of a week-long festival. People come to Silverstone on Tuesday and pitch the tents and that’s it, they’re in.”
A full house is expected again in Silverstone in 2023, after the record number of 400,000 fans was counted last year. Apart from a few higher-priced tickets, the event is already sold out. The Formula 1 boom in Great Britain continues.
But it wasn’t always like that at Silverstone. Under the aegis of former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, the track repeatedly fought for survival and even canceled contracts because the high entry fees could not be paid. In the meantime, however, a lot has changed, as Pringle says.
“It’s clear that Sunday will be sold out,” he says. “We’ve been selling out on Saturday for a couple of years, and now Friday’s are pretty much gone too. That’s the point where you make a profit. And if you don’t make a profit, Mr. Ecclestone, you can’t invest in the infrastructure,” he sends a verbal poison dart.
“Silverstone creaks and groans because BRDC have not been able to profit from the Grand Prix for 40 years. Now I am glad that the owners of Formula 1 reasonably feel that it is not in their interest to squeeze the promoter and they recognize that BRDC are putting all their money back into the facilities.”
“If we create better facilities, we can offer a better experience for the fans and if it’s better for the fans, it’s better for the championship as a whole and everyone is a winner.”
This article was written by Norman Fischer, co-author: Luke Smith
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The original of this post “Silverstone boss wedges with new plans against ex-Formula 1 boss” comes from Motorsport-Total.com.