Tim’s Tips

A trip to Silverstone

I enjoy watching Formula 1 (when it’s on a terrestrial channel!), and one day would have liked to go to Silverstone to actually be there. Only the crowds put me off. So I was particularly grateful to my family for sending Robert (my son) and me to have a guided tour of the circuit.

A two-hour tour starts in the Visitors’ Centre. Guests are divided into groups of about 10, taken to a minibus and driven around some of the areas that are difficult to reach on foot.

The British Racing Drivers’ Clubhouse and library, and the impressive medical centre (a fully equipped hospital), were particularly memorable.

Then we were driven to the corporate entertainment area, media centre, race control (fully equipped with television screens covering the whole circuit), commentary boxes, pit lane and garages. In the garages Robert and I were distracted by two shiny new cars. Neither of us recognised the model but the make is well known. As the guide was telling us about the garages, a security officer came to our group and told us to leave immediately. That particular garage was closed for secret testing of the cars Robert and and I were viewing: I can say no more!

We stood in the pit lane outside Lewis Hamilton’s garage and studied the marks on the ground (some of which are not visible on television) that guide the driver and the mechanics to exactly where the car will be when it comes in for a tyre change. The mechanics train all year, with a particular emphasis on upper-body strength to operate the power tools quickly and accurately. They are athletes in their own right.

Then we went to the drivers’ briefing room (and sat in Lewis Hamilton’s seat), before making our way to the drivers’ podium (via the trophy room), where the obligatory photograph standing on the winner’s rostrum had to be taken. [Why aren’t you waving your arms in triumph, Tim?]

Our guide had worked at Silverstone for many years. He was entertaining and informative. On race day, one of his jobs is to collect Bernie Ecclestone from the helipad and take him wherever he wishes to go.

Finally, as an extra, we had a ride on the international circuit with a racing driver in an Aston Martin V8 Vantage. We enjoyed two laps on a greasy circuit where the driver enjoyed exploring the limit of grip as much as flat-out speed.

A most enjoyable trip, which I recommend.