One of the most iconic F1 racing tracks is Silverstone. Built on the site of RAF Silverstone, a World War 2 air force base, three converging concrete runways, placed at 60-degree angles to each other in a triangular pattern, formed the foundation of the first track, which are still visible within the outline of the present course.
There is no single place that is best to view F1 at Silverstone. Whether it is Champions Club, Club Corner, Hamilton Straight, Becketts, Stowe, Abbey, Village, Luffield, or Woodcote, each delivers a unique experience, priced at different levels.
Great drivers have raced here, including Stirling Moss, Jackie Steward, Jim Clark, John Surtees, Eddie Irvine, Jacques Villeneuve, Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna, and Lewis Hamilton Silverstone represents 75 years of racing history. If you are an F1 fan, visiting Silverstone to watch F1 must be very firmly on your bucket list.
If you’re looking for some F1 merchandise, check out the awesome stuff at the official F1 store here.
The Best Place To View F1 At Silverstone
Assuming you have purchased a General Admission ticket to see the race, you have Friday, Saturday, Sunday access to the circuit without a reserved grandstand seat. A General Admission access allows you to roam around different track sections and look for the best vantage point.
The great news is that, apart from the T1, Village B Enclosure, and Club Silverstone, General Admission ticket holders have roaming access to all the grandstands for Friday P1 and P2 sessions. Grandstand ticket holders continue with this level of access on Saturday for the P3 and Q1, Q2, and Q3 sessions.
Getting around the circuit involves a lot of walking, and some of the pedestrian routes are not great for your feet and ankles! If you have one, it’s a great idea to use a small pushbike to get about within the circuit.
Let’s Look At Each Of Silverstone’s Viewing Positions
As already discussed, the various Silverstone grandstands and viewing sites offer different experiences and allow you experience the atmosphere of this unique track.
The Silverstone Champions Club Is Situated In The UTC Building
Situated in the TC Building on the Hamilton Straight between Woodcote and Copse corners and costing upwards of £1,500, the Champions Club offers the ultimate hospitality. The views of the straight and pit areas are magnificent.
Silverstone’s Hamilton Straight Has Grandstands Built For Its Whole Length
The grandstands on the Hamilton Straight offer clear views of the action in the pit lane, and you get to enjoy the incredible atmosphere.
Grandstands have been installed along most of the length of the Hamilton straight.
Positioned between Silverstone’s Club and Abbey corners, the Hamilton Straight grandstand lets you see all the action in the pit and experience the atmosphere at the start/finish line.
You get to be in the middle of the action and can see all the start chaos as the cars race off. The first lap dash to Abbey corner is a leap of faith that the F1 drivers take, often with aggressive competitors riding millimeters apart, juggling for the upper hand.
You also get to see the triumphant fist pumps as the winning drivers cross the line to claim victory. The Hamilton Straight grandstands have a decent view of the podium.
Abbey Is Turn One Of The Silverstone Circuit
Silverstone’s Abbey corner is named after the ancient Luffield Abbey, the remains of which were found near the corner. The abbey was founded sometime before 1133.
With the new circuit layout, Abbey corner is now the first turn after the start of the race, and the views of the first lap battles are incredible. Abbey is a very fast right-handed bend with the cars racing at speeds up to 300km/h. The drivers then go onto the circuit loop.
There is a huge bump at Abbey’s turn-in point that unsettles some drivers. Some say it adds to the challenge and skill required, whereas other drivers criticize the bump and complain about its impact on a high-speed corner.
The first corner is a relatively short distance from the grid. During the first lap, bunches of cars arrive here side by side, which means many things can happen. Whatever does occur, you will be right amid the action.
The grandstand at Abbey corner offers you amazing views of the whole corner, including the turn-in point.
The Village Grandstands Are Situated At Turn 3
The Village Corner is named after the nearby Silverstone village inhabited by approximately 2,000 people. Interestingly, over the F1 weekend, they are joined by 120,000 visitors!
After negotiating two high-speed corners, the cars arrive at the village corner at high speed. The crucial skill is for the drivers to pick the right braking point from the right to the left side of the track. Get it wrong, and the cars will lose substantial time.
Get it right, and the cars will drift wide on the exit, speeding towards the opposite side of the track to set themselves up for The Loop corner and into the Hangar straight.
The Grandstand At Luffield Is The 7th Corner At Silverstone
As with Abbey, Luffield is named after Luffield Abbey.
Luffield used to be the last turn on the old Silverstone circuit. Introduced to the Silverstone’s Grand Prix layout ahead of the 1991 race, Luffield was originally two separate corners, called Luffield 1 and Luffield 2. When the circuit was rejigged, Luffield became turn seven of eighteen
Positioned after Becketts, Luffield is a very slow corner, taken in second or third gear. From a driver’s standpoint, the exit from Luffield is critical, get it right, and the cars are positioned to get around Woodcote and into the National Pit Straight.
Suffering tires can cost a driver serious lap times later in the race.
Woodcote Is The Eighth Corner At Silverstone
Woodcote corner is named after Woodcote Park, a Royal Automotive Club (RAC) owned club situated in Surrey. The RAC bought it in 1913 so members could drive their cars into the countryside.
I’m not sure that the screaming high-tech engines powering F1 cars traveling at 300km/h qualify as “a drive in the countryside.”
The Woodcote Grandstands are positioned a little after a safety gravel runoff area, but the view is unspoiled for F1 fans.
The corner is run flat out and is a great chance to see F1 cars aerodynamics working with the grip of the Pirelli tires. It’s deafening here with the cars at full throttle down to Copse. Positioned at the end of the National Pit Straight, Woodcote is a high-speed gentle right-hand turn onto the old pit straight.
Woodcote has had its fair share of crashes.
Jody Scheckter Caused A Nine-Car Pile Up In 1973
Jody Scheckter was speeding through Woodcote when his McLaren’s rear slid out, which he couldn’t correct. His car went on the grass and then spun right across the track, hit the retaining wall of the pits, and bounced back into the middle of the track. Mayhem ensued as eight following cars joined the melee and were eliminated on the spot.
As drivers took avoiding action only to collect one another, the crash included the entire three-car team of John Surtees. American driver Peter Revson won the restarted race.
In 1981 Villeneuve Caused A Three-Car Pile Up
Villeneuve lost control, taking out Alan Jones (Williams) and Andrea de Cesaris (McLaren), who were unable to avoid the Canadian.
Many of the grandstand seating at Woodcote can see the DRS zoned Wellington straight. The Wellington straight (named after the World War 2 bomber, the Wellington) leads into the Brooklands corner.
In 2014 Kimi Raikkonen Did A Bit Of Off-Roading
Aware that there was a big runoff area at the Aintree corner, Kimi Raikkonen ran wide, hoping to travel down the Wellington straight.
Things didn’t go well, and he was launched into the air as he returned onto the track. He lost control, hit the barrier under the bridge, and spun back into the track. Filipe Massa hit Raikkonen’s spinning car. Raikkonen received a 47g impact (47times his body weight).
At The End Of National Pit Straight Is Copse Corner
Corner number nine at Silverstone is Copse. This corner passes close to small pockets of dense woodland named Chapel Copse and Cheese Copse.
This corner comes at the National Straight; depending on the fuel loads, the corner is taken in seventh gear. What is excellent about Copse corner is that you get to see the downforce working on the cars keeping them planted on the track.
Through Copse corner, the cars travel at speeds over 280 km/h. the cars are at the very edge of their capabilities and will often drift to the track’s outside edge.
The drivers touch the brakes lightly and immediately apply full throttle at the exit. The time taken between the driver lifting his accelerator to being fully back on it again is less than one second. The engines must operate as a switch, going from “fully off” to “fully on” almost instantaneously.
There are three grandstands, named Copse A – Copse C. Copse A has the best view, followed by Copse B and Copse C. From Copse A, you are at the downshift/turn-in point to Copse corner, so you will see the power of the Formula 1 car in this high-speed turn. Copse A is also closer to the circuit compared to the other two. Copse B and Copse C are constructed further round the corners, and while they have a great view of the exit, they are not at the action.
At Copse corner in 2021, Hamilton and Verstappen tangled, sending Verstappen’s car into the barrier, while Hamilton continued and ended up winning the race.
The National Pit Straight Used To Be Where The Cars Started From
After they speed through Copse, the cars power up the National Pit Straight; several grandstands are on this straight but gone is the frenetic energy from the pitlane, which has now moved to the Hamilton straight.
The cars still travel at mind-blowing fast speeds, and the noise of the screaming engines is part of the whole F1 experience.
If you plan on chatting with your companions, this is not the place to do it due to the engine volumes.
Giant TV screens are installed above the old pit lanes, and you can see the whole race.
The Becketts Grandstand Lets You Watch Turns 10-14
Named after a former religious chapel, the “Chapel of St Thomas A Becket .”The Becketts grandstand is located at one of the circuit’s fastest and most demanding sections.
First through Maggots, into Becketts, then through Chapel, and onto the Hanger Straight, begins a DRS zone. The Formula 1 cars aerodynamics are working at total capacity as in the space of a few seconds, at very high speeds, they turn left to the right and then left to right again and then a gentle left onto the Hangar straight.
Maggots and Becketts are where you can watch how effective the car’s downforce is when you see how fast the F1 cars can change direction.
You won’t see much overtaking through these corners as the cars are going too fast, but lap times are often made or ruined through here due to the technical nature of the turns. The fastest drivers are the most precise and brave.
Becketts grandstand is very high. There is a large grass and gravel runoff area, and there is a rather sizeable general admission area for fans. The Becketts grandstand is set behind these and is quite a distance away from the cars, but you are seated high and get a decent field of view.
From the Becketts grandstand, you can see the Wellington Straight, which is a DRS zone, the
The extra loop added to the Silverstone track is now clearly visible.
On the Becketts and the Club Silverstone grandstands, you get to see F1 cars for about 10 seconds as they sweep through at very high speeds. The grandstands are virtually the same, with the only real difference being the facilities and services provided in the Club Silverstone stand. Here you get parking, an event program, and other souvenirs. There is also a hospitality tent offering food and drinks for sale.
The Stowe Grandstands Are at Turn 15 Of The Silverstone Circuit
Stowe corner is named after nearby Stowe School, built just south of the circuit.
Positioned at the end of the Hangar straight, being a DRS zone, means the cars arrive at 300km/h; they apply a small amount of braking, change down to fourth gear, and head towards the apex. Because they are set far back, it is not always easy to get a perception of the speed, but the grandstands at Stowe offer the best views of the track. The drivers work very hard through this high-speed, challenging corner.
Stowe corner is the prime overtaking corner on the whole Silverstone track. It is wide, and coming at the end of a DRS zone means the cars use each other’s tow (slipstreaming) effect. On the first lap, the cars are still bunched up together, and there is a genuine chance you will see accidents on the first lap.
In 1993 the legendary Michael Schumacher suffered brake failure, went through the gravel runoff, and smashed into the barrier at 200km/h
There are three grandstands constructed quite far back from the large runoff area at Stowe called Stowe (A), Stowe (B), and Stowe (C).
Stowe (A) and Stowe (B) can see the drivers coming down the Hangar straight, negotiating through Stowe and dropping down Vale Hill. It is worthwhile taking binoculars to see the big screen opposite the grandstand. Stowe (B) is probably the best situated of the three Stowe grandstands for viewing the Hangar Straight and the other direction towards Vale.
Finally, There Is Club Corner
Club Corner is one of the best places to watch Silverstone. It is the final corner before the Hamilton straight and the start/finish line. Club Corner was modified in 2010 when they changed the constant curve to a double apex corner, which is challenging for today’s cars. The second part of the corner is much tighter and is also a blind corner.
The new pit wall is on the right-hand side of the track.
Skill and precision are the hallmark abilities a driver needs to make a clean exit and to go as fast as possible across the line.
Drivers who get the apex wrong have a slower exit and will be vulnerable to a challenger attacking as they approach Abbey.
At Club corner, you see the cars for a decent amount of time. When they exit the right-hand Stowe Corner, you first catch sight as they race through the left-hander into Vale. The pit entrance is located here.
Some Handy Tips When Attending Silverstone
Here are some handy tips geared for the General Admission ticket holder to make your weekend adventure as comfortable as possible.
Bring A Chair
Although it will be an exciting adventure, the walking distances at Silverstone are very long, and you will need to rest. Bring a folding chair; you’ll be glad of it during the downtime.
Bring A Radio That You Can Tune Into 87.7 Fm
The atmosphere, catching glimpses of famous people, the sounds of screaming F1 engines, and the good-natured crowd all create an iconic atmosphere. Unlike at home watching on tv, the only negative is that you can only see the part of the race where you are sitting.
Some grandstands have massive tv screens with real-time reporting; others don’t. Silverstone runs a commentary channel on 87.7FM which means you can keep up with the overall race progress.
Miss The Traffic Jams
Silverstone is known for the legendary traffic jams after the race.
Why don’t you stick around and enjoy the after-race concert?
Keep Your Cell Phone Fully Charged
Mainly if you are part of a group, and you get split up, keep your phone charged and switched on so you can reach out to each other.
Bring A Camera
It’s an expensive excursion, and you want to keep a memory of the event. Bring your best camera. Of course, you always have a good camera on your phone.
A higher-quality camera will enable you to catch more difficult shots – such as high speed or low light images. If you are like me and a little trigger happy, make sure you have spare data storage devices to keep available memory for future shots.
If The Weather Doesn’t Cooperate
Be prepared for any weather. Knowing Silverstone, you could experience rain in the morning and sun in the afternoon. Bring along adequate sun protection and suitable weather gear for the other extreme.
Cash And Your Cards
Make sure you have access to sufficient funds to buy food and cool drinks.
The amount of walking and possible heat can potentially cause dehydration. Drink water, and make sure you keep your blood sugar up by eating enough food.
Take Food Along
I can’t stress enough that one of the keys to an enjoyable outing is to stay hydrated (with water) and that you keep your blood sugar up by eating enough food.
If you plan on walking a lot, you don’t want a heavy, cumbersome picnic basket. The food and beverages at Silverstone are often costly, so you may want to take your supplies through instead. Take lunch packs that each crew member can carry in a backpack.
Hangry isn’t a great state!!
A weekend away at the Silverstone F1 meetings is an excellent opportunity to tick an item on your bucket list.
There are 10 grandstand facilities strategically situated around the track. Each has its benefits and views. I suggest you get there early and explore for yourself. If you are there for all three days, you have Friday and Saturday to find the best place to watch the Sunday race.
Make sure you prepare well and have all the items on your checklist to make it as enjoyable an experience as possible.