(Press Association) Silverstone officials have described Friday’s traffic chaos as “a nightmare” as haunting memories of the 2000 British Grand Prix mudbath came flooding back.
Thousands of fans were left stranded in traffic jams outside the Northamptonshire circuit as the two practice sessions unfolded under constant rain and leaden skies.
Offering an honest approach to the dismal scenario, Silverstone’s director of communications Katie Tyler said: “It’s a nightmare. What’s so frustrating is we’d almost got over the hangover of 2000, but it seems we’re about to go through it again, certainly with today happening.”
In fairness, no fault can be directly attributed to Silverstone. Instead a combination of horrendous weather in recent weeks and record crowds in and around the track have played their part.
With camping grounds sodden, some unofficially-run sites have been forced to turn people away, creating a backlog. It is a similar situation with Woodlands, Silverstone’s own site, which is full to capacity this year with 16,000 people.
For those with long-enough memories, the scenes recalled those of 12 years ago when fans were pictured pushing their cars out of muddy fields as the April race was deluged with rain. After what happened in 2000, Silverstone was forced into drastic action, resulting in the creation of a bypass and the majority of the fields turned into hardstanding car parks.
But even Tyler concedes the best laid plans cannot accommodate when a British summer becomes soaked with rain.
“For 10 years it’s worked,” added Tyler. “This is the first year we’ve had such bad problems, which is largely down to all the fields giving out.
“We try to plan for every scenario, but at the end of the day we are surrounded by fields and the cost of Tarmacing the whole site is not feasible.”
With a 100,000 crowd due on Saturday, with a sell-out 125,500 on Sunday, it would appear the issues could get worse over the weekend and with no let up in sight with regard to the rain.
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