Silverstone MD Stuart Pringle says that during the pandemic his team has launched a new annual event and is now prepped for the return of audiences at the home of the British Grand Prix.
Like so many businesses, particularly those in this industry, we have had months of uncertainly and faced many challenges at Silverstone as we have struggled to keep our heads above water to survive the pandemic and all it has thrown at us. There have been many difficult days but there have also been opportunities, and, on reflection, I am extremely proud of what the team has achieved over the last year.
Working closely with the FIA and Formula 1 as well as the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and our local authority partners we successfully delivered two rounds of the 2020 Formula 1 World Championship last summer. It was wonderful to have the sounds of F1 reverberating around the venue although our loyal and enthusiastic fans were sorely missed. The sight of grandstands and spectator banks sitting empty in the glorious sunshine while the best drivers in the world performed on track was frustrating and eerie and I hope we never have to experience that again.
“The sight of grandstands and spectator banks sitting empty in the glorious sunshine while the best drivers in the world performed on track was frustrating and eerie and I hope we never have to experience that again.”
In October the venue glowed in red light as we supported the #LightIItInRed campaign to help build awareness for the plight of the live events industry. Our flagship buildings, the Wing and the British Racing Drivers’ Clubhouse were spectacularly lit with the help and support of our suppliers Clearsound Productions, Robe UK, AE Hire, ARB and On-Point Logistics.
Perhaps the most positive thing to come out of this pandemic for Silverstone was LAP LAND. A Covid secure festive experience that ran for 25 nights from early December to 3 January. 200,000 visitors got to drive a lap of the Grand Prix Circuit and enjoy a spectacular light show – all from the comfort of their own cars. This was so well received it will now become an annual event and, with restrictions lifted, 2021 will be bigger and better and plans are already being drawn up ready for December.
At the time of writing, I remain cautiously optimistic that we will be in a position to welcome a record crowd to the 2021 Formula 1 British Grand Prix this July which, after last year, will be quite an emotional experience for myself and the team at Silverstone. The racing this season has already brought us much excitement and we are experiencing record breaking ticket sales as fans are clearly desperate to return to live sport.
We also have our first event taking place in the Silverstone Wing this week. Our purpose-built conference facility has been standing empty for most of the year but we are delighted to be welcoming West Northamptonshire Council to the venue where they will hold their local elections count. We have 3,000 sq meters of space which will enable the count to go ahead under rigorous Covid-19 restrictions. With around 250,000 votes expected the count will be a three-day operation employing around 150 members of staff and we are delighted to be welcoming them to Silverstone.
Later this year we will open the doors of our brand new 197 room Hilton Garden Inn Hotel, which sits on the recently named Hamilton Straight. With direct access to the Wing via a bridge over the circuit this will be a welcome addition to Silverstone and give us an even more attractive offer for those looking for a premium conference and exhibition venue.
I remain positive about the remainder of 2021 and look forward to seeing Silverstone bounce back into life as restrictions are eased. It has been a difficult time for everyone but I truly believe our business can come back stronger and more resilient as we move to the future.