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Why F1 fans are happy to pay £700 a ticket for ‘boring’ British Grand Prix

SILVERSTONE — The rains swept in and the mercury dropped below ten in exposed parts of the circuit as the biting winds cut in from the north. Yet at this track summer is rarely far away. It came in a rush late in the afternoon, George Russell, Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris parting the clouds with a British 1-2-3 in qualifying.

For Kaya and Harry, from Coventry, those Abbey Plus tickets at £700 a pop suddenly felt like even better value.

Ticketing has been a big issue with Silverstone’s pricing structure rising this year to meet the £30m cost of hosting a race. The pair were attending their first grand prix, a rite of passage planned for years. The weather was a beast, forcing them to miss Stormzy’s big night on Friday and curl their toes for most of the morning on Saturday.

However, the prospect of seeing Hamilton in the flesh made any hardships melt away.

“It’s my birthday next week,” Kaya told i.

“And also, Lewis is moving to Ferrari next year so this will be the last chance to see him as a Mercedes driver at Silverstone. That’s pretty historic. He’s a legend. How can you not love him?”

Yes, but you could do a lot with £700 each in the summer, like take a holiday, perhaps. Oh, wait a minute.

“We are seeing it as a holiday. If we were to go abroad for the weekend it would be about £500 a head, so instead of being away we thought we would come here instead,” Harry said.

“We have been saving and working towards this for so long, a few years. The scale of the place surprised us. We did a walk around the perimeter. You underestimate the sheer size of it. Incredible.”

And then there was the sighting of Hamilton as he nosed the car out of the garage and on to the track.

“So quick,” Kaya added, “amazing.”

Ava and Bron, students from south Wales, were also first timers, underlining the oft underestimated appeal of Formula One to women.

Like Kaya and Harry, they had saved to find the cash, £350 each for general admission over three days. I intercepted them in the queue for the merch store, a place to burn what was left of their money. Has it been worth it?

“Definitely, 100 per cent,” Bron said. “It’s just the speed of the cars and the danger of it.”

Ava is a member of the Italian diaspora compelled by birth to root for the red car.

“I’m a Ferrari girl,” she said. “My whole family watch it.

“It is so surreal seeing it in real life and just hearing the cars. It’s way better. The atmosphere is great.

“I mean, it’s tipping it down with rain, but everyone is still so happy.”

Bron revealed an admiration for Oscar Piastri. “I have followed him from F2. He’s a great driver.”

Enveloped by a sodden cagoule, Bron looked more like a figure in need of rescue than F1 guru, but beneath that watery exterior she was all devotion and energy.

“I got a job and saved up all summer. Just before uni started, I just tagged away a lot of money,” she said.

Ava has spent a gap year working her way towards the Hangar Straight. “I just thought, ‘why not?’ It has been well worth it.”

Even in the rain?

“I’d like the rain to lay off a little bit now,” she confessed. “Our tent flooded last night.

“Luckily my uncle lives in Oxford. I phoned him up. He drove 45 minutes and dropped off a new tent and sleeping bags.

“We had all my stuff in my little Fiat 500. We were sat in the car for an hour waiting. But everything was okay in the end.”

“Okay,” I said, “so who’s going to win?”

“Lando,” Bron said. “He is so charismatic, so relatable as well as being a good driver.” Ava agreed. “I really like him, too. He’s a great driver.”

George Russell will start on pole position for the British Grand Prix (Photo: Getty)

The power of F1 to tame unbelievers was apparent in sisters Macey and Maney, the latter resistant to the former’s entreaties until she wasn’t.

“I started being very sceptical,” Maney said.

“I feel like I came into it with quite a critical eye. I thought what could be so interesting about this sport and then I started watching it and found out for myself. It’s so high-paced, everyone is so passionate about it.

“The drivers have so much charisma. There is, like, a cult of personality about them, you end up getting pulled along by the current.”

Macey’s persistence paid off and, as a gift for Maney’s graduation, bought them both a ticket to ride. Quite the thing at £450 apiece.

“I kept saying watch a little bit with me and she would be like, ‘no it’s boring’, eventually I got her to watch it a little bit,” Macey said.

“I have always loved cars. I work for a car company [BMW]. F1 is the pinnacle.

“The engineering part interests me. I’m an apprentice. The teams all make cars that are so different, and the idea that 0.1 per cent performance is so vital to getting pole, or into the points, is unbelievable.”

Macey’s Red Bull jacket betrayed her allegiance. And yes, her idol is a Dutchman called Max Verstappen.

“He drives with such passion. He seems to me like a driver from back in the old days. He always drives on the limit, always pushing.

“People who think he is only good because of the car are wrong. Look at Checo, he’s a good driver but the distance and the margins between them are so great.”

For her part, Maney is a Lando fan. “Been well worth it so far,” she said, proudly tipping her McLaren cap my way.

Not all among the 120,000 were newbies. Rick, a member of Silverstone Racing Club, first crossed the threshold in 1958. It looked and felt a lot different then.

“I came with my old man. We entered across Bob Wheeler’s land next to Stowe Corner. All that separated us from Fangio and Sterling Moss in his Vanwall at 120/130mph was a couple of straw bales.

“There were no fences in those days. Being local we just nipped in through Black Pit Farm. No security checks, and no first aid either! I was eight or nine. The noise, the smell was so exciting.”

Rick, who lives in neighbouring Stony Stratford, was the lucky recipient of a ticket gifted by an old friend.

“I’ve driven around the track a few times since then as a member of Silverstone Racing Club, a little club that started in the 60s. We used to have a dedicated stand at Woodcote. That has gone now, and Bob Wheeler’s farm is a massive camp site. There is no stealing in today.”

Rick watched qualifying from Luffield and treated himself to a lunch comprising a Cornish pasty and a coffee.

“‘How much?’ I said, when she handed me the pasty, ‘nine pounds for a pasty? I didn’t ask for the bloody factory,’” Rick said, betraying generational bewilderment at modern mores.

He was nevertheless thrilled at the exposure to modern F1 at the circuit where the dream began.

“Loved it, mate,” he said. “Just need the cars to make a bit more noise.”

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