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20,000 fans told to stay away from Silverstone on Saturday

NEWS STORY
06/07/2012

In the wake of continued heavy rainfall, organisers at Silverstone have told those fans aiming to use the circuit's public car parks on Saturday to stay away.

Just weeks after most of Britain's water companies instituted a ban on the use of hosepipes for domestic purposes, such was the fear of a drought this summer, heavy, continuous rainfall is wreaking havoc across the country.

As widely predicted, today's opening sessions at Silverstone were both hit by the rain, thereby limiting running. However, the conditions also led to chaos for fans arriving at the circuit as the public car parks, after days of rain, rapidly turned into quagmires. The nightmare scenario was repeated at the end of the day's action as fans attempted to leave the circuit, conditions having deteriorated over the course of the day.

"Seven hours driving in and out of Silverstone today," tweeted Caterham's Mike Gascoyne late this evening. "So sorry for all the fantastic supporters of F1 out there today but I shared your pain. Today was the first time ever in 24 years of f1 I put my sailing kit bag in the back of the car before setting off for the track."

Fearing further problems on Saturday which could spill over to Sunday and thereby interfere with the race, circuit officials have reluctantly made the decision to tell those fans planning to use the public car parks tomorrow to stay away.

"Our ultimate aim now is to try and preserve as much as we possibly can for Sunday," the circuit's managing director, Richard Phillips, told reporters.

"What we can do tomorrow is accept people that are in Park and Ride (areas), people that are in camping and that can walk in," he continued. "However, we are strongly advising anybody with a public parking ticket not to come tomorrow."

His voice filled with emotion, Phillips said that those fans unable to get to the circuit today will be refunded, as will those who were due to attend tomorrow.

"It's almost made me cry," he said. "I always feel a responsibility because I am the person in charge but we have had an awful lot of rain in a short period of time. But of course I unreservedly apologise.

The chaotic scenes witnessed today brought back memories of the infamous Grand Prix in 2000 which, in a move borne mainly out of devilment, saw Bernie Ecclestone reschedule the race from its traditional July slot to April. Such was the chaos, wholesale changes were introduced including the construction of a purpose built dual carriageway.

Despite the widespread fear of further rain throughout the weekend, Mr Phillips remains confident that the race will go ahead as scheduled.

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