| SILVERSTONE, England, July 7
SILVERSTONE, England, July 7 British Grand Prix
organisers said all ticket holders were welcome to attend
Sunday's Formula One race after urging tens of thousands to stay
away on Saturday so that rain-damaged car parks could be
A capacity crowd of around 125,000 is expected at
Silverstone, a rural English circuit surrounded by campsites
that most fans drive to, for what is a home grand prix for many
of the teams.
Richard Phillips, managing director of Silverstone Circuits,
said Sunday remained a challenge but the area was in far better
shape than Friday when spectators were caught in a traffic
Fittingly, at a former World War Two airfield, he evoked the
'Dunkirk Spirit' of everyone pulling together to overcome
"We had to make a difficult decision yesterday which was
really upsetting but I have to say today has been a much better
day," he told reporters after another big turnout for a
rain-delayed qualifying session.
"A remarkable number of people actually got here somehow,
I'm not quite sure how...and we are very grateful to the people
who did stay at home. At least it's given us breathing space now
and we are looking forward to tomorrow.
"The fans seem to be very supportive and there's a bit of a
Dunkirk spirit about this one," added Phillips.
Organisers, who had asked up to 30,000 people to stay away
on Saturday and offered refunds, said previously unsafe car
parks could now be used and all ticket holders accommodated.
The campsites were full and closed however and fans were
encouraged to allow plenty of time for their journeys on Sunday
and be prepared for a longer walk than usual from parking to
Phillips felt all of the camping population, about 40,000
people, had now arrived and a park and ride operation was
functioning. There were still queues of traffic but waiting
times were significantly reduced.
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, a fierce critic of
the privately-owned circuit before a new pit and paddock complex
was built and a long-term deal for the race secured, spoke out
in Silverstone's defence.
"I'm really, really upset for the fans but in reality if it
was you running the race what would you do?" the 81-year-old
told the BBC.
"I don't think anyone expected the amount of rain we had.
"You might as well say why didn't the council in all these
different places throughout England do something because I
looked on the TV and saw the places flooded, the houses flooded,
shops flooded, people abandoning cars. I didn't expect to see
Heavy rainfalls across Britain last month caused flooding in
some parts of Wales and England, with caravan parks and homes
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)