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£145 to watch an empty track: Silverstone blasts F1 farce

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Silverstone’s owners have blasted F1 after 80,000 fans spent 90 minutes looking at an empty track in a washed-out practice session ahead of the British Grand Prix.

Heavy rain during Friday’s first free practice meant half the drivers failed to record even a single timed lap while the circuit was entirely free of cars for long periods.

With weather expected to improve over the weekend, teams saw no point leaving their garages in conditions unlike those forecast for qualifying and the race.

That meant the packed grandstands of fans, who paid at least £145 for a three-day ticket, found themselves short-changed.

Derek Warwick, president of the British Racing Drivers’ Club who own Silverstone, called the spectacle – or lack of it – “disgusting” and called on F1 to prevent a repeat.

“I understand the teams’ perspective — they do not want to use their engines, gearboxes, tyres when the track is wet and they know qualifying and the race will be dry and there is no useful information to get,” he told the Daily Mail.

“So why not make a rule that says, other than for a technical problem, everyone goes out for 15 or 20 laps? If I was driving, being British, I would have given the fans a few laps.

“But now things are more controlled by the teams and it is not easy for a driver just to say, ‘I’m going out there’.”

McLaren driver Jenson Button sounded a downbeat note ahead of his home race.

The Briton, who has struggled for pace this season, said: "I come here excited because I love seeing the union flags and the support from the British fans and I want to give them a result they deserve because they have been so fantastic.

"But it's not going to happen. We are not going to be on the podium. If we do, it would be a miracle."

Lewis Hamilton, who has fared somewhat better for Mercedes and was fifth fastest in Friday’s more active second practice session, also fears a poor result.

"I'm not happy with the balance of the car," he said.

"I can't remember the last time I've felt so uncomfortable. I don't really know what it is but we'll work on it and we'll fix it."

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