Why British claims of ‘F1’s best fans’ may be true

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Sure, the British press haven’t always been the friendliest to German driver Michael Schumacher but then that relationship may be a two-way street. Over the years the 7-time champion has been relatively tight-lipped when asked for words on this or that issue. In his defense, some of those media scrums haven’t been the kindest to him either so the feeling may be mutual. When it comes to fans, however, Schumacher is always appreciative.

The British Grand Prix has, so far, been marred by rain and not just any rain, torrential rain. This has made parking as well as getting to and from the venue at Silverstone a real problem. So much so that organizers asked fans who held public parking tickets to stay away from the circuit on Saturday to give conditions time to improve for Sunday’s race. For those that managed to get to the circuit for Saturday’s qualifying session, they were met with more rain.

While watching the world feed here in the States, I was reminded again just how dedicated British fans are and their commitment to the sport of Formula One. Miserable conditions that would have sent the engaged fan home were braved by the British anoraks and that is to be commended. At least Schumacher thinks so:

“That’s been pretty special and big applause to them.”

Let us not forget the track marshalls who have to endure the weather but also maintain a proper circuit and always be aware of safety issues. Schumacher knows that role and how special it is when they are put under seriously bad conditions:

“A compliment to all the marshals, they managed to get the track in a pretty good shape with all the sweeping and the drying up – there was almost no water when we went back out again. That was a good job,” he said.

“So in case of heavy rain tomorrow I hope they’re going to be ready between the safety car or whatever they have to decide. I think some circuits simply have that situation [with poor drainage] and they did the best out of what was available today.”

Silverstone has taken heat from Formula 1 management for its lack of media and corporate hospitality areas. A major upgrade to the circuit accommodated those criticisms but some fans have voiced concern over the money being spent on “rich people” areas and not the average Nigel attending the race. To their credit, Silverstone has been very forthcoming about the challenges fans would face in these conditions and have tried to accomodate them as best they could. Back in 2000 the circuit faced a similar deluge and critics the world over were quick to heap blame on the race organizers.

As for the Schumacher-shunning media? One has to take their hats off to the men and women who got up a half hour before they went to bed to make the trek to Silverstone and cover the sport while avoiding traffic issues. They work very hard for the world press and many of them tweeted away in the light-deprived hours of the morning from their arrival at Silverstone. Presumably they weren’t there early to interview Schumacher.

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