x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

A sense of normality amid the madness

Second home - Sporting venues are seen as towering lumps of metal and concrete housing row upon row of plastic seats, baying spectators and overpaid superstars.

Sporting venues are seen as towering lumps of metal and concrete housing row upon row of plastic seats, baying spectators and overpaid superstars. That is not surprising, after all most of the better known ones are but very occasionally they can be as anonymous as an old airfield based in some Northamptonshire backwater. I am talking about Silverstone, the home to the British Grand Prix - at least until June - and the track that brings a touch of normality to the glamorous world of Formula One.

While other tracks house miles of grandstand seating and various hospitality suites Silverstone is as plain as they come. Sure, there are still the large white gazebos which dish out champagne breakfasts for those with a bit of cash but by and large it is surprisingly ordinary. The car park is effectively a field and there are no grandiose entrances to signal your arrival. After you have eased your way through the crowd and past the gate you're spat into the middle of a half mud, half grass track lined with burger vans and merchandise stalls.

If you have more money than sense or you have a grandstand seat you can spend all day there but if not you will need to make your way to one of the grass verges or hills so you're assured of a good view come race time. It may not be the best seat in the house nor may it be comfortable but it does it's job. It is soon to be dropped from the calendar due to a lack of investment and improvement but the very elements the FIA wants to see changed - ramshackle parking, more hospitality, improved media centre - are the exact things which give the track its charm.

It is unassuming and understated and in a sport where money is thrown at everything to make it look uniform and sterile surely that is a good thing? * Matthew Briggs