Hamilton celebrates Silverstone thriller

- 240,000 record crowd enjoys “phenomenal” British Grand Prix - 20,000 fans stay behind to see Lewis at Grand Prix Party - Tickets go on sale for 2009 FORMULA 1 SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX

Lewis Hamilton became the first British driver in eight years to win his home Grand Prix at Silverstone on Sunday (6 July).

 Not since David Coulthard (in 2000) had a Brit celebrated on the top step of the F1 podium at  Silverstone,  and  a  passionate  sell-out  race  day  crowd  of  90,000  were  just  as  thrilled  as  the  Vodafone McLaren F1 Team driver, after one of the most eventful and thrilling British Grand Prix in recent years.

Record crowds headed to Silverstone to cheer on the three British drivers – Hamilton, Coulthard and Button –   including   65,000   on   Friday   and   85,000   on   Saturday.   All   three   days   of   the   2008   FORMULA   1 SANTANDER  BRITISH  GRAND  PRIX  were  a  sell-out  and  Managing  Director  of  Silverstone  Circuits Limited, Richard Phillips, has heralded this year’s Grand Prix as one of the most exciting races and most successful events he has ever worked on.

Phillips commented, “From an event point of view, this year’s British Grand Prix has been one of the best run, most entertaining and well supported events I have ever worked on. Sunday’s British Grand Prix and Saturday’s  GP2  race  produced  some  of  the  best  and  most  entertaining  on-track  action  we’ve  seen  for  a very long time; and Lewis winning on Sunday capped off a fantastic weekend of racing. The 240,000 fans who  attended  over  the  three  days,  and  all  of  the  drivers  that  produced  such  spectacular  racing  on  track, have made this a phenomenal British Grand Prix.

“Away from the track Silverstone has delivered another fantastic event. Despite the disappointing news that we won’t be hosting the British Grand Prix in 2010, my staff have picked themselves up, worked as hard and as professionally as they always do, and delivered another incredible Grand Prix. 240,000 fans got in and out of the circuit without any fuss and we have proved, once again, that our team can deliver a near- faultless event.

“The fans have also played their part. No other country in the world is fortunate enough to have fans that are as passionate and supportive as ours. We had capacity crowds on all three days and they were treated to  some  unbelievable  racing.  The  inclement  weather  certainly  didn’t  dampen  their  spirits  and,  if  anything, added  to  the  excitement  on  track.  Their  support  for  all  the  drivers,  but  especially  the  British  drivers,  was fantastic, and the noise and atmosphere when Lewis won was amazing.

” The atmosphere in the F1 Paddock was equally electric, as the sun came out towards the end of a fantastic race. A number of high profile guests and VIPs were making the most of the glamorous occasion, including The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, chef Gordon Ramsay, presenters Davina McCall and Vernon Kay, cricketer  Kevin  Pietersen,  England  rugby  international  Lewis  Moody  and  this  year’s  Female  Face  of  the British Grand Prix, Gemma Garrett. After the big race on Sunday, a record-equalling 20,000 fans stayed behind at Silverstone to continue the post-race celebrations as Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and David Coulthard joined a number of other F1 drivers and VIP guests at the Grand Prix Party. Established as a traditional finale to the British Grand Prix, the Party, free to all ticket holders, took place after the last race of the day on a purpose built giant stage in the centre of the circuit.

Tony Jardine hosted the evening’s entertainment and was joined on stage by a number of F1  drivers,  personalities  and  celebrity  VIP  guests.  All  of  the  drivers  received  a  heroes  welcome,  but  the biggest  cheer  of  the  day  was  saved  for  Lewis  Hamilton,  who  had  earlier  won  the  2008  FORMULA  1 SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX, moving up to become joint leader in the World Championship. In  addition  to  the  British  drivers,  Jardine  was  also  joined  on  stage  by  F1  drivers  Mark  Webber,  Nico Rosberg,  Kazuki  Nakajima,  Nelson  Piquet  and  Sebastian  Bourdais.  Celebrating  60  years  of  Silverstone, there  were  also  appearances  from  former  World  Champions  Damon  Hill  and  Sir  Jackie  Stewart,  British Grand Prix winner Johnny Herbert; and legendary F1 commentator Murray Walker.

Whilst celebrating Silverstone’s glorious past, Jardine also caught up with some of the potential champions of the future. Five BRDC Superstars, beneficiaries of a BRDC initiative to nurture the UK’s most promising young drivers, also made an appearance at the Grand Prix Party, alongside BRDC Superstars Director, and former BTCC champion, Tim Harvey. Miss Great Britain 2008, Gemma Garrett - this year’s Female Face of the British Grand Prix - also made an appearance on stage at the Grand Prix Party, organised to thank the fans for their continued support for the British Grand Prix. Gemma was overwhelmed by her first visit to Silverstone.

“Today has been amazing”, said Gemma. “The atmosphere, noise and anticipation just blows you away. And the race was incredible. Being  the  Female  Face  of  the  British  Grand  Prix,  and  to  meet  some  of  the  drivers,  has  been  such  a privilege.” Speaking  on  the  Monday  after  the  event,  Phillips  announced  that  tickets  for  the  2009  FORMULA  1 SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX had already gone on sale,

“Tickets for next year’s British Grand Prix have already gone on sale. They went on sale over the Grand Prix weekend and we’ve already sold more than 2,000 tickets. We have already started work for 2009 and hope to see as many fans back as possible.”

Tickets  for  the  2009  FORMULA  1  SANTANDER  BRITISH  GRAND  PRIX  are  on  sale  24 hours  a  day,  seven  days  a  week,  and  can  be  booked  at  www.silverstone.co.uk,  or  by calling 08704 588 300. Booking fees do not apply when purchasing tickets online. -