Silverstone sees boost from Hamilton setbacks

Thu May 12, 2016 10:45am EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

BARCELONA (Reuters) - The British Grand Prix is set for a record 150,000-strong crowd in July with home hero Lewis Hamilton an even bigger draw after recent setbacks, Silverstone circuit managing director Patrick Allen said on Thursday.

The Briton's Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg is chasing his eighth victory in a row at the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday, while Hamilton has not won since taking his third Formula One championship in October.

"We are heading north of 150,000 on the Sunday," Allen told Reuters at the Circuit de Catalunya of current estimates.

"I think now there’s the factor of Lewis having to come from behind and there’s nothing the Brits like more than to get behind their man coming from the back of the pack," he said. "And he’s done it before.

"I think it makes it that much more exciting. I think if he was still winning race after race after race, it might be the opposite effect from last year.

"But this time he’s had misfortune ... and there’s been car issues and all of that. The Brits will really get behind him and that’s what they seem to be doing right now."

Last year 140,000 people saw Hamilton win from pole position at Silverstone, the biggest Formula One crowd of the season with only Mexico (134,000) coming close.

Allen said Silverstone -- a former World War Two airfield that hosted the first Formula One world championship race in 1950 -- was creating extra capacity, with more general admission tickets and grandstands available.   Continued...

Formula One - F1 - British Grand Prix 2015 - Silverstone, England - 5/7/15
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton crosses the finish line to win the race
Reuters / Phil Noble