It is with some trepidation and a great deal of sympathy – particularly for those of you who were at Silverstone today – that I find myself settling down to reflect on what has been an amazing day in some respects and almost horrifying in others.
Formula 1 comes home this weekend and it should be an event to be proud of, but anyone who spent time following the #Silverstone feed on Twitter today will have seen a very different story; Accounts from racegoers still trying to get in to the circuit by mid-afternoon, vehicles on fire, photographs of areas resembling swampland and even a car stuck down a hole! You do have to admire the persistence of the British motorsport follower and wonder just what the campers are going to find when they get back to their respective sites around the track.
Undoubtedly, a poor summer and endless low pressure systems over the last two months set the bedrock for today’s calamity. The rain has only just cleared away from Silverstone, having started at around 03:00 – some 14 hours ago – and the only saving grace to come out of it is that having watched the radar loops all day, it could have been much worse, as recent video from areas to the north of Silverstone shows.
So what happens now? Well, you can’t see the situation around the car parks and campsites improving in the immediate future, but at least this evening will be dry. It will turn much cooler overnight than of late, with air temperature dropping to nine degrees, while a light breeze will continue from the south-east.
Tomorrow will dawn dry and sunny with patchy cloud, and final practice will look wonderful for the large worldwide audience watching the qualifying simulation runs on television. But make no mistake, it will be a different experience for those at the track. The large swamp-like areas will remain and finding some decent hard ground for parking will be a challenge, because there is limited space and many fans will aim to get to the circuit early.
Even the Formula 1 drivers will have to pay attention during tomorrow’s 60-minute session. Bruno Senna demonstrated vividly this afternoon that venturing onto the grass is a no-no. It will still be saturated in the morning, so a brief trip over the lawn could easily result in something more substantial.
The feed of humid, muggy air is going to continue on Saturday and with it comes the potential of thundery showers developing over a large area of central and southern England. Shower cells are expected to become widespread after midday and there is a chance that Northamptonshire will be in the firing line once again. However, this thundery downpour scenario is obviously dependant on where and when the cells form, so it will be down to watching the sky if you are at the track, or in my case the satellite images and latest radar sequences.
Fingers crossed Silverstone will avoid the scattered showers, to at least give the ground around the venue some chance to dry out a little ahead of Sunday’s race. I will be keeping up-to-date with regular updates on Twitter as we go through final practice and into qualifying. At the moment it’s a 50/50 chance of showers and no more than that, until we see clear evidence of intense shower development tomorrow.
Maximum air temperature will reach 19 Celsius and a continuing light south-easterly breeze will help to keep the moist airflow from the continent rolling in.
Looking ahead quickly to Sunday – several teams are predicting a doomsday scenario similar to today’s weather. This was based on a large system that is set to move up the eastern side of England during the afternoon. Latest indications are that this is no longer a feature and we’ll be left with the ‘chance of developing showers’ scenario through humidity and storm development, rather than any established system that would cross over Silverstone and dump an inch or more of rain.
So the weather is doing it’s best to match the season itself – unpredictable. Take care if you are in the campsites or attempting to travel around the A43 and other surrounding roads. Enjoy the on-track action tomorrow and I will be back at around 18:00 BST with the final detailed forecast, looking forward to the 2012 British Grand Prix.