I’ve had the single-seater bug for a while now. With a fiancée that works in the F1 industry, avidly watching the Grand Prix has become our much-loved biweekly ritual. As much as I enjoy the races, the envy I feel towards the drivers grows with each session. This must’ve been noticed by my fiancée, who booked the experience for me.
Although Formula Silverstone cars definitely are not Formula 1 cars, they do provide a chance for drivers of all abilities to get behind the wheel of something that is far more visceral than anything road-legal.
I signed up to an early session to maximise my chances of a quiet track; I didn’t want to get caught up in traffic. Thankfully, this paid off. Five other drivers on track was the perfect number to encourage competition without getting slowed-down entirely. Everyone in my session was respectful and swiftly obeyed the blue flags.
The drivers’ briefing was comprehensive but didn’t drag-on. Some participation was encouraged, and at the risk of looking like teacher’s pet, I found myself piping-up to combat the awkward silences.
The cars are unforgiving. The clutch is essentially a very heavy on/off switch. To set off, we were encouraged to apply a significant amount of revs before dumping the clutch. This felt completely counter-intuitive, but was essential to combat stalling.
Once moving, the cars come alive. No assisted steering or brakes creates a sensation of being directly attached to the vehicle. The H-pattern 4 speed gearbox was clunky and mechanical. It was everything I had hoped it would be. Despite the small capacity engines, the cars felt great on the small, technical circuit.
The most succinct way for me to describe the Formula Silverstone Single Seater Experience is go-karting on steroids. All of the thrills and spills of go-karting are here, but the stakes are much higher. I was initially sceptical, as I am with all experience days, whether it would deliver a true experience, but it ended up surpassing my expectations.
Maximum enjoyment does rely on respectful drivers, suitable weather and a track that isn’t too busy. As such, anyone interested in Formula Silverstone should book with these in mind.
Although we couldn’t compare our performance to historical lap times due to a layout change, I was satisfied leaving as the fastest driver on the day. Formula Silverstone delivered on my expectations; I’d recommend it to any automotive fan.