Red Bull principal Christian Horner has shared his story of how he skipped school to sneak into Silverstone back in 1991.
In those days Horner was just starting out in karting, and after deciding that he would drive to Silverstone in his Beetle disguised as a Porsche, rather than go to school, it’s safe to say his risk paid off.
“With the British Grand Prix up next, I was remembering back to 1991 and one of my earliest F1 memories,” he told the Red Bull website.
“I had not long had a driving licence and had an imitation Porsche that was really a Beetle, with a Porsche spoiler on the back and exhausts out of the side.
“Back then, Goodyear were the tyre suppliers and they used to do two days of testing at Silverstone around a month before the British GP. I had been to Silverstone previously to see Johnny Herbert in a Formula 3 car, I’d also seen Eddie Irvine in Formula Ford, but this was the first time I saw an F1 car driving around the circuit.
“So I sneaked a day off school and instead of driving there, I drove to Silverstone. I managed to find a hole in the fence and made it in to the pit lane. Having got in there, I definitely wasn’t going to leave.
“I managed to get in front of the Williams garage, who had developed a phenomenally quick car that Nigel Mansell was testing — which would have been one of Adrian [Newey’s] cars.
“I met Nigel and he was very generous with his time. I then went to the back of the pits and I bumped into Ayrton Senna. We stood face-to-face and he saw the jacket I was wearing, which was from one of the karting teams that I drove for. He recognised the kart manufacturer and started asking me about karting.
“So not only had I seen Nigel, who was my boyhood hero, I also met this other icon in Senna. So driving home in my Volkswagen Beetle, I was over the moon. It did not help my A Levels, but I had a great day!”
The chances of sneaking in to Silverstone this year are practically zero with the British GP being held without fans as the teams continue to follow the strict safety measures put in place.
But while Horner admits it will be “very weird” to race at Silverstone without the fans, he said “as soon as the red lights go out” their absence isn’t as noticeable, until after the race of course.
“It is going to be very, very weird not having any fans at Silverstone,” he said.
“They normally arrive on Wednesday and there is a festival atmosphere no matter what the weather conditions. They are some of the best, if not the best fans that we see.
“So doing a race without a crowd will be very strange. But it is funny, as soon as the red lights go out and the race starts, the focus is only on the cars, so you don’t notice as much. It is only at the end of the race when you go to the podium that you really miss the screams and clapping fans.”