Being the home of British motorsport, there is more to Silverstone than just the F1 weekend. The opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) is the perfect occasion to soak up the atmosphere of an international motorsport event that is as spectator friendly as it gets.
During the weekend, the teams and drivers are accessible to all as the paddock is kept open for the duration of the event. It is a fantastic opportunity to witness the work of the factory teams such as Audi Sport, Toyota Racing or even Aston Martin Racing in the thick of the action. 2014 marks the return of Porsche Motorsport and Mark Webber in the top category of sportscar racing. You may also get the chance to bump into former F1 drivers (Sebastien Buemi, Nick Heidfeld and Kazuki Nakajima to name a few) or Le Mans legends (Tom Kristensen, Alex Wurz, etc).
The weekend is also unbelievable value for money. WEC tickets cost a fraction of what you'd normally pay for F1 and give you access to all grandstands open on that day to watch the cars from a different angle. Corporate hospitality packs a lot of bang for your buck too.
The Chinese Grand Prix is one of the best value for the money grands prix on the calendar. It is amazing how much of the track you can see from most grandstand seats. The Shanghai International Circuit is easy to get to, has outstanding facilities and most grandstands boast views of several turns, over the catch fence.
It is also one of the best F1 weekends to get in touch with your favourite driver or team personnel. The Chinese round is well known by journalists for its red tape nightmare, even if it is getting better year-on-year. Access to Facebook and Twitter remains difficult too. As a result, a lot of the media doesn't even bother turning up to Shanghai for the Formula 1, giving the main actors of the show some reprieve, and the resourceful fan a chance of meeting some of their heroes.
View from Grandstand B5 - Image: MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team
This year's grand prix takes place from the 18th to the 20th April 2014 and it will be interesting to see if the growth in popularity from the last couple of editions is sustained despite the strong criticism of the noise, or lack of. The support race will once again be provided by the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia.
Shanghai is China's most accessible city for westerners and a modern metropolis offering some fascinating sightseeing opportunities, good bars and restaurants. It is also just five hours away by train from Beijing, via a high-speed rail link.