Formula 1 commercial manager Bernie Ecclestone says Silverstone chiefs were helpless to prevent the traffic chaos that has overshadowed this weekend's British Grand Prix, saying circuit bosses should not be blamed for what has happened.
Unprecedented rain over recent weeks left campsites and grass car parks unusable, which helped trigger the breakdown in the traffic system on Friday that left many spectators unable to get in to the circuit. With Silverstone officials reacting as best as they could to the situation – urging fans to stay away on Saturday in a bid to save the grass parking lots for Sunday – Ecclestone said he did not hold the circuit responsible for what happened.
"I'm really, really upset for the fans, but in reality if it was you running the race what would you do?" Ecclestone told BBC Radio 5 Live. "For the people of Silverstone, what could they have done? They probably couldn't predict the rain."
Ecclestone avoided getting involved in the traffic problems on Friday after he was advised by Silverstone not to attempt to make the journey to the circuit. In the past he has been a fierce critic of the venue, and on numerous times threatened to drop the British GP from the calendar if facilities were not brought up to scratch.
He echoed the claims of Silverstone bosses that the trigger for the problems on Friday was campsites being unable to accommodate the number of people who had turned up in the morning hoping to find somewhere to stay.
"Apparently, from what I hear there are a lot of camping sites everywhere that shouldn't be there that let people park," he said. "Because they were under water, the people arrived that had paid to park, drove around and that's what caused all the trouble with the traffic jams."
He added: "Honestly, I don't think anyone expected the amount of rain we had. You might as well say why didn't the council in all these different places throughout England do something, because I looked on the TV and saw the places flooded, the houses flooded, shops flooded, people abandoning cars. I didn't expect to see that either."