Central Manchester streets to close on Monday for Jenson in an F1 car - come & watch!
Central Manchester will be coming to a temporary halt this Bank Holiday weekend as Jenson Button and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes host a three-day celebration of Formula 1. Can you imagine what it takes to stage such an event in the heart of one of the UK’s largest cities?
“Obviously you can’t just drive a Formula 1 car onto an open road,” says Paul Saville from Vodafone’s events agency, Ignite. “For Monday’s street demonstration we’re creating a track space of 900 metres, including three areas for turning and donuts. To do that we have to close 1750 metres of road – and the paperwork had to go all the way up to the Secretary of State for Transport to be signed off.
“The planning began several months ago. Our first port of call was the events team at Manchester City Council, and they were very well set-up to deal with an event such as this because of their experience with hosting the Commonwealth Games. Obviously health and safety is their paramount concern with such a public event – you have to look at it from the perspective of the police, ambulance and fire services. And of course Environmental Health has to consider the noise.”
Even before Jenson arrives there will be plenty to see and do, including a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Fan Zone in Albert Square and a replica F1 pit garage in the forecourt of the Hilton Deansgate, where Vodafone customers will get a close-up view of what really happens during an F1 weekend.
“In the Fan Zone Vodafone customers, plus three of their friends, will be able to access all the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes activities,” says Saville. “Inside there will be a simulator, where the person who sets the fastest lap of the day wins a prize; a pitstop challenge, where people have to change the wheel of an F1 car as fast as they can to win; a bespoke outdoor karting track, where once again there are prizes for the fastest laps; you can have a picture of yourself superimposed onto the podium with Lewis and Jenson, or into the cockpit of an F1 car, and we send it directly to your mobile; spot prizes every hour; and lots of team memorabilia, plus a merchandise stand and a live DJ.
“We have the capacity to hold around 1100 at any one time, and over the course of the weekend we’re expecting somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000 people.”
If you’re visiting on Saturday or Sunday you won’t miss any of the action from the Belgian Grand Prix, because qualifying and the race will be shown live on the big screen. And, thanks to the Vodafone VIP reward scheme, Vodafone customers will get the best views when Jenson takes to the road on Monday.
“There will be a raised viewing area for Vodafone customers,” says Saville. “And on the Monday we’ve got a hospitality programme for 120 Vodafone VIP winners – they’ll have an exclusive Q&A session with Jenson in the Cloud 23 bar in the Manchester Hilton. Other competition winners will get to meet him as well, and one will get to ride in an MP4-12C with him. All you have to do to enter the draw for that is to sign up to our iPad competition in the Fan Zone over the weekend.”
For many, the highlight of the weekend will be when Jenson takes to the streets in his Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 car, and this is the area which demanded the greatest planning. To prepare the streets requires 5700 metres of fencing, 1200 metres of trackside branding – and 45,000 litres of water to fill the red and white plastic barriers that line the route. On top of that, the organisers had to minimise disruption to the public.
“We worked very closely with the traffic agency and the council to put a traffic management plan in place,” says Saville. “That starts with putting up notices to inform the public, both in the local press and with a huge amount of signage in the run-up to the event, saying where and when the roads will be closed and where the diversions are going to be. There are actually 50 road closures in total.
“The event is going to run on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, from 11am until 7pm, and they will start to close the roads for the street demonstration on Sunday night.
“When you plan an event such as this you can get objections, but so long as you go about the process in the correct manner it’s very rare. We’ve kept all the local businesses informed about which roads are going to be closed and when, and the timing of the weekend itself is important. On the Bank Holiday Monday many of those businesses will be closed so the impact is minimal. We’ll start to open the roads again from 6pm, so by the time people come in to work on Tuesday it’ll be as if we were never there!”