The chaos and the passion – it can only be Silverstone and Formula One

It really wouldn't be Silverstone without rain and traffic chaos – as well as a unique buzz around the Formula One paddock that only the marquee sport's return to these shores brings.

And while the promise of F1's 2012 show playing out at Britain's iconic venue under unpredictable weather is more than mouth-watering, the shambles outside deserves to be dealt with first.

Millions of pounds have gone into the circuit's redevelopment in recent years, making all manner of improvements that have delivered a world class set-up inside the circuit – no doubt. But not outside it.

The fact is, widely predicted rain and a total lack of any contingency plans left tens of thousands of motorsport fans stuck in their cars beyond Silverstone's gates all day – missing Formula One free practice sessions and testing their patience far beyond what the weekend's entry fee is worth. It was a joke that wore off once its third hour arrived.

Having labelled the episode 'a nightmare' and promised a full investigation, it still seems ridiculous that rain – hardly a difficult form of weather to predict during a British summer – should cause Silverstone officials so many problems.

Fortunately there are two days of action still to come and hopefully – whatever the weather – the circuit's record attendance does get to arrive, park-up, pitch out and taste the action. Because it promises to be epic.

A Friday washout did little to indicate who will be strong around the power track for Saturday's qualifying and Sunday's race.

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And in a season where seven drivers have already enjoyed victory over the previous eight rounds, that makes this weekend as difficult to forecast as the British weather – if not the traffic problems.

At least one thing is a constant when Formula One comes to town here: the passion from the fans to see their favourites in action.

'We learned a few things today – but mainly that it's often wet at Silverstone and the fans always come out in force, even when it's chucking it down. I'm glad we were finally able to do some running as it hasn't been the nicest of days for them,' said Jenson Button – in need of his home grand prix to give his flailing season a lift.

'It was very tricky out there – there was lots of standing water. You wouldn't want to be racing wheel-to-wheel in those conditions. You wouldn't see the puddles until it was too late.

'When you're driving alone it's not so bad because you can pick your way around and lift off whenever necessary, but in the race you can't do that. So pretty obviously I hope there won't be as much standing water around on Sunday.'

The forecast is tough to call for both qualifying and the race. But predicting a winner – that's the real tough nut to crack.

Fernando Alonso is the only man with two victories in 2012, the latest of which came last time out in Valencia. The Spaniard was also the winner at Silverstone last year.

From a dog of a Ferrari, Maranello has turned the F2012 around while the two-times world champion looks in the finest of fettles to take Vettel's crown.

'The job the team has done over the last few months has been amazing, recovering maybe 1.5 seconds or something like that,' said Alonso. 'We faced some difficult times, but now we are definitely going in a good direction.'

The same could be said of Sebastian Vettel, in a Red Bull that showed ominous signs in Valencia – but still the team based down the road in Milton Keynes remain beyond cautious over their Silverstone hopes.

It may be Red Bull's home race, but the home crowd will have other targets in mind – and one of them would love to deliver them success, just like he did through the pouring rain in 2008.

'I really still don't know today why we were so quick that weekend,' smiled Hamilton. 'Generally, I think us Brits should be pretty good in the wet. A lot of my success in the wet has come down to a lot of the weather we have here.

'I had fun out there today. I was concerned the fans wouldn't get to see much action – there were so many of them out there. I can't remember seeing so many people at a track on a Friday before. It was incredible.'

It helps when their energy heads your way – and imagine how it would have looked if everyone had got in?

Despite being shoved off track in Valencia, Hamilton's championship campaign is doing OK. And while his McLaren team-mate's recent run has left him short – Button still has title hopes. And just talking to him, you can see his hunger to give those hopes a boost in front of the British public.

Out of everything at Silverstone this weekend, the McLaren pair's drive – that's easy to predict.

Here's hoping it delivers too.

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