Silverstone Circuits Ltd today started a new chapter in British motorsport history, with the official launch of the new 3.66mile 'Arena' circuit that will play host to this year's British Grand Prix.
The ribbon was cut by HRH The Duke of York who was then taken around the new track in a two-seat Grand Prix car driven by BRDC President Damon Hill. Former F1 driver David Coulthard took to the track in a Red Bull F1 car while Ron and Leon Haslam represented the world of two-wheeled racing. Moto GP will visit the track on June 18-20 and the World Superbikes on July 31-August 1.
“This is a very proud day for Silverstone Circuit and the BRDC,” commented Damon Hill. “The new section of track and improvements made elsewhere to the circuit are fantastic. These changes provide not only a stunning new driving challenge but will also lead to an enhanced spectator experience and provide great flexibility in terms of the different layouts that we can now use.”
The new layout departs the 'old' Grand Prix circuit, turning right just before the Abbey Chicane. From there cars will sweep left around Farm Curve and into a pair of tight corners, first right at Village Corner, then left through The Loop and Aintree Corner onto the Wellington Straight – the new name for the National Straight, which rejoins the old track at Brooklands.
It is estimated that F1 cars will reach over 300kmph on the new layout with average lap speeds of 252kmph – lap times being only four seconds more than the previous layout, which is 760m shorter than the new circuit.
The 'Arena' circuit, developed at a cost of £5 million, is just one part of Silverstone's redevelopment, which also includes upgrades for the track's Stowe circuit and facilities and a brand new pit and paddock complex scheduled to be opened in 2011.
“We feel we are well on the way to being one of the best motor sport facilities in the world for competitors, organisers and spectators alike,” explains Richard Phillips MD of Silverstone Circuits Ltd. “At the same time the redevelopment will help us to diversify our offering in the areas of leisure, education and creating a technological hub for motor sport that will ensure that Silverstone remains a vibrant and healthy business for many years to come.”