Five British F1 champions, other F1 luminaries, and representatives from the two-wheeled world all watched HRH the Duke of Kent, President of the BRDC, formally open the new Silverstone Wing – a state-of-the-art pit, paddock and conference complex.
Champions John Surtees, Sir Jackie Stewart, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill and Jenson Button were joined by Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Frank Williams, Christian Horner, Ross Brawn, David Coulthard and Murray Walker ï»¿as well as Cal Crutchlow, Jonathan Rea, James Toseland and Valentino Rossi.
Winner of the 2010 British Grand Prix, Mark Webber, brought the launch ceremony to a close by driving his Red Bull into the Wing and coming to a stop in the middle of the room.
The new facility will host its first major sport event, the FIA GT1 World Championship, on 03-05 June, and that will be closely followed by the MotoGP round, the Formula 1 Grand Prix, and the British round of the Superbike World Championship.
More than 800 guests were at the launch today, including BRDC members, representatives from motor sport governing bodies, and the media. They all got the chance to explore the new complex, including the 41 garages, race control, the podium, the media centre, and the hospitality and VIP spectator zones.
“Today was a very important day in the history of the British Racing Drivers' Club and Silverstone Circuit”, commented Damon Hill. “The official opening of the Silverstone Wing represents the culmination of many years hard work and gives a clear statement of intent for the future. We are honoured that our President in Chief, His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent, KG generously agreed to perform the opening ceremony.
“Over the last sixty years, under the stewardship of the BRDC, Silverstone has grown beyond all recognition. Silverstone has a significant historical legacy, but we maintain our place at the forefront of contemporary international motor sport, hosting an array of world class events and activities. This is in no small measure because British competitors have consistently led the way at the highest level of global motor sport for over eighty years.
“The BRDC is extremely proud of this new building, but we acknowledge that none of it would have been possible without our superb and exceptional Silverstone team. Silverstone is a cornerstone of our industry and the BRDC will continue to develop the circuit to ensure that Britain has a world class home for motor sport and related technology.”
Bernie Ecclestone, who in the past has complained at length about the poor facilities at the Northamptonshire track, was unable to attend today’s launch, but he sent a message of support:
“I am very sorry that I am unable to be with you on this important occasion for F1 and the future of Silverstone, but rest assured I have followed all the progress from planning through to the current launch of the Silverstone Wing. The new pit and paddock complex is a state-of-the-art facility and will form the backbone of Silverstone's plans to be a world class facility of its type. I am delighted with the progress and prospects for the future of Silverstone. It is a great shame that it could not have been completed 10 years ago, but well done Silverstone.”