New Silverstone Arena circuit opened

The official opening of the new Silverstone Arena circuit

The official opening of the new Silverstone Arena circuit

The new Silverstone Arena circuit has been fully unveiled for the first time.

The Duke of York opened the track formally, and was then driven around in a 2-seater F1 car by Damon Hill. David Coulthard and Mark Webber were the drivers on hand.

The track now differs near the end of the lap, where drivers will now take a fast right at Abbey. After a left sweep (Farm), there will be a sharp heavy-braking corner called Village, followed by a pair of left-handers called The Loop. The straight between Farm and Village is called Ireland (Woo!). The cars will then go onto the National Straight, before re-entering Brooklands corner.

Mark Webber was impressed by the new layout, and also thought it would suit the Red Bull RB6:

"I think the track will suit our car. We’re competitive at all
circuits at the moment, and the new section has high-speed and
low-speed corners. It’s also got some undulation which is hard
to see we’ll definitely notice it in the F1 cars."

David Coulthard was the first person to drive on the track, with the Red Bull running showcar. He is impressed with how the circuit has kept its high-speed nature:

"It’s very fast on the way into Abbey. But we still have all
the hallmarks of the original circuit. The corners are very
high speed and some of the entries are blind because it’s
built on an airfield."

Damon Hill praised the construction crew for working so swiftly, even though the winter snow delayed construction work for several weeks in December and January. He said that “The team have done a fantastic job under very difficult circumstances.” He was also relieved that the British Grand Prix now has a secure future, after getting a 17-year contract with Bernie Ecclestone:

"We’re very happy we’ve beaten down Mr Ecclestone as far as
possible to get as good a deal we can on this ten year contract,
with a potential extension for 17 years. We are now the only
private enterprise running a Grand Prix.

Now we have a new circuit for a new generation of people to
enjoy motor sport the way we think they should."

I’m already delighted, but the best is yet to come. Richard Philips, Silverstone’s managing director, explained why they chose Populous to design the circuit rather than Herman Tilke. He said that “We’ve had good, solid input from riders and drivers – people who are not going to wreck what is already a fantastic circuit.” Well put! Tilke has had his chance with every circuit in the last few years, and none are in the top half of the tracks in the F1 calendar. It’s about time that another company has had a try at designing an F1 circuit, and I do think that Populous (who did the Dubai Autodrome) have done a great job at Silverstone.

This new Arena circuit was actually developed for MotoGP rather than Formula 1, but I’m sure that F1 races here will still be excellent. One thing though: The start/finish line and pits for the F1 races will actually be moved to the straight after Club corner, but not for a few years. I’m not sure why this was considered necessary.

Pictures from the launch:

David Coulthard does a burnout on the new Silverstone Arena Circuit

David Coulthard does a burnout on the new Silverstone Arena Circuit

Village and The Loop corners on the Silverstone Arena Circuit

Village and The Loop corners on the Silverstone Arena Circuit

David Coulthard driving on the Silverstone Arena Circuit

David Coulthard driving on the Silverstone Arena Circuit

Silverstone Arena Circuit layout

Silverstone Arena Circuit layout

A

The full Silverstone Arena Circuit

The full Silverstone Arena Circuit

The full Silverstone Arena Circuit

The full Silverstone Arena Circuit

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