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Exclusive: First flying lap of new Silverstone circuit
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Exclusive: First flying lap of new Silverstone circuit
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Apr 2010   |  10:26 pm GMT  |  96 comments

Today I had the unique opportunity to drive around the new Silverstone circuit as a passenger in a 2 seater with my old friend and sparring partner Martin Brundle at the wheel.

It was drizzling and quite greasy when we were out there, but you still get a feel for the flow of the track and the exciting new sequence of corners, starting with the astonishing new Abbey curve.

This video is the first onboard lap showing the new corners at racing speeds, with a live commentary for JA on F1 users by Martin himself.

Early next week you will be able to see a full in-depth track guide with Martin and I talking you through the new corners here on JA on F1.

Enjoy!

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96 comments

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1

James thank you for sharing that bit of magic with us!! Would love to have heard the audio coming from inside your helmet as well - mine was pretty good just watching! Long live Silverstone and the British GP. Cheers from the outer colony, New Zealand.

2

James

Looks good congratulations to Damon Hill and the BRDC. It will be awesome for bikes, can't wait for the Moto GP telecast here. Looks like some good overtaking oppportunities for F1 that the old circuit didn't have.

3

Looks good to me and I particularly like the way it joins the National Circuit at the end of the new section as I can relate to that from my club racing racing.

4

Nice one!

Now I'm just trying to work out where the best seats are going to be...

Outside Becketts could give a good view over the existing curves there and a good view over into the new Arena section, including the approach up from Abbey. Wonder whether you'll actually be able to see that, or whether they'll end up covering the infield with stuff that hides it.

5

Becketts would certainly be a good place to watch as you'll see the cars twice each lap. First going past and on to Chapel Curve & Hanger Straight, then you'll see them coming back round the new section and turning sharp back into the old "Club Straight" which I believe has been renamed.

6

Some hairy moments there. Some good places to attack and defend. Should be a good one. Cheers from the not-quite-so-outer colony.

7
Zobra Wambleska

Wow! Thank you James, that was wonderful and really gives a sense of the new track.

8

It's a shame to lose the right sweep of bridge but I think that Damon and all of the BRDC deserve congratulations on this new layout.

I feel quite priveleged to have been sat at the Abbey chicane last year - we'll never see a GP from that vantage point again.

Finally James, is the "old" track layout still available for use should a racing series ask for it?

Cheers!

9

Bridge stopped being Bridge when they put the abbey chicane in before it – meaning approach speeds were slower – Bridge got it’s reputation from being a balls out scary as hell blind corner approached at 185 mph + in the blast down from Club, again another corner that has changed since it got it’s reputation. Quite honestly leaving Bridge out now is no great shakes as it isn’t/wasn’t really Bridge any-more anyway. At least they haven’t messed around with the “nearly put back to what it used to be like” Copse or the Maggotts/Becketts complex (If you want to see what makes an F1 car an F1 car and stands them apart from ALL other Formula stand 100m back 2wards copse and watch one go through Maggotts/Becketts from the rear 🙂

10

I was concerned at the loss of Bridge corner from some circuit development pictures taken some weeks ago, but the new layout looks fantastic. The new fast section of twists (like Maggotts and Becketts) is going to produce some very dramatic Magny-Cours like shots for TV.

Excellent series of posts, James. This really is the place to come for F1 news. Still missing you on the box though! 😉

11

Leave Tilke out of the picture and just look what can be achieved.

I must say, when I heard the news that Silverstone was going to be butchered I, like milions of others was somewhat horrified but after witnessing that lap, the new changes look more than justified.

12

I think that Tilke is often unfairly maligned by racing fans. He has built circuits that drivers like and I like seeing F1 cars on, such as Sepang and Istanbul. Sakhir is a dud but Shanghai is still an interesting circuit. I don't care for his Hockenheim layout either but then any compromise there over the old layout would have been a losing one.

13

I think the Shanghai circuit was an important factor in the great race this year. But Hockenheim... words fail me. If I were Hermann Tilke I would have refused to ruin it.

14

I agree, I like Shangai, the first corner, the way it tightens and the cars have to slow down as they go deeper into it, and then flip the car the opposite way, thats great. Abu Dhabi is actually a pretty nice circuit too. I just hate it when they cut a high speed section with a slow, boring chicane.

15

A.K.

I would agree - you only have to look at turn 8 at Istanbul for THE prime example - however these circuits are GP circuits - they dont lend themselves to lesser formulae or Moto GP - that would be my criticism (Silverstone would be the same, but there's no way I can diss our own jewel in the crown can I)

16

Well said, Dirty Scarab. There really is no need to use the same designer for every track. He may produce wonderful facilities and magnificent architecture but I don't tune in every other weekend to see that. I want to see great drivers in exciting cars on thrilling tracks.

And like you, I was worried about the changes to Silverstone. I thought they would be a knee-jerk reaction to pacify Bernie Ecclestone. These changes look to have been well thought through and well implemented.

Now that's a thrilling track!

17

Looks like a fantastic circuit.

18
Jake Cooper, Australia

That really was something. Once more Martin Brundle has delivered a fantastic commentary from on board. I'm sure F1 fans miss the Brundle/Allen combination on the TV coverage.

I love the new circuit. Just about every year I get frustrated about the rain affected Silverstone race as it is actually similar to the Malaysian Grand Prix in terms of weather condition. As we all know that there are 4 seasons in one day in UK. Love the fast corners as well. But not sure we are ever going to witness a full dry weekend in Silverstone or not. During his commentary Martin mentioned overtaking being much easier for the faster car on this circuit. Well, we have seen plenty of overtaking in last 3 races in changeable condition. So with Silverstone’s weather record I don’t see how there will be less overtaking than the last 3 races anyway. However, if we get a dry race for a change it should be still interesting because of those fast corners I believe. Some of the layouts remind me of Bahrain circuit as well. Thank goodness there is no looooooong pit straight in the new Silverstone circuit. I always thought Silverstone is one of the most boring grand prix of the year. But this circuit got me very excited. Let’s see what happens!!!!!

Off the topic JA, we talk about woman in F1 a lot. But never talk about having indoor grand prix. Surely there's no chance of having an indoor grand prix any soon. But wouldn't that be interesting!!!!! Maybe some of the wealthy Arabs can come up with that.

19

Once upon a time they would have said a night race was a bonkers idea ....!!

20

Don't know about a full-indoor circuit but I can imagine the day where there is a loop that passes inside a stadium (either enclosed or not). Would be possible, for sure - the waterfront section in Singapore is halfway to that scenario.

21

Well I have to agree with Jake on this. I think it's possible, also possible to make it more fun. Of course it will be costly, but cost doesn't really stop improving some track management.

22

If the British GP were held in July we might see a dry weekend.

23

"But not sure we are ever going to witness a full dry weekend in Silverstone or not"

The weather in England isn't that bad. Believe it or not, we do sometimes get three dry days in a row, sometimes 4!!! LOL

Anyway, wet GPs are always more exciting than dry ones. What you lose in outright speed you gain in extra racing action.

24

All wet GP's aren't that much fun - Wet then Drying and visa versa are the most interesting.

25

Couldn't agree more. Of course it feels good when your team wins. But proper race isn't wet race.

26

Eh? What would be interesting about an indoor grand prix?

27

I have to agree with you, Martin. Even approaching my 70's, I miss walking the circuits (yes, even in the rain)to watch a bit from here and a bit from there. Being held captive in a grandstand is not my idea of being at a race.

28
Stephen Kellett

Indoor grand prix? What a bonkers idea:

1) GP tracks are 1 to 2 miles long. That requires a fair bit of space. Then add more space for the grandstands, pit complex, media suite, emergency area and hospitality. That is a very big building you need. The architectural, foundation issues and construction costs are serious for something that large.

There are some airship hangars near Bedford that are huge, but what you are asking for would dwarf those.

2) GP tracks are expensive to build. Now double or triple that cost to do it indoors.

3) Because it is indoors, you now have to comply with all manner of health and safety and fire regulations that did not apply to an outdoor event.

4) Noise. The noise reflections from walls and the ceiling of this indoor venue would make the interior of this enormous wharehouse very very noisy.

5) Maintenance on such a huge building is also a serious challenge and costly.

Your idea is a none starter.

29
Stephen Kellett

I missed something.

6) The HVAC system for a building this size would be considerable. You would have to have special ventilation to prevent the exhaust gases building up during a test/race. This is a non-issue with an outdoor event.

30
Jake Cooper, Australia

I forgot I missed something too. Real Madrid spent £80 millions to buy Ronaldo (one player only) from ManU, pays him over half a million US dollar per week after tax (again that's only one player) & he is probably going to play for another 10 years the most in his career (probably no more than 5 years in Real Madrid). How much does it cost to build HVAC system & install special ventilation system that would last for more than the entire real Madrid team's whole career? Who cares it is an issue with outdoor event or not!!! It's a matter of something new and different & of course the Arab oil money.

31

Looks really good - I was intially sceptical but the new couple of fast sweepers look the part!

A bit too much runoff in my opinion - that's the only negative. A little bit like the right-hand kink in the straight at Turkey - could be a great corner if there was any prospect of hitting something if you lose control...

32

Thank you for sharing that with us James, thanks to Martin as well. Great job from Silverstone and the BRDC, glad its not a Tilke-circuit and hope they'll be good opportunities for closely fought duels and overtaking a plenty!!

The new section flows beautifully, like so many others I can't wait to see both MotoGP and F1 racing there.

To think that none of the current F1 runners have driven the new circuit makes it all the more exciting come July...., a leveller for all regardless of how many races or championships won..or none!

33

Freakin' awesome!

I'm always nervous when a traditional circuit gets modified (remembering, of course, that Silverstone has been modified many times over the years), and I admit that I'm gutted at the loss of Bridge, but for the greater good I believe the new Silverstone is The Right Thing.

The new section look to have at least two overtaking spots, and one corner where spectators will really get to see what an F1 car can do.

I can't wait to see it in action!

Great scoop, too, James 🙂

Steve

34

Looks a fantastic improvement to the circuit. Big thumbs up to the BRDC - shows Britain can still cut it in against state-funded circuits

35

Another hard day at the office James.

Looks fantastic…

36

HI James,

looks a very different circuit from the last new addition to the calendar.

It hasn't lost his identity and it will work particulary well with F1, the 2 straights will allow driver to get into the slipstream for overtaking at the end and the technical part in the middle will give more opportunities for overtaking than before.

It looks pretty hard in tyres and brakes, what do you think ?

37

Should make for great racing. I'm glad tilke was not allowed to ruin the circuit and it still feels unique.

38

Love it!!

I get the feeling Martin could combine his job commentating for the bbc with actually holding a race seat!

39

Another scoop James - thanks for keeping us all up to date with what goes on. A great, exciting video - look forward to the real thing with a crowd and dozens of cars!

40

what a shame they have to mess with a fine track,,

41

It looks awesome and the new fast right left 'S' section will be magic. I just hope the cars can't go flat through there and that they have to do a slight lift. Make them earn their money!

42

Cheers James

Cant tell you how excited I am to watch the racing over this part of the circuit - it looks like there's plenty scope for early accelerating / late braking dan-dare (thank you MArtin) manoeuvers.

Take note Bernie, Tilke is not the only person in the world who can develop serious RACING circuits

43

When I think of the horrific abomination that was Silverstone '94 spec, it's come a long way. Thankfully!

44

Awesome James. You and Martin make a great team. The new layout looks to be an improvement from a racing perspective. Glad Tilke didn't have a hand in it, or they'd have to rename it Snoreverston!

Anyway.. great exclusive! Keep it up!

(From the UK's sunniest outer colony.. SPAIN!)

🙂

45

Abbey curve looks fantastic, too much run off though! argghh!

46

James, You have a very nice job I would like to have as well, Regards 🙂

47

Thanks James for sharring these fantastic moments with us!

This is a good news, looks great, some overtaking opportunities, we still feel the Silverstone and british spirit, looks fast and safe and more important, shows everybody (including Bernie) it is possible to draw a new track that is not silly and boring... at last the best news for fans Tilke was not involved there! Congratulations to the BRDC.

48

Silverstone!

Back where it belongs. Looks superb - well done, Damon and BRDC.

Shame we won't be there this year - next year, definitely!

49

Looks gay and driven like a girl.

50

Wheeeee... looks fun!

What's the going rate to hire Brundle as a chauffeur?

51

Coolio iglesias

52

wow, great footage! thanks James and Martin!

53

The new parts to the circuit look great - maybe, just maybe there'll be a bit more overtaking with that layout.

Is this your first time in two seater Formula One car? What was it like?

54

Brilliant footage! Looks excellent. I understand this will make SIlverstone the fastest track on the f1 calendar.

Once again, great work James. Oh and Martin Brundle as well! You two always made a great team.

55

I wasn't sure when it was announced. I loved seeing the F1 cars duck up from under Bridge. Always loved Silverstone, and was worried, especially when Bahrain introduced its new infield section that lead to a snorefest.

Hands up, I'm wrong! Although we've lost a classic corner in Bridge, this new section has the potential to offer great, close racing. I honestly love it. Damon has done a great job as president of the BRDC, and also the team around him, who secured the future of the British Grand Prix.

What I do find slightly ironic, is that Silverstone went straight into this, no fuss, no worries about finance etc. Next year they're building a new Pits and Paddock complex. Although Donnington did require a lot of upgrading, I still see it as a success for Silverstone where Donnington has failed.

56

I love watching this over and over.

Be nice to have a version without the commentary, so we could just watch the driving and hear the engine.

57

I like the new section, particularly the tight twisty turns at Village which are resemblent of the final couple of turns in Istanbul where drivers will definitely be able to jostle for position. Nice to see the long straight that's usually just part of the short circuit used as it crashes into the luffield complex. damn good circuit silverstone 😀 was very very greasy though and quite clear that the silverstone car was not set up for it!

58

Missing out a very iconic corner of bridge? mmm not so sure, and then replacing it with 2 slow corners, not so good there. But 1st two corners of new section look quite tasty

59

Soooooooooo slippery... Can't wait to see it in full dry conditions, that new Abbey right hander looks ve-ry fast

60

Wow, nice piece of video, made even better by the greasy conditions.

Missing Bridge, not so good, but reprofiled Abbey looks good, and more overtaking opportunities which was one of the aimed gains of a redesign. Plus, lots more viewing area, which should mean more tickets - at probably higher again prices.

This brings the track up to standard, now for a decent paddock area. Still think it should be where the existing one is, but I can see the construction advantages of the move

61

I think it looks great,nice to see that a classic track can always be improved without losing any of its character,Maybe some of the other tracks in Europe could learn a thing or two from this,and maybe use the same people involved and not Hermann Tilke

62

Oh how i miss the days of the old Hockenheim.

63

Great post. I see the BBC have put a link to your site for this piece on their F1. How overdue has that been? Congratulations on leading the field, James. Looking forward to you being back on the box, which it seems inevitable.

64

Looks like it flows better than the last set of mods. Cannot wait to see it in action.

65

Great video James,GREAT!!!

Can you tell us a bit about the sensations and feeling when you are traveling at that speed?

How hard is the braking and cornering for your neck?

66

Thanks for this James, this is great stuff! Very impressed with the revisions. Silverstone always have in my opinion enhanced the circuit whenever they have implemented changes over time, which can't be said for most other circuits. I'm sad to see Bridge corner go, though I think the new high speed Abbey curve will more than make up for that! Hopefully there will be more opportunities to overtake with this layout too. Can't wait for British Grand Prix now!

67

It is such a suprise to see Silverstone looking like this - it definitley looks like more of a challenge for the drivers as the old style Silverstone looked like a walk in the park - however it is a shame that they have cut the best part of the circuit out with the 2 hairpins one after the other before the pit lane entrance. Oh well who can complain Damon Hill and the BRDC have done an absolutely fantastic job in not only making the circuit better but making it stand out from the rest (for example Donington) Silverstone is where F1 should remain

68

They haven't cut that bit out at all! Those two tight corners are still there!

69

James - never mind about joining him in a two seater, get back in the commentary box with him!

70

It feels like and improvement and one would surely think an increase in overtaking spots can only be a good thing. We'll have to wait until later in the summer to find the true effect of these changes!

71

Excellent artical James, shame I cant say the same about the new Silverstone layout. They have taken away the best overtaking place on the circuit and replaced it with two half chances to overtake. F1 cant handle half chances to pass so I dont think it'll work

72

It looks like a significant improvement however I'm still shedding a tear for the loss of Bridge which was my favorite corner of the previous layout for F1 cars.

73

Hang on a sec - you mean to tell us that, for the first time since 1994, someone modified an existing GP to add a fast corner, rather than remove three??

Oh yes, something has changed in F1..!

74

One thing that I really like is new fast Abbey.And they didnt relocate the start-finish straight.For me, a real British circuit means a slightly bent finish straight.So at the moment,everything is under control.

The new slow section for overtaking seems to be quite good as well.It is nicely situated between fast Abbey and reasonably long straight.Reminds me sections from Blanchimont to Bus Stop,or 130R to the chicane.It is refreshing to see something different to perfectly straight airfield like sections(think Shakhir).

75

You need to get Martin back out in the dry, ferchrissakes. Let's see what he can really do!

Oh, yeah, Martin, you need to yell "yeehaw" as you are sliding the tail around through those last few corners. =)

76

Excellent additions to make Silverstone even more exciting. BTW does that flying lap make Martin the current lap record holder? 🙂

77

I and some colleagues had the privilege of walking the majority of the Silverstone track back in March and been one of the first to walk the new section straight after the pavers finished. As my job involves testing roads mostly around Lincolnshire we were brought in for a few days to do similar testing on the whole circuit.

78

I think if Brundle went back to F1 he might show a few guys a thing or 2, Brundle raced in the Senna era and drivers at that time could go flat out knowing the risks that it can take away your life, they played with danger, but today with current F1 cars, you can still afford to take risks and get away with it, race tracks are now a lot safer.

I dont see why there is no support race which features retired drivers, you can tell by watching Brundle that he loves racing and you cant blame guys like Schumi coming back.

Silverstone is just iconic and i do hope the new UK Government that would be in power would support Silverstone and the motorsport industry.

79

This is the place to come for the inside stuff on F1. This video is a great scoop - thank you! James, I wish you could get back as commentator on TV somehow.

80

Yet another great article. I have so much admiration for Martin Brundle. He makes everything he does from commentating, to grid walks, to race analysis to driving round Silverstone and doing a commentary like he is popping to Tesco.

I don't want to be disrespectful to Jonathan Legard but I do wish it was you and Martin back together for the races. Great knowledge matched with a good chemistry.

81

Wow, after not having been too Silverstone for ages due too being boring, i will definately be there this year. Well done everyone looks great and a massive improvement.

82

AWESOME!! what a brilliant job silverstone has done in making the new circuit layout blend with the old, and keeping the feel and flow as much as possible! this surely will put silverstone at the top of the list of drivers circuits, old and new. and i love the job they have done to encourage plenty of new overtaking places throughout not only the old, but new part!

they even have got it right for spectators if they get good, big stylish stands that overlook the new section, as fans will be able to see a good thrid of the circuit from many vantage points, and with the cars dicing for position and racing, rather than parading slowly around, like nuremburg.

congratulations to the BDRC,the designers and builders too, for the quick construction of the new layout. when the new pit complex is in place, silverstone will be the top drivers and fans circuit of all the F1 tracks.

I deeply appreciate the guts the determination, the design and inventiveness, and thehard work every one involved with the project has shown in updating the circuit, and possibly exceeding the expectations of many, from motor sports organisations, racing teams, and drivers with this brilliant new circuit.

welll done! look forward to seeing it finally all completed!

83

Vast improvement over the abbey chicane and still retains the airfield feel of the circuit. just a shame a replica of bridge couldn't have be situated at the new right hander instead.

And on another note referring to the tilke designs of many recent circuits, why cant tilke (or anyone else for that matter) just go and look at a map of regular roads, preferably where there are a few hills, then invest the money into the area and create a new spa style circuit in a valley somewhere...Rouen style. imo any circuit with a large vertical displacement is immediately a winner. just gives that extra dimension (literally) over the largely flat tilke circuits. I can think of loads of old circuits that just cry out amazing race circuit, bremgarten for example or even the salzburgring. could you imagine races on serious road racing circuits like that. even the barber racing circuit in the usa produced a fantastic indy car race the other week. proper drivers circuits, that what F1 needs.

84

Maybe it was because the track was wet, maybe it was the extra load in the car, but it seemed to me with the lines that Martin took through the new corners, there are some plum overtaking opportunities. Under braking there is room for two cars before the apex arrives.

Race speed may see them disappear though

85

Hi James,

Great video, as a passenger do you need to prepare physically as does non F1 drivers every time they drive for the first time. I can also tell from Martin's voice it's very demanding doing both driving and commenting.

86

Excellent video. The track looks great now, and I think that it will be even better to watch.

Congrats to everyone involved and I am glad to see that the home of motor racing is still on the calendar.

Martin wasn't too bad at driving around the track, still has it then !!!

87

Silverstone is one of my favorites, and the new look is alright. I wouldn't say it's an improvement, but at least it hasn't destroyed the heart of the circuit. I'm going to miss watching the cars going through Bridge.

88

I have to say that I have no confidence that Silverstone will give rise to exciting racing. The only significant braking zone on the entire circuit follows a fast corner, which will be reliant on downforce to go through. As such, cars will likely not be able to follow through it to the one potential overtaking point on the entire circuit!

Silverstone is, at best, Britain's 4th best racing circuit (albeit with the highest quality facilities)

89

Hi James,

is this the first time you have been in an f1 car around a track?

also cant wait to see the modern f1 cars going through abbey in the dry.

90

i was at the fia gt1/gt3 races at the new silverstone today and i dont like the new section.

from the stands it looks very dull and the masses of tarmac runoff make it look even worse.

also, it's a bit difficult to get decent pics any more as you always have a huge run off or massive fence in front of you 🙁

also the new section didnt exactly add anything to the racing today, only pass i saw there was because the car been passed was about to retire due to engine failure.

91

Actually the new Arena GP Layout has already been used. My son was out testing his Formula Ford car on it on Wednesday the week before with quite a few others including Damon Hill's son Josh. British F3's were there as well. Unlike this week it was a bright sunny dry day and the circuit was very fast 🙂

92
Steve Hogarth

The track looks great. I just can't believe how cool Martin Brundel was!!!! I think F1 drivers have to born with ice in their veins. He was pshing the car hard in the wet and he was corecting the car all over the place and the tone in his voice did not even skip. he could have been reading a bed time story to one of his children. Mind boggling.

Well done Martin.

93

I like it. Moto GP will be a blast. This really is a cicuit in which they can stretch their legs and show us all they got.

It won't be easy to see some F1 overtaking, but then, it never is on any dry track. Nevertheless, it will be a very fast track.

94

James

great to get Martin in on the action on your website. I think hes a great guy.

Were you on board for this lap, looks like he was kicking the back out quite a lot which must be interesting sitting much farther back with limited visibility.

Any pics of the Santander F1 car you went round in? Is it one of the old two seaters from a couple of years back (were they minardis? I never remember).

95

Just got back from the GT1 weekend at Silverstone.

My negative views of the new Arena section based on paper and videos proved completely wrong, it produced some great racing. Loads of overtaking going into Village and through Aintree in all the series.

The view from the grandstand at Village is great. You can see the key Arena corners close up, and (at a distance) the Becketts/Maggots/Chapel complex, some of the Hanger Straight and right down to Stowe and Vale. Brilliant.

They really need to get some more grandstands in there, there is only one small one at the moment - presume it is planned otherwise calling the new section an "Arena" seems kinda strange! 🙂

The track commentators did a great job as always at Silverstone, but clearly have not got the new section down yet - was called a mix of the "Stadium", the "Loop", the "Complex" and the "Arena" throughout the weekend. Kinda amusing.

Overall a big thumbs up from me - good improvement to the circuit. Hopefully it will provide racing in F1 will matches today.

96

James and the rest of the crew: Silverstone is a national treasure and an almost sacred place for racing fans (for me, at least). Year after year we have had great races here. I just love that track and few corners are still the best in use today.

The thing is: was is REALLY necessary the new design? I mean, I really like it, the new stright with two very fast corners is good. But my question is: is it really better than the previous version?

Oh, James, thanks for the great video!!!!

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