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Wet day’s running at Silverstone as Ecclestone praises track architects
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Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Jul 2011   |  2:35 pm GMT  |  30 comments

Although the crowd pouring into Silverstone this morning was comparable in size to a race day crowd at many F1 venues, they were treated to a damp day’s action. There was heavy rain before both the morning and afternoon sessions and the track took some time to dry out.

This cut back on the meaningful running teams were able to do on their updated parts, particularly in light of the ban on off-throttle diffusers. Mark Webber set the pace in the faster of the two sessions in the morning, Felipe Massa was fastest in the afternoon.

The forecast for Saturday is sunny with possible showers in the afternoon, but it looks like race day will be dry and sunny.

Meanwhile in a move that will surprise many F1 fans, Bernie Ecclestone has suggested that new promoters wanting to build a Grand Prix circuit should consider working with Populous, the architects of the new look Silverstone circuit.

Most of the new circuits in recent years have been the work of Hermann Tilke, the German architect behind F1 circuits in Valencia, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Istanbul, Korea, India and Shanghai.

Although the more recent Tilke tracks have some exciting qualities, particularly Istanbul and Abu Dhabi, there is a growing groundswell of opinion among fans that the circuits are dull.

Speaking to me on Wednesday, Ecclestone said he now doesn’t just send prospective GP promoters to Silverstone, “Better than that,” he said. “Somebody was building a new circuit and I said to them, why don’t you go and find the architects who built it and use them?”

He added of the quality of Silverstone as a facility today, “Ten Years ago it couldn’t happen, they could never do what we wanted. But they’ve made a very, very good job of it. I’m delighted. It’s a pity it’s taken 10 years to get there.”

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30 Comments
  1. Tommy says:

    Probably nothing, but thought I’d share an observation!

    I notice the top 12 in today’s second practice are almost exclusively powered by Mercedes or Ferrari engines. The bottom 12 by Renault or Cosworth. All change as a consequence of the blown diffuser rule change, or just coincidence?

    Either way, keep up the fantastic insight, James!

  2. DMyers says:

    The most exciting thing about Abu Dhabi is the fancy hotel, and Istanbul is one of the relatively older Tilke curcuits. James, James, James! Tsk tsk ;-)

    1. Wayne says:

      James why does the FIA stop introducing crazy gimmicks and just design tracks where overtaking is possible? Turky, Belgiumm, Canada and the UK have such tracks. Why is it not just that simple?

  3. Wow!… A hige move from Bernie who used to slack Silverstone and the BRDC at any opportunity. Is he mellowing with age? :-)

    Huge twitter crowd out there. I don’t recall having such an exchange with spectators on the grounds at any other race whilst being at home.

    Plenty of twitpic and yfrog images of the new the facilities that look great.

    @charlie_whiting (the fake one) even reported the that “if you “read” the Silverstone wing from right to left, it mirrors the Williams’ stock price.”

    Twitter is definitely the place to be when not much is happening on the track – as discussed in the recent FOTA Fan Forums in Montreal and London.

    1. Andy c says:

      Not quite. He still ended it with shame it took 10 years to get there… ;-)

  4. Farina says:

    James, can you confirm the FIA are now allowing cold blowing up too 68% open throttle? Seems like they have just handed the championship to RBR. May as well not have a ban at all. So teh time line is

    FIA announce a ban.
    FIA retract the ban under protest from RBR
    FIA announce a ban from Silverstone
    FIA change the ban under protest from Renault on the Friday during/after practice sessions. So teh teams that were working towards what they thought the ban was going to be have been wasting time/money.

    Why bother? This sport is laughable sometimes.

  5. Dave Aston says:

    Just saw footage of Kobayashi’s moment… if that car had turned over, it could have been truly monumental… He’s a lucky chap.

    1. Criscles says:

      I was scarily filled with memories of Gregg Moore’s fatal Indycar shunt which mirrors Koba’s near miss.

  6. Kam says:

    Bernie…firm, but fair.

  7. unoc12 says:

    !!!! Finally!! Hopefully max 2 tracks per designer…

    Best news all day

  8. rossco says:

    Hi James have you heard anymore regarding the blown diffuser issue the bbc website is stating that the rules have changed again after renaults complaint. It also states that Martin and Christian had a row regarding the issue.

  9. Phil R says:

    Abu dhabi exciting???

  10. goferet says:

    Bless the crowd at Silverstone who got drenched out there today just to watch some action. If there’s any proof that Britain should have two Grand Prix again in a season, this was it.

    In a way, am glad the teams especially Mclaren couldn’t show their true hand because of the conditions for it would be much better if Red Bull get caught off their guard come qualifying for Vettel & his drinks company have totally picked the wrong track/Fort to try & win.

    Yes Vettel has just stepped into the lions’ den this weekend & the roar of the British fans alone will scare him off the track, leaving the British drivers to firmly put him in his place :)

    Though I expect baby Schumi will grab pole again, thankfully Silverstone rarely favours the pole sitter.

    And oh, how’s this for déjà vu, back in 2008, Hamilton arrived at Silverstone 4th in the WDC standings after crashing out in Canada & the press all over his back & guess what he won it for the Queen & country.

    I expect Lewis to qualify 4th again just like 2008 & leave the competition in his wake then go ahead to win the 2011 WDC.

    Bring it on …

    1. Mark V. says:

      I used to like how there were two GP’s in Italy (sorry I can’t say I recall two British GP’s), and I can’t say I think Spain’s current status with two races gets fans (outside Spain) excited.

      Since there are so many GPs already, maybe a country’s second GP can be a rotating thing like alpine skiing’s “Kandahar” downhill race that is held at one of three or four resorts in the Alps each year.

  11. irish con says:

    seen theres been a row, i was wondering because you could clearly hear webbers car still with the big awful off throttle noise it was making. why not just say go back to 2009 style engine setting. ban all over runs.

  12. Is there any reason why all the sessions started an hour early? The race kicks off at 13:00 so why the difference? I was very disappointed to hear that Bridge corner has now gone. Looking down on the cars with your back on the bridge gave a real appreciation of the cornering speed. It was the same at Barcelona and the last corner before the final corner (50m before the pit entrance. You could stand in the mini stand watching the cars accelerate towards you before flipping to your left….unbelievable. But now that gone too as they introduced that silly chicane.

  13. S.J.M says:

    Variety they say, is the spice of life, and it was never going to be healthy to have 1 man and his dog design every track that the F1 circus goes to.

    Hopefully Sunday can produce a good enough race to match the occasion, personally id love to see one of the Brits standing on the podium #1 place…. and maybe the #2 & #3 too!

  14. Jimmi C says:

    I know I am going to sound like a patriotic drum-beating jingoist here, but it’s amazing to think that a track that is universally loved by drivers, and can boast packed grandstands on a wet and miserable Friday practise, had to fight to keep hold of the race. Compared to some lifeless tracks and their attendences, Bernie should’ve been begging Silverstone to bother putting the effort into hosting any more British GP’s.

    At a time when Sepp Blatter is being hammered for taking the World Cup (on the back of a back-hander) to a country with minimal interest in the sport, wouldn’t it be nice if F1 could go where the demand is as opposed to where the rich owners are?

    1. David says:

      It isn’t. Heidfeld is critical, plus a number of others who haven’t commented publicly particularly. They liked the old track configuration more than the new apparently.

    2. Andy c says:

      I shall be pushing for you to get an mbe! Exactly on the money there my friend!

  15. Dave Aston says:

    2.30 am in Sydney, I just read of Bill Boddy’s passing. What a remarkable man and superb journalist. I’m thinking of his family and loved ones, and of the people the world over who relate stories of the sport for it’s fans, and for whom he was such a trailblazer.
    What a man, and what an incredible life.

  16. kent says:

    i agree that Tilke’s tracks are poor, and would prefer new tracks be built by someone else. it is curious that purpose-built tracks like his cannot match up to a place like Spa that came together by happenstance.
    more to the point, can’t Bernie or the FIA charge Tilke, or someone else, with improving or modifying those tracks of his that are widely known to produce dull races? it could’t be that hard to do.

  17. CJM says:

    I’m not sure of the exact timeline here (perhaps someone can correct me) but weren’t the Silverstone upgrades that Bernie is praising/promoting finally made for – and because of – the newly acquired MotoGP event (with F1 scheduled for Donnington Park)?

    If I’m right, was it the absence of F1 at the time that opened the door to a designer other than Tilke?

  18. Robert says:

    Great view of the FIA and Hispania garages from the new Pit Straight grand stand.

    Shame that Red Bull and McLaren cannot be seen !

    Why on earth have the top teams been placed at the Abbey end, where the pit garages cannot be properly seen by fans in the new grandstand ?

    Last year I commented that the new pit lane would not be visible from the main grand stand and the architect replied. The explanation was fine, but why now place the top teams in the garages with the worst view.

    Anything to do with the Silverstone Wing corporate viewing balcony only being at the Abbey end ?

    James, please can you investigate.

    Feeling ever so slightly damp ………….the weather was cruel today.

  19. Quercus says:

    Looks like there’s more upset over ‘exhaust blown gasses’. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/formula_one/14076892.stm

    Problem is, as fans, we don’t know what to make of it. So has RB or McLaren now got the upper hand? I thought the issue was supposed to disappear at Silverstone?

  20. Marc says:

    If I remember properly, Tilke’s circuits were designed to help overtaking. At least that is what the press at the time reported. For an odd exception or two, The lack of overtaking is possibly due more to the cars than the tracks. I still believe having one designer, involve in all new tracks, is not the wisest choice made. Marc

  21. theRoswellite says:

    If Bernie thinks fans have only recently been complaining about the cookie-cutter nature of the Tilke tracks he is a bit more insular than I suspected.

  22. Robert Lujan says:

    Bernie is never happy. What he thinks doesn’t matter to the average TV viewer anyways. But to be honest Tilke needs to go. The tracks his team designs are boring. It should be that different designers be called in and not just using one single firm. That would really spice things up. But F1 is like that I guess. Like Pork Barrel politics in the U.S. Get friends brothers, sisters cousins, nephews house keeper in on the action….

  23. Bill Day says:

    Ever notice how whenever Bernie compliments somebody, he makes a point of insulting them in the same sentence?

  24. brendan says:

    the pit building is great….and good for the teams…

    but look at the state of the track! the number of puddles show how poorly the track surface is.

    frankly its a bit of a mess.

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