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Silverstone future proofed as it opens new facilities
Silverstone future proofed as it opens new facilities
Posted By: James Allen  |  17 May 2011   |  3:07 pm GMT  |  36 comments

The British Racing Drivers’ Club today unveiled its £27 million new “Wing” – a state of the art pit building which puts the circuit on a par with most Grand Prix venues around the world.

The Wing is the culmination of a painfully long and drawn out process stretching back over a decade with Bernie Ecclestone pressuring the BRDC to improve its facilities and the club making cautious steps so as to avoid financial ruin.

Ecclestone was not present at today’s opening by HRH The Duke of Kent, but he sent a message, saying that the facilities set Silverstone up for the future, “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, ” he said. “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.”

It was a very confident and upbeat presentation with a huge cast reflecting Britain’s pivotal role in the development of motor sport and its success.

Five of the six living British F1 world champions and some British GP winners were on hand including Nigel Mansell, Jenson Button, Jackie Stewart, David Coulthard and Johnny Herbert who joined fellow winner and BRDC president Damon Hill in talking about how important this building is in securing the future of the British Grand Prix. “It’s important that we were able to do this,” said Hill. “We could have lost the GP and this place secured the contract. Keeps Britain on top.”

Hill talked about the time when Silverstone thought it had lost the race to Donington and then with the failure of that project how they were able to negotiate a long contract for the future based around the new facility.

Ross Brawn was also on hand and made the important point that Silverstone is one of F1’s great assets along with Ferrari and one or two other circuits, “The history of Silverstone cannot be manufactured. It’s unique and we had to preserve it, “ he said.

The new pit lane is intriguing as it is at a lower level than the pit straight and the cars feed uphill to go back onto the race track on the outside of the new first corner.

The enormous Wing is an echo of Silverstone’s past as an air force base during World War 2. It was designed by London architects Populous, who also redesigned the circuit last year and who have worked on projects like the Emirate Stadium, the new Wembley Stadium and even the new Olympic Stadium. The Wing will become the visual symbol of Silverstone, something it has always lacked as an airfield circuit. It has clearly been decided that having an iconic building makes a statement and it can be done at a reasonable cost compared to the build costs of new F1 venues like Delhi and Austin, Texas.

The Wing is not completely finished yet, certainly there is quite a lot still to be done on the interior, but its vast halls and rooms have a multitude of possible applications all year round, independent of F1 or of motor racing.

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I have to ask “what was wrong with the old pits”, why were the brbc forced to spend so much money. the facilities at silverstone are far better than most tracks in europe, i say this as someone who works in motorsport so see this first hand. While its great that there is now a new building i have to ask why.


.. because Eccle$tone said so.


seems grand, but does it really make a difference to anyone other than journalists and the wealthiest 2% of spectators? it seems the press talks a lot about modern facilities, but does it enhance the experience of most ticket holders or any of the TV audience?


+1, I don’t care if the drivers have to sleep in tents, if the paddocks are tiny, uncomfortable, etc…

As long as the circuit is great, it’s ok for me; The most striking example in that respect is Sao Paolo. Besides the track & atmosphere, nothing is nice in the circuit. They even need a horn when a car comes to pits to avoid accidents. Add to that the security issues.

But the track is great & offer great racing and that’s what matters.

The only exception is Abu Dhabi & Singapore. I think that the night race & the twilight are absolutely stunning & unique & they add to the magic of F1 despite poor tracks.


Fair point. It’s significant as a symbol of a new era for Silverstone after years of appearing like it was ‘ hanging on’ in F1.


James, maybe slightly off subject, but given that its the same circuit layout, but the paddock is in a different position, would the official circuit records from last year be scrapped?


As far as I know the track is unchanged so no


I’ve seen the new ‘Wing’ facility and I think it’s good enough. Not stunning in the way that some of the new F/Mid.Eastern circuits are, but an effective layout with quality commensurate with the budget – no probs with that ! Good Job, sensibly done.

I have to say though that the new circuit layout at Silverstone is – in my opinion – superb. We should get Popolous to design a few more tracks.

I remember Barnes Wallis comments when he was sent a bunch of Oxford physicists to help with the bouncing bomb. He threw them out, with the comment that the last thing he needed was experts. He wanted people who knew nothing about physics or engineering, as they would most likely come up with the freshest most innovative ideas.

Not sure if this tallies with Popolous, but whatever, they did a great job. Thank Christ Tilke was out that day !

One last point – both the GP and MotoGP guys had probs with the famous ‘BUMP’. For once they had to drive ! So why the hell has that section now been sanitized and smoothed over – that was one of the best bits – watching the cars re-balance and the bikes try to avoid it. Or did it make it a little too challenging for the poor dears.


“Or did it make it a little too challenging for the poor dears.”

Exactly my thoughts when I heard, “it’s too bumpy”. Increase your ride height, isn’t that what setup is about.

But I disagree with, “Not stunning in the way that some of the new F/Mid.Eastern circuits are”. Those need to have stunning facilities to distract everyone from the lifeless track and empty grandstands. No one will be paying attention to a building on race day at Silverstone.


Agree, Populous seem to really know what they are about


Is there any reason why you can’t provide a few links, when appropriate, James? Like this one…


Not sure of significance of this one…

I did a link to Guardian story on Newey this morning…do quite often actually


I have only seen a couple of photos, but am rather concerned about how the team personnel get from the garage to the timing wall. They would seem to have to walk half the length of the pits to get to concrete stairs and then back behind other team positions. Obviously not acceptable to have rivals peering over shoulders, also the temptation to jump down from the wall will be great and then they will be in the pit fast lane.

Hopefully I am wrong but it certainly looked like this.

As to the exit being uphill, so is Brands, and others. (I mention Brands only because I knew it so well years ago, but it was uphill and straight into Paddock on the wrong side of the track.) What it means is a very restricted view of what is coming down the straight at you as you exit the pits. If someone is coming up the inside an incident can occur!

The new start/finish means a flat right then flat left then sharp right then three more lefts in a row, so changing the advantage of shortest route from pole which I assume will be on the right, and giving it to the left after two corners, so whoever is in front into Village will likely be the leader until DRS kicks in.


Don’t worry Jonrob each location on the pitwall has their own set of stairs. It’s the same as Bernie’s own circuit Paul Ricard in France. It was angled to open up sightlines down the pitlane, from Race Control, and from the Club Grandstands


Where was Lewis?


Looks like a very cool building. Old Bernard has to get one last dig in doesnt he?


Lets hope that FOTA will get the last word with Bernie very soon with the F1 negotiations!


Lloks really impressive. Well done BRDC, and great to see the turn out of current British champions supporting the circuits rebirth. can’t wait for 8th July to see it all for real.

Adrian Jordan

With one very noticeable exception…

…only 1 of the current McLaren drivers was there…


How this track so nearly lost the British Grand Prix was a disgrace and showed us all everything that’s wrong with how F1 is run.

The few tracks with the history they hold should be cast in stone as F1 venues otherwise sooner or later we’d have even more soulless races on empty soulless tracks.

Long live Silverstone and well done to Mr Hill, top bloke! (Shame Frank Williams reneged on the verbal contract he agreed with him which saw the end of Hill as a contender)


Au Contraire. Bernie got his way, simple.

And I’m glad he did…. let’s face it, it needed upgrading. Desperately.


On the plus side, at least the whole Donington fiasco did ultimately get Silverstone a long contract on more favourable terms, as it became clear no-one else was capable of hosting the British GP.


Good point


@Jonathan: Donington is well on the way to recovery, they have plenty of racing this year including FIA WTCC. Apparently the facilities were below par and the place was still a bit of a building site for the World Superbikes back in March, but I’m sure they will improve over time.

Jonathan Lodge

but what a horrific episode for Donnington. Nearly destroyed it – will it ever recover?

Renaud Clarke

Thanks James, Can’t wait to see it, Only a few months to go before the GP. Have you got any more photo’s we can see?



I cant wait to visit it after many years in the pipeline


I’m looking forward to it too, but having bought grand prix tickets for the grandstand opposite, it is a huge disappointment that the pit lane is on a lower level. Considering the extra height of the pit wall setups, and we won’t be able to see the pit stops at all! Why have they done this? Looks great apart from that…


Don’t panic Daniel you can see all of the garages, from the Grandstands, except the last 7 or 8, so you will see all the pitstops from all the top teams. In fact the start of the pitlane is higher then the track level so the view in is really good.


Thanks for putting my mind at rest! If that’s the case then the whole thing looks absolutely awesome and can’t wait for the grand prix…


Agreed, it will be ok if your at the bottom of the hill, but the top, i presume you will struggle for a good pit-stop view


Looks amazing, Ive just watched the intro video on the website, so pleased this has happened for Britain, and that Silverstone is home of the British GP for the next 17 years! Man I’ll be in my 50’s by then!

Who’s glad this didnt go to Donnington??


That video does look pretty cool. I’m glad that Silverstone is around for a significant while. It is a great venue, and as Ross Brawn said its “one of F1’s great assets”.

I’m glad Silverstone has remained, but then again wouldn’t it be cool to have the European GP based in Britain as well!!


James, is there any truth to the rumour about exhaust blown diffusers being banned from the Spanish GP onwards?

Thanks. 🙂


No more off throttle engine mapping to keep exhaust flowing. Some of these regulations sound like a Monty Python skit. We can assume that this regulation change comes from a derivative version of the “Ferrari veto”. Any bets how long it is until Red Bull’s front tires are ruled to be too wide?

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