Silverstone boss explains why they didn’t use Tilke for Arena track upgrades

Silverstone's new sequence was designed by Populous

Silverstone’s new sequence was designed by Populous

Circuit designer Hermann Tilke’s company enjoys a near monopoly on Formula 1 track design. But he has also been criticised for producing unexciting racing venues.

Silverstone managing director Richard Phillips said they chose rival company Populous to produce their new Arena circuit because they didn’t want to risk someone ‘;wrecking’ the track.

Speaking exclusively to F1 Fanatic Phillips said:

We’ve had good, solid input from riders and drivers – people who are not going to wreck what is already a fantastic circuit.

If we had gone a more traditional route we may not have got the best result.

We thought that if we were going to change the track we should take care of the circuit first, fit in the run-off areas, and then sort out the buildings afterwards.
Richard Phillips

Silverstone enlisted design company Populous, who also created the Dubai Autodrome in the United Arab Emirate.

The most dramatic part of the new track is the high speed Abbey and Farm corners, which F1 cars are expected to take at around 185mph. This was originally designed as a slower corner, but according to Phillips they revised the design after getting feedback from F1 drivers:

Abbey went through a lot of design changes. At first it was quite a right-angle on the way in, but the F1 and Moto GP drivers challenged that so we opened it up, and then we opened it up some more. Now everyone is saying it’s a great corner.
Richard Phillips

He also explained the other changes to the track:

The Grand Prix track – which is now called the Bridge Circuit – is still a fantastic track. But Moto GP are unable to run on the Bridge Circuit because of the bridge and also because the chicane they had to use was not very popular.

We took the opportunity to create something the BRDC and the country can be proud of and we went through 15 different designs to do it.

At Becketts we have F1 and Moto GP versions of the track. F1 cars will go the same way as before, the Moto GP version is more open. But it also means we can separate the routes here so we can have three different circuits in operation at once.

Club is now boxier than it used to be. The old piece of tarmac here is now the run-off, and the new piece of track will be used by both Moto GP and F1. It is possible to reinstate the old track if we choose. We changed it to reduce the speed of the exit, but the early feedback from people who’ve been through it in cars is it’s made the corner more challenging.
Richard Phillips

Phillips said he’s happy with the early reaction to the circuit:

The feedback on the circuit so far has been extremely good. We’ve done a limited amount of testing up until now, but now we’ve had F1 cars and Moto GP-type bikes running on it for the first rime and the early signs are encouraging.
Richard Phillips

When the pits are the track will have a unique feature among F1 facilities: the Formula 1 race will have its pits and start/finish line on a different part of the track to the support races.

GP2 and the like will continue to use the existing garages and start line between Woodcote and Copse, while the F1 race will start on the straight after Club and the first corner will be the revised Abbey bend. This will happen by 2012 and could happen as early as next year:

The pits are contracted to be complete for 2012. At the moment we’re on schedule to finish them in April or May next year, so we may have them for F1 in 2011.

F1 will use the new pits but support races will continue to be based at the old pits and will use the old start line. So spectators coming to the race will have the choice of two sets of pits to sit opposite.
Richard Phillips

Silverstone Arena circuit

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100 comments on Silverstone boss explains why they didn’t use Tilke for Arena track upgrades

  1. I always thought Dubai Autodrome was one of the few good modern tracks. Why don’t we race there anymore? I was under the illusion that it was Tilke-Designed but evidently not. Tilke really didn’t do anything decent appart from Sepang, did he?

  2. KubiWDC said on 29th April 2010, 20:15

    Best thing about Sepang is, it rains almost every time. But the best Tilke ever made is turn 8 at Istanbul Park

  3. Spud said on 29th April 2010, 20:27

    Richard Phillips is a brutally honest man. I like it.

  4. Icthyes said on 29th April 2010, 20:29

    You can tell why they didn’t use Tilke just by looking at it.

    With such a sharp right-hander before the hairpin, hopefully we’ll see a lot of of punch and counter-punch manoeuvres. The long run to Luffield should also provide another place to pass.

    And though the traditionalist in me is a bit lukewarm to the idea of moving the start/finish onto the back straight, it would make for some very exciting starts!

    Above all though, it just proves how mad Bernie was to consider removing Silverstone from the calendar!

  5. statix said on 29th April 2010, 21:06

    Tilke = big mistake. He should design children playgrounds maybe…

    • BasCB said on 30th April 2010, 6:21

      To be fair to Tilke, the FIA guidelines so pretty restricting and as Prisoner Monkeys points out above Tilke is listening to feedback from drivers for the India track as well.
      So let us not give up hope.

    • F1 Novice said on 30th April 2010, 10:46

      Nah they would be too safe – kids these day need to be made aware that danger does actually exist in the real world rather than wrap them up in cotton wool to much as modern F1 drivers seem to be with Tilke’s tracks. :(

  6. Robert McKay said on 29th April 2010, 21:11

    “If we had gone a more traditional route we may not have got the best result.”

    Meooowww!

    But well said…Tilke may well be hamstrung by the regs but I still think more different circuit designers will foster a bit of rivalry, as well as new ideas.

  7. James Scantlebury said on 29th April 2010, 21:28

    Looks good!

    The only way to improve the track would be by turning Brooklands into a 90 right, into a longer Luffield, so they have a good overtaking spot at Brooklands, and struggle to get on the power at Luffield. Then it would be perfect!

  8. samakafuzzy said on 29th April 2010, 22:22

    All they need to do is elongate Luffield, and make Stowe slightle Tighter and sharper on the outside, as it’s a bit too easy now in the current cars

  9. What do you think Tilke will make of the new circuit?

  10. I’m amazed that architects are actually able to design what is essentially a road. Most architects I’ve dealt with do not seem to be understand the concept of circular curves and straights tangential to those curves, both of which are basic elements of road design.

    How about some kudos for the engineers? Afterall they are ones that take any Architects concept and turn it into reality.

  11. Chapmondo said on 29th April 2010, 23:34

    If Tilke had done it he would simply just have destroyed the maggots and becketts complex… as they are good corners :p

    • wasiF1 said on 30th April 2010, 2:00

      Tilke could have destroyed the whole circuit, then in July you may find some similarities between this & lot of Asian tracks.

  12. MigueLP said on 30th April 2010, 1:45

    Phillips said he’s happy with the early reaction to the circuit:

    The feedback …”rime” and the early signs are encouraging.

    small mistake

  13. wasiF1 said on 30th April 2010, 1:59

    Way to go Silverstone, I ma happy that they didn’t took Tilke on board with them. I think we had enough of Tilke BORING track now lets have something different.

  14. Eric M. said on 30th April 2010, 2:26

    I have to say I’m really impressed by this redesign, and can’t wait to see the cars go full pelt through the new sections. I’m also surprised at the pace of construction. It didn’t seem to take very long at all.

    I’m not as anti-Tilke as I used to be, but I’m really tired of the Tilke monopoly, and I hope that for future circuits Populous’ name can be thrown into the hat too. Bernie wants circuits in New York and Moscow, so that’s two potential design opportunities right there (though one is more likely than the other ;) ). I’m curious to see what the Populous design team can do working from scratch, with no existing circuit to work from.

  15. GALBA CUNHA said on 30th April 2010, 2:58

    Keith,aprovado mas com restrição.Retiraram a ponte por causa da MOTO GP?!

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