Silverstone opens new Arena circuit, expects cars to hit 185mph at Abbey

David Coulthard performs the first doughnuts on Silverstone's new Village cornerq

David Coulthard performs the first doughnuts on Silverstone's new Village corner

The revised Silverstone Arena Circuit, which will hold the 2010 British Grand Prix, was formally opened today by the Duke of York in a ceremony at the track.

BRDC President Damon Hill drove the Duke around the circuit. Current and past F1 drivers were on hand for the unveiling of the track including Mark Webber and David Coulthard.

Webber praised the new circuit and said he expects it to play to the strengths of his 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.
Mark Webber

Red Bull estimate F1 cars will hit 185mph through the two fast corners which direct them off the old track. The right-hander keeps the name Abbey, and the left-hander it feeds into is called Farm.

They are now followed by a sharp right at Village, then a pair of left-handers called The Loop. From there the cars re-join the existing track via the Wellington Straight, which could surpass the Hangar Straight as the fastest point on the Silverstone circuit when the F1 cars race there in July.

The revised track is expected to have a similar average speed to the previous track, with a slightly longer lap time.

David Coulthard became the first person to drive an F1 car around the new circuit after its official opening, piloting the Red Bull running showcar. His first impressions of the new section were positive and he feels the track has retained its high-speed character:

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.
David Coulthard

Damon Hill praised the construction work done to prepare the new circuit – with one access road only being completed the day before the opening. A harsh winter with weeks of heavy snow delayed the building work. Hill said:

The team have done a fantastic job under very difficult circumstances.
Damon Hill

He also declared his relief that after years of dispute Silverstone finally has a long-term contract to hold the British Grand Prix:

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.
Damon Hill

The circuit extension was formally opened by the Duke of York who said:

High performance engineering is very important to the UK economy. Motor sport is at the pinnacle of this industry and it’s through events like Formula 1 and bikes that we can demonstrate our expertise. I hope the future will be bright for Formula 1 and high performance engineering in the UK.

He was later taken around the track in a two-seater racing car by Hill. “He hasn’t been around the circuit yet” said the Duke. “I’m not sure what I’m letting myself in for.”

Silverstone managing director Richard Phillips explained that the need to re-configure the track came from the desire to accommodate Moto GP, which has moved its British round from Donington to Silverstone:

The old bike circuit with the chicane in front of the pits wasn’t very well-liked. This whole section was needed so that we could avoid Bridge.

More work will be done before the Grand Prix. The grandstand in front of Village will be ten times larger and raised higher to improve the sight lines for the spectators.

It’s been inspected by FIA and has grade one licence for the next three years. Bernie Ecclestone has said he likes the track but he hasn’t been to see it yet. It would have been nice to see him here today, but he doesn’t like large gatherings.
Richard Phillips

The Silverstone Arena track will hold its first major international race meeting this weekend – the GT1 series – ahead of the British Grand Prix in July.

Update: Read more of Phillips’ thoughts on the track here: Silverstone boss explains why they didn?t use Tilke for Arena track upgrades

Silverstone Arena launch pictures

Silverstone Arena circuit

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76 comments on Silverstone opens new Arena circuit, expects cars to hit 185mph at Abbey

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  1. Looks good on paper, lets wait and see, will it work for us?
    It’s nice to see Tilke did not have his hands on this project!

    • MigueLP said on 29th April 2010, 20:59

      maybe tilke woudnt have changed the last sector (just the last corners are included) which was my favourite part of the circuit somehow e could have maintened that part alive

  2. At least they have attempted to name the corners unlike most new F1 tracks.

    I have one problem with this new development – why are they changing Chapel?

  3. Just a bit more of the same, Red Bull will win it again this year

    • sato113 said on 29th April 2010, 15:38

      the mclaren’s advanced f-duct will be a massive advantage at this circuit.

      • Scribe said on 29th April 2010, 16:01

        I think there are four distinct straights where the F-Duct will be noticable on this circuit.

        On the other hand by that time you’d have to assume that other teams will have at least working F-Ducts.

        • BasCB said on 30th April 2010, 6:26

          So we can have a nice comparison of the different interpretations. Will the McLaren have the advantage by getting at it firs, or will anybody be able to design, incorporate it into the car and race a more effective system?

  4. Chalky said on 29th April 2010, 15:08

    I’m still waiting to find out what happens to those who have tickets for Abbey? The old Abbey grandstand is too far away and looking at a now redundant part of the track.

    Haven’t seen any new grandstand go up yet or any mention of a new seating arrangement.

    • BasCB said on 30th April 2010, 5:53

      In the article Keith quotes Richard Phillips as saying

      More work will be done before the Grand Prix. The grandstand in front of Village will be ten times larger and raised higher to improve the sight lines for the spectators.

      I suppose the work will include the move of the Abbey grandstand (to the other side of the track) they promised when first introducing the arena part.

  5. Can anyone confirm if the new infield section will be used for the FIA GT this coming weekend?

    Looks great by the way, can’t wait to get there and see it for myself :-)

  6. VitaRedux said on 29th April 2010, 15:24

    I think it looks good, I can see some interesting potential for overtaking on the outside of turn 16.
    But I agree the old shape to Chapel was better allowing drivers to begin accelerating into Hanger Straight. Its a bit too tight and keeps the speed down until they’re right out.
    Also looks like they’ve kind of straightened up the entry and sharpened the corner at Club, or am I mistaken?

  7. I think it will add about as much to the F1 spectacle as the new loop at Bahrain. Should at least be good for the bikes, though.

    • Ned Flanders said on 29th April 2010, 15:35

      How come? They’ve added a few fast corners and a couple of genuine overtaking spots. The new corners at Bahrain were all pathetic, with the exception of Turn 6. Plus, they reckon Silverstone will become the worlds fastest circuit, which is quite an accolade

      • Scribe said on 29th April 2010, 16:07

        Fastest, really? I’m fairly sure Monza won’t have any trouble retaining that crown.

        Still this is certainly a better improvment than adding an endurance section. Two new possible overtaking spots a fast bendy straight an a long flat.

        I’m cautiously optimistic about this change, at least it’ll be wide, might improve the track, hard to see how it’ll ruin it, doesn’t seem to have altered it’s character like the Bahrain extention, wish “the loop” was still a single hairpin.

        • What do they mean by fastest? If it is highest top speed I would have thought Monza would have that title, but if they meant fastest average lap speed I could well believe that would be possible for Silverstone to claim.

          Wasn’t the record for the fastest lap ever in F1 held by Silverstone from a qualifying lap by Keke Rosberg in a Williams Honda at the 1985 British GP until Juan Pablo Montoya beat it at Monza in 2002 in a Williams BMW.

      • “Genuine overtaking spots?” There are two new heavy braking zones, but the previous corners are too fast for any F1 car to follow closely and pull an overtaking move. All the new section serves to do is elongate the track without adding anything to the spectacle – exactly the same as Bahrain.

        • Scribe said on 29th April 2010, 16:47

          Well, possible overtaking spots where there were none an a simular feel to the rest of the circuit. Rather different to Bahrain.

          Silverstone is a ciruit that can often produce boring races, this new section won’t make that any more likley might make it less likley, completley the opposite to Bahrain, though of course pre-change Bahrain was capable of causing zzzzz.

          As track changes go it all feels a lot more thought out, an we must remember that the BRDC doesn’t only have us to worry about, hopefully it will create a great motoGP track an improve the cicuit for other discaplines.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 29th April 2010, 17:37

          All the new section serves to do is elongate the track without adding anything to the spectacle – exactly the same as Bahrain.

          The new Abbey looks very promising.

          And there’s now a long, straight run towards Brooklands, preceded by a slow corner, which could provide an opportunity.

          I say these changes are vastly better thought-out than using the sports car track at Bahrain was.

          • Gilles said on 29th April 2010, 19:43

            I agree, it looks a lot better now. I hope it’ll be a stunning race !
            Way better thought out than Bahrain, those guys should come and take a look how you revamp a circuit.

    • vitaredux said on 29th April 2010, 18:03

      Now a loop really would be good. Do F1 cars have enough downforce for that? That would really improve the show :)

  8. Chapmondo said on 29th April 2010, 15:30

    Is there any need for the tight left hander at Vale, why not use the little short cut bit. It will make following right hander much more demanding and faster.

  9. Schumi_the_greatest said on 29th April 2010, 15:30

    Why do they have to avoid bridge for moto gp? pardon my ingorance i dont know much about moto gp. Bridge was 1 of the best corners left in f1

  10. Ned Flanders said on 29th April 2010, 15:32

    The new right- left at Abbey looks as though it might be one of the very best corners in F1. I just hope it’s not easy flat out.

    What model car is that Mercedes in the picture? It doesn’t look like their 2010 car or last years Brawn. Maybe they’ve just updated the nose cone for the next race?

  11. tobinen said on 29th April 2010, 15:34

    Pity Bridge has gone but I think it should still be a good track. As long as it keeps its speed!

  12. I assume Richard Phillips had his tongue lodged firmly in his cheek – Bernie doesn’t like large gatherings?!

    You can see how much he hates wandering around on the grid in Monaco with Naomi Campbell every year…

    • F1 Novice said on 30th April 2010, 19:42

      It must be hard bumping in to all those knee caps all the time – maybe that’s why Bernie’s face looks so dishevelled/pinched :)

  13. Kevin said on 29th April 2010, 15:37

    That’s the interim 2008/2009 honda test car in Merecedes colours

  14. George said on 29th April 2010, 15:55

    Its not made it worse, but its only made it slightly better. I think we all love to see cars going nearly flat-out through corners and into chicanes.

  15. Scribe said on 29th April 2010, 16:13

    I don’t know why they didn’t go for the arrowhead configuration for F1 cars. I’m sure it might be dangerous for bikers but I wish they’d built both, which depending where they put the grandstands surley wouldn’t have been imposible.

    A proper hairpin would have created an overtaking spot like the one in Malaysia, long double straight, sharp non-downforce dependant corner. “The Loop” will probably just space the cars out.

    Damon Hill said this configuration wasn’t what he originally wanted, an I hope it’ll improve the track, still arrowhead looked so good I still hope they build it.

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