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

  1. Adam said on 29th April 2010, 16:14

    I desperately didn’t want that shambles that was the Donnington bid to succeed.

    I was overjoyed to hear that Silverstone had been awarded the event.

    Now I am, of course, delighted to have spend £700 on tickets at Luffield to be presented with less time with the cars in my field of view.

    Appalling, Silverstone. I don’t think I’ll be returning.

    • Scribe said on 29th April 2010, 16:49

      I’m rather annoyed by the new start finish Grandstands. Surley if the put them on the other side of the track everyone would be able to see more.

    • Eric M. said on 30th April 2010, 0:22

      You might see them less, but the fact that they are going through Brooklands and into Luffield at higher speeds than before could make it more fun to watch, IMO.

      As for the ticket price, well, that’s just highway robbery!

  2. Damon said on 29th April 2010, 16:43

    Keith, what is this car that pretends to be a this year’s Mercedes (Mercedes livery) but isn’t one??

    [The one on the "Damon Hill and the Duke of York unveil a plaque marking the new track" picture obviously.]

    • Scribe said on 29th April 2010, 16:51

      Read up the thread, GeeMac has a picture of exactly what it is.

      It’s a Honda RA108 without appendages an a prototype 2009 spec front wing.

  3. David B said on 29th April 2010, 16:45

    I liked the old one, but this modifications look interesting.
    Brookland will be much more interesting…Chapel is now more long, probably will need much more “driving” and allow less speed on hangar straight. Don’t see any needs for this last one.
    Anyway, wait and see. Looks more interesting than Bahrein toboga…!

  4. DaveW said on 29th April 2010, 16:53

    Abbey should be banked 10-15 degrees.

    There is no way the cars can go through there side be side, or nose to tail, and the new fast corners will only serve to string out the field. And since it looks like there is a wide expanse of tarmac there, I expect to see much controversy about people taking 180mph personal track redesigns, or getting forced off, etc. But I agree that the new configuration offers some hope for passing into 16-18. Corners with multiple fast lines, a la, Brazil, is what we need more of.

  5. Robert McKay said on 29th April 2010, 17:13

    I’ll be surprised if it really is average-speed faster than Monza, as they are claiming. Seems difficult to believe.

    Impressive if it is, mind…

  6. A Singh said on 29th April 2010, 17:18

    I think a key point made by James Allen on his blog is that the modifications weren’t designed by Tilke.

    Hence why the circuit looks even better than before.

  7. JRBennett said on 29th April 2010, 18:27

    I was also at Silverstone today for the launch – although time restrictions meant I couldn’t stay for the media stuff!

    Got some more pics here.. http://www.flickr.com/photos/31431273@N06/sets/72157623832785805/

    Btw – Keith: did I hear correctly that the Santander 2-Seater actually blew it’s engine this afternoon?

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

      Was that the car Hill drove the Duke around in?

      I suppose you did not get to have a go on track on your bicycle as they advertized?

  8. Marc Pearson said on 29th April 2010, 18:35

    will this version of silverstone be in the F12010 video game?

  9. All this lack of F1 racing this month, and with Silverstone coming up in 11 weeks……it’s just killing me over time. Nothing is working, reading books playing games, sports, walking the dog and still F1 is on my mind.

    I blame Keith for this……….(joke)

  10. macahan said on 29th April 2010, 21:43

    it looks like the Club Silverstone seats will get a excellent view of the new arena circuit. At least it looks like this might be the case. Of course I’m curious because this is where I have seat for this upcoming race so very curious if this new layout gives me more of a spectacle to watch then what I thought when I booked the tickets (which was done before the info was available about the arena circuit).

    Also consider the layout of the arena I wouldn’t think we are in for a new Bahrain because it’s very few corners a lot of extra highspeed straights and if you can get it right I bet they could go flat out into the arena and overtake in the loop it looks to be wide enough so that a driver can take a alternative line to stay out of the immediate wake and thanks to the slight cornering the F-ducts might not be usable there.

    • BasCB said on 30th April 2010, 6:04

      But will it be possible to follow a car in front through the fast section?

      I would really like to see a repeat of Petrov on Lewis tail for 2 straights here!
      The F-duct shoulb be usable, only we will be presented with 4-5 different interpretations of it by the time we get to Silverstone.

  11. wasiF1 said on 30th April 2010, 1:55

    Looks great hope we have a good racing there in July.

  12. JSC said on 30th April 2010, 9:26

    Keith, I read on another site (that shall remain nameless) that they were moving the pits and start/finish line in time for 2011 to another location “in a completely different place”… Do we know where they’re moving them too?

    • Kevin said on 30th April 2010, 11:17

      JSC, between club and abbey for next year

    • macahan said on 30th April 2010, 14:41

      I like the next entry and exit for the new pit area. Exit is very long however and consider how straight and fast the track look to be on the new start straight finish I would just hope that the pit speed limit zone stops soon after the boxes which would mean they can really race out of the pits. If that is the case the boggy time for a pitstop could be pretty short.

  13. Chaz said on 30th April 2010, 16:48

    Cool, I can’t wait…

  14. Zazeems said on 2nd May 2010, 0:59

    I quite like it, certainly better that anything Tilke could come up with.

    I do hope that they grow that grass properly, and paint the runoff green or something, otherwise the new section may look a tad dull.

  15. Zazeems said on 2nd May 2010, 1:14

    Is it not flawed logic to add tarmac runoff on a circuit designed for bikes though?

    As far as I know bikers generally prefer gravel, and as such most circuits motogp visit have predominantly gravel traps.

    I know if I had to slide across something at 150mph, I’d pick grass and gravel over asphalt anysay.

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