Copse, Maggotts, Becketts, Hangar Straight, Stowe, Club, Abbey, Woodcote. Flat, fast and brutal (but I always preferred Brands when Grand Prix time came around).
The old Silverstone represents simpler times. It can never be the same again, much like Christmas when you grow up, Thursday nights without Top of the Pops – and, come to think of it, this magazine. But even though some of us will always miss Silverstone in its true, raw form, we all accept it had to change to keep up, and unlike other notable examples (yes, I mean you, Hockenheim) its character has been retained (for better or worse) and some of its developments, such as the Becketts complex, have actually made it better. Again, attributes it shares with this magazine (I hope).
The Silverstone metamorphosis will step up another gear in the coming months and years, firstly with extensive track revisions designed for MotoGP in 2010 and probably Formula 1 beyond that, and secondly with the new pits and paddock to be built between Club and Abbey. There’s no sign of complacency at ‘the home of British motor sport’ these days – something else that has changed for the better.
Richard Phillips, Damon Hill and the whole team at Silverstone know how close we came to losing the British GP. Make no mistake, Bernie Ecclestone wasn’t bluffing. Left to his own devices, he would have dropped the axe, and we’re grateful it didn’t happen.
As for Donington Park, uncertainty still hovers above the building site. The promoters of the British Superbike series have lost their faith and pulled their round for 2010, and who can blame them? A saviour is needed. It was exactly at this time of year in 2004 that Jonathan Palmer, backed by the late John Britten, secured the deal to take over Brands, Oulton, Cadwell and Snetterton. Before this new 17-year Silverstone GP deal, Palmer’s injection of fresh energy was the best thing to happen in British motor sport for a decade.
A fifth circuit to add to the portfolio, Jonathan? It must be tempting. For the sake of Tom Wheatcroft’s legacy, let’s hope he agrees.
We welcome a new star signing for 2010. Bobby Rahal has done just about everything there is to do in motor racing, from winning the Indy 500 to running an F1 team to drinking from the poisoned chalice of trying to sort out CART (RIP!). What he hasn’t done is write his own column for your favourite motor racing magazine – until now. Bobby will take his place in every issue alongside Andrew Frankel, Mat Oxley and Gordon Kirby to bring us tales from racing’s past and present. This month he kicks off with exciting news about his plans for a new historic race series in the US (see page 27).
We’re also introducing another new feature: On the Road, starring our award-winning staff writer Ed Foster (see page 94). Ed has been given the keys to the Motor Sport Lotus Elise to bring us stories from all over Europe, covering just about anything that involves wheels, engines, technology, hair-brained racing drivers… you know the sort of thing. And what have we lost to make room for this new content? Only our results pages at the back, a service which will be expanded on our website – www.motorsportmagazine.co.uk – during the new season.
Speaking of t’internet, check it out if you haven’t already done so for wine-fuelled podcasts, quirky videos and blogs that spark frothy-mouthed debates (such as John Watson on Kimi Raikkonen…). Yes, we’re a-changing with the times – which, I think, is where I came in.
Damien Smith, Editor